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Cities of Splendour in the Shaping of Sephardi History$
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Jane S. Gerber

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113300

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113300.001.0001

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The Search for Redemption in Safed 1500–1600

The Search for Redemption in Safed 1500–1600

Chapter:
(p.86) Chapter Three The Search for Redemption in Safed 1500–1600
Source:
Cities of Splendour in the Shaping of Sephardi History
Author(s):

Jane S. Gerber

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113300.003.0004

This chapter discusses how the two separate branches of the Sephardim formed as the Jews were driven out of their homes to drift from one Mediterranean port to the next. In this resettlement and reshuffling, a large and heterogeneous diaspora of Ladino- and Arabic-speaking Jews emerged throughout the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. As the Iberian Jews wended their way eastward, they tended to be introspective and melancholy. The chapter discusses the messianic doctrine in Judaism, the Jewish concept of a suffering redeemer, and the outbursts of messianic enthusiasm, as Jews lost patience with their misery and sought to accelerate the difficult process of redemption. While the messianic doctrine that promised an ultimate redemption of the Jews was always present in Jewish thought, it was ordinarily contained. Its power lay in its vagueness, fortifying them to weather current crises with future hope. Ultimately, the chapter provides a careful analysis of Jewish mysticism and Jewish messianism. It analyzes new dimensions of mystical significance that Safed provided to Sephardi history.

Keywords:   Sephardim, Ladino, Arabic-speaking Jews, Sephardi, Safed, redeemer, messianic doctrine, redemption, Jewish mysticism, Jewish messianism

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