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Mystical Theology and Social DissentThe Life and Works of Judah Loew of Prague$
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Byron L. Sherwin

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780197100516

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9780197100516.001.0001

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Jew and Gentile: Halakhic Concretizations

Jew and Gentile: Halakhic Concretizations

(p.94) 9 Jew and Gentile: Halakhic Concretizations
Mystical Theology and Social Dissent

Byron L. Sherwin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter studies Judah Loew's views concerning the Jewish people and its relationship to other peoples. It analyzes the application of his theoretical considerations to two concrete problems in Jewish religious law (halakhah): Jewish use of Gentile wine and religious conversion. For Rabbi Loew, Jewish use of Gentile wine is not simply a minor infraction of the law, but a distortion of fundamental metaphysical realities. Just as Jew and Gentile are mutually exclusive, so must be Jewish and Gentile wine. By using Gentile wine, the Jew thereby identifies with his contradictory opposite. All that can result from such activity is the pollution of the sacred, the violation of Israel. A second halakhic issue which concerned Judah Loew was religious conversion to Judaism. Being a traditionalist, he had to take into account the longstanding halakhic possibility of conversion, developed and sanctioned by earlier authorities. However, his position concerning the essential incompatibility of Jewish and Gentile natures on the physical, social, and metaphysical levels of existence would seem to eliminate the possibility of conversion to Judaism, both theoretically and practically.

Keywords:   Judah Loew, Jewish people, Jewish religious law, halakhah, Jewish wine, Gentile wine, religious conversion, Judaism

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