Abstract

Despite recent advances in the study of emotion in Kabbalah, there has not yet been a study devoted to the treatment of a single emotion in kabbalistic literature. Redressing this lacuna, this article merges close readings of modern texts with theoretical analysis in exploring shame, an emotion selected for its complexity and intimate connection with selfhood. Shame is a significant component of the religious self, indeed part of the existential human condition. Owing to the need for historical contextualization, the focus is on kabbalistic texts from the modern period, from the sixteenth century until today. The texts are considered in light of anthropological and psychoanalytic insights and the complex theorization of shame and subjectivity of Giorgio Agamben. The textual findings, many of which have never been researched (certainly not in a language other than Hebrew) point not only to the singularity of shame within the emotional landscape but also to its inextricable connection to neighboring emotions and to larger cultural, religious, and national values. This is a study of how a particular tradition of religious thinking, namely modern Kabbalah, has conceptualized and formulated that array of human phenomena we describe as emotions, and particularly shame. It has both historical and extrahistorical ends; it is both a piece of intellectual history in which kabbalistic traditions are reconstructed and an argument about the way kabbalistic thinking can be read as participating in philosophical inquiry.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 89-122
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-04
Open Access
No
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