Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Wayne State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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In the not-too-distant academic past, Jewish communities were typically portrayed as cells of a worldwide Jewish people who lived with iterations of an original, common, authentically Jewish culture. The Jews (living in self-contained communities, in semi-isolation from the “host” society) and their culture (functioning autonomously) were “in dialogue” with the “surrounding”...
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Dissent from eastern Europe’s state-sanctioned religions was often both mystical and Jewish. This held true not only for Jews themselves, but for a host of Judaizing Russian Christian sects, including Dukhobors, Molokans, Jumpers, Subbotniks, Stundists, and “flagellants” (khlysty).1 That dissent assumed a mystical form is not surprising: the mystical enterprise tends...
I. JEWISH MYSTICS IN A CHRISTIAN WORLD
“You Will Find It in the Pharmacy”
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Two basic tendencies seem to characterize scholarly analyses of Slavic-Jewish contacts in the field of popular magic. The first is an essentially binary framing of mutual influence: either Slavic culture is understood to reflect a Jewish impact, or Jewish culture to reflect a Slavic one. The second tendency is to scrutinize Jewish-Slavic contacts through the prism of linguistics, anthropology,...
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On September 1, 1892, Gazeta Lubelska described two weddings that had taken place a day earlier in Lublin’s Jewish cemetery. The ceremonies sparked interest not only because of their morbid location, but also because they included a mysterious ritual: four young women were harnessed to a plough and made to plough around the town limits on the Biskupice side.1 These...
R. Israel Ba‘al Shem Tov “In the State of Walachia”
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It is currently a matter of scholarly consensus that the founder of the eighteenth- century revivalist movement known as Hasidism,1 R. Israel Ba‘al Shem Tov (the Besht), was born in the Podolian town of Okopy. Though not corroborated by any reliable source, this historical detail has been repeatedly invoked to locate the social and cultural background against which...
Hasidism and Habitat
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Kotzk, home to a legendary Hasidic court during the mid-nineteenth century, is a medieval town hedged in by rivers, lakes, and wetlands about an hour’s drive from Warsaw. The very first site that greets the visitor is a corner building topped with a small tower at the intersection of Wojska Polskiego and Polna Streets, the former dwelling of the fiery Kotzker rebbe (Hebrew,...
The Rise and Decline of a Hasidic Court
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Among the more striking images called to mind by Hasidism for well over a century is that of the Hasidic tish. The tzaddik (or rebbe in Yiddish) sits at the head of a huge table on an elaborate chair or throne, often surrounded by his sons and sons-in-law. On either side of the table, hundreds of Hasidic men stand on bleachers gazing devoutly at their spiritual leader while chanting...
II. CHRISTIANIZING JEWS, JUDAIZING CHRISTIANS
Immanuel Frommann’s Commentary on Luke and the Christianizing of Kabbalah
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The focus of this essay is on the kabbalistic and conceivably Sabbatean aspects of the Christian doctrine proffered by the German proselyte Heinrich Christian Immanuel Frommann (d. 1735), in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke. In this study, I mention crucial passages where kabbalistic motifs are employed in the service of proving the truths of Christianity. Not only does...
The Peril of Heresy, the Birth of a New Faith
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Frankism, the religious movement that crystallized around Jacob Frank in the 1750s and constituted a late continuation of the messianic movement created around Sabbatai Tzevi (1626–76), was unique among other forms of Jewish heterodoxy in its extraordinary public profi le, in the degree of involvement of gentile authorities in what was an ostensibly internal Jewish...
From Poland to London
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In 1790, the English poet and artist William Blake produced a provocative but puzzling work entitled The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Written as a radical rejoinder to a conservative faction of Swedenborgians in London, Blake’s “illuminated prophecy” seemed to echo the antinomian and erotic themes of Jacob Frank and other crypto-Sabbateans. In plate 3, he declared:...
Me’ayin yavo ‘ezri?
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This dictum, numbered 451 in the manuscripts of the “Collection of the Words of the Lord [Jacob Frank]” (Zbiór słów pan´skich), is the most beautiful, most self-revelatory, and, in some ways, the most puzzling of all of Jacob Frank’s Words delivered and recorded in the Cracow mss. The lectures were not delivered at a single sitting. From the material therein (covering holidays,...
Judaism and Jewish Influences in Russian Spiritual Christianity
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The relationship between Judaism and Christianity on the eastern European plain has been complex, fraught with violence and conflict on the one hand, and, on the other, a creative and fruitful cultural exchange. This relationship has a long history: the rulers of the Turkic Khazars converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and, according to the Russian chronicles, Jewish missionaries...
In Search of the Millennium
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The spread of the radical Christian evangelical movement in the Ukrainian provinces of Kiev, Kherson, and Tavrida during the 1880s coincided with a surge in revolutionary activity throughout tsarist Russia. Prominent among the revolutionaries were Jews, and some found common cause with the persecuted evangelicals against the tsarist state.1 These Jewish revolutionaries...
The Religious World of
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One of the least well-known chapters in the remarkable and vibrant history of religiosity in Russia is the story of the Sabbatarians (variously known in Russian as Subbotniki, Iudeistvuiushchie, Zhidovstvuiushchie, and Gery, among numerous other appellations; here I generally use “Subbotniks” as a blanket term).1 Subbotniks were ethnic Russians who adhered to some, or all, of...
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Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2011
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Non-Series