In one of his letters sent from Safed to Poland, R. Shlomo Shlomel Meinstral of Dresnitz reports the rather exceptional penitential exercises of Avraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi Berukhim (1515–93). Even though this particular epistle was not one of the hagiographical accounts compiled in Shiv@he ha-Ari, it nevertheless had a lasting impact on Jewish communities over the last four centuries. The present paper focuses on the narrative structure of the passages dealing with the life and activities of Avraham ha-Levi in the manuscript version of Shlomel’s epistle, its alterations and adaptations in early modern kabbalistic and pietistic books, and the recurrence of the very same themes and motifs in later historiographical and literary works. It illustrates the impact of the legends and exempla constructed in hagiography, showing how the predominant laudatory and edifying character of the stories fully unfolds their prescriptive potential in their later usage. In doing so, the paper demonstrates how the hagiographical materials ultimately shaped Jewish rituals and practices in the early modern period and the modern era.


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pp. 534-566
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