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Leadership and ConflictTensions in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History and Culture$
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Marc Saperstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764494

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.001.0001

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‘Arab Chains’ and the ‘Good Things of Spain’: Aspects of Jewish Exile

‘Arab Chains’ and the ‘Good Things of Spain’: Aspects of Jewish Exile

(p.253) Chapter Eleven ‘Arab Chains’ and the ‘Good Things of Spain’: Aspects of Jewish Exile
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyses three brief, powerful passages, from different environments and different literary genres. These reveal an enduring ambivalence towards Jewish life in ‘exile’, a reluctance to concede that the centuries of Jewish life in foreign lands were devoid of any positive qualities, and even — rather surprisingly — the suggestion that life in exile might have religious advantages for Jews that were not available in the Holy Land. In short, the actual treatment of exile in Jewish literary texts reveals more nuanced and multivalent aspects. The familiar geography of the traditional concept — exile as forced removal from the Land of Israel and the end of exile as return to that land — is occasionally subverted in unexpected ways. Perhaps even more surprising is a revalorization of the concept, in which living in the ancestral homeland is no longer automatically identified as good, and living outside the land as bad. This chapter attempts to illustrate some of the permutations of this central concept through a literary and conceptual analysis of the three pre-modern passages from Jewish literature.

Keywords:   exile, Jewish exile, Jewish literature, ancestral homeland, foreign lands, Jewish literary texts, diaspora

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