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Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism$
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Menachem Kellner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113294

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113294.001.0001

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Ritual Purity and Impurity

Ritual Purity and Impurity

(p.127) Four Ritual Purity and Impurity
Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism

Menachem Kellner

Liverpool University Press

This chapter assesses ritual purity and impurity, beginning with a discussion of two competing views. The debate between the text from Heikhalot rabati and the story about Rabban Johanan ben Zakai is reflected in medieval Jewish thought. Judah Halevi seems close to the position reflected by the Heikhalot rabati text, while Maimonides adopts that expressed in the story of Rabban Johanan. The text from Heikhalot rabati sees the laws of ritual purity and impurity as reflecting an objective reality, while the story teaches that the laws of ritual purity and impurity do not reflect any objective reality, though they certainly create a halakhic reality. At the very beginning of his discussion of the laws of ritual purity and impurity, Maimonides indicates that the context of this discussion is the sacrificial cult.

Keywords:   ritual purity, ritual impurity, Heikhalot rabati, Rabban Johanan ben Zakai, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, objective reality, halakhic reality, sacrificial cult

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