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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15Focusing on Jewish Religious Life, 1500-1900$
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Antony Polonsky and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774716

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774716.001.0001

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Jewish Popular Spirituality in the Eighteenth Century

Jewish Popular Spirituality in the Eighteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.93) Jewish Popular Spirituality in the Eighteenth Century
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15
Author(s):

Gershon David Hundert

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774716.003.0006

This chapter shows how, during the period beginning in the latter part of the seventeenth century, works that popularized kabbalistic ideas in homiletic and ethical treatises and in regimens of daily life appeared in substantial numbers. This reflected the significant increase in interest in popular kabbalistic teachings at precisely this time. This increased interest generated a growing market for the large number of books of conduct and other works informed by kabbalistic teachings that were published in these years. And the literature itself served to stimulate further interest in popular kabbalah. Many of the publications in question were essentially inexpensive pamphlets written in accessible language and guiding the reader through prayer services and rituals associated with the life cycle. All these were imbued with mystical significance. In this way the individual could feel privy to the esoteric realm and attain the conviction that they were indeed acting in accordance with God’s will. Moreover, the spread of this popular literature created a constituency for the emerging kabbalistic elite.

Keywords:   kabbalistic elite, Jewish popular spirituality, kabbalistic teachings, kabbalistic ideas, popular kabbalah

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