Jewish Magic and Superstition, by Joshua Trachtenberg, , full text etext at Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg, in his defensive yet illuminating book, writing of the age-long reputation of jews as practitioners of black magic and. From Sefer Raziel, Amsterdam, i7 JOSHUA TRACHTENBERG JEWISH MAGIC AND SUPERSTITION A Study in Folk Religion Submitted in partial fulfillment.
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The invocation of names, 18 and in particular of angelic names, came distinctly and prominently to the fore only in the post- Talmudic period. These could have no superstution for Jews. Scripture is sacred not only for the wisdom it teaches, but even more for its close association with the person of the deity who revealed it.
Yet some writers were prepared to admit that Jews, too, might be engaged in such activities. The familiar name for the Sabbath-loaf among German Jews, Batches or Berches, and the distinctive, plaited appearance of the bread, have led some scholars to suggest that we have here a Jewish version of an ancient pagan practice. The common fate of popularizations befell this mystical learning: The Powers Of Evil.
According to Joshua Trachtenberg, it is not possible truly to understand the experience and history of the Jewish people without attempting to recover their folklife and beliefs from centuries past. Death itself was caused by a spirit, or destroying angel. Some nights they gather in the synagogue, where, clothed in ghostly prayer-shawls, they conduct their own weird service.
On a personal note, I have collected and translated Hebrew magic manuscripts kabbalah ma’asit for many years, counting more than a hundred manuscripts and rare books in my modest collection. Witness the spirits of evil men which are assimilated to the demonic ranks, and become implacable enemies of humankind! I command this upon you with a curse and with an oath, now and forever. It should be noted, finally, that in all this the demons, evil as they were, remained the creatures of God, subject to His will and respectful of His divinity, and actually subservient to the angels.
However, Jews were acquainted with this prevailing non-Jewish classification, as is indicated by the effort of Menahem Ziyuni and others to interpret the word necromancy: There is also a short glossary, so if you are having trouble telling the difference between a Kaddish and a Kiddush, you’re in luck. Occasional remarks seem to minimize the danger. The Middle Ages inherited a tradition of Jewish sorcery from the ancient world.
Some way out of this dilemma was ardently desired, and a formula was devised to meet this need: Mackenzie rated it it was ok Feb 10, Frequently the root term seems to have been chosen at random, having no apparent relation to the function of the angel as given, though it is likely that at the time of the creation of such names the word employed was intended to indicate the angelic character.
Jewish Magic and Superstition Index
And so there grow up schools of mystical and esoteric exegesis which profess to discover the hidden inner significance of the Word. While the Sefer Hasidim is deservedly well-represented, a glance at any page of notes will refute that reviewer’s ill-considered statement.
Since the earliest trachtenbreg of the dispersion, however, Jews have also borne names drawn from the nomenclature of the people in whose midst they reside—names we may term secular or vulgar as distinguished from the Hebrew, the classical name.
Sefer Hasidim contains a score of such weird tales. With the consent of God and of His celestial and terrestrial menage, let them all be null and void, like unto a clay vessel that has been shattered.
Full text of “Jewish Magic And Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion”
They were called upon to perform every sort of function imaginable, usually in conjunction with lesser assistants. Feb 24, Steve Cran rated it it was amazing.
Israel was expressing not his own opinion but the judgment of Jewish folk-belief. From them comes the use of the word golem literally, shapeless or lifeless matter to designate a homunculus created by the magical invocation of names, and the entire cycle of golem legends may be traced back to their interest.
In other words, every device known to magic which was calculated to cause a certain effect to occur upon or within an individual, was called into play to bring out the occult forces inherent in the verses of the Bible. Even in the grave this principle still obtained. There remained yet another category, unaccounted for by the rabbinic theory and known to Jews under their non-Jewish names R.
Stories and anecdotes are told also to color the superstitions discussed. Better far to confess and be absolved than to face the wrath of his spirit.
Susan rated it liked it Aug 13, In the event that one enemy precedes the other to the grave, the one left behind is in for an uncomfortable time, for spirits have long memories. These and others appear only as names standing out momentarily from grachtenberg midst of a horde of unidentified spirits.
There were others as well. Our sources are wholly impersonal; writing of an introspective nature was altogether unknown.
Jewish Magic and Superstition
Nor did the mistrust and animosity which the entire background of medieval Christendom fostered against the Jews serve to lessen the effect of their strangeness. You cannot harm me. The medieval texts which give this supersition in full omit the vowel signs, and we can no longer reconstruct it as spoken; the variations in vocalization, which continued to be handed down by word of mouth, must have increased as time went on, so that in fact the name was employed in many versions.
Demons and angels, to be counted only in myriads, populated that world; through their intermediacy the powers of magic were brought into operation. If, today, the issue strikes us as grotesque it is only because we have lost faith in the realities of the medieval world.