Forsaken: The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism

Forsaken: The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism

by Sharon Faye Koren
     
 

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This book addresses a central question in the study of Jewish mysticism in the medieval and early modern periods: why are there no known female mystics in medieval Judaism, unlike contemporaneous movements in Christianity and Islam? Sharon Faye Koren demonstrates that the male rejection of female mystical aspirations is based in deeply rooted attitudes toward

Overview

This book addresses a central question in the study of Jewish mysticism in the medieval and early modern periods: why are there no known female mystics in medieval Judaism, unlike contemporaneous movements in Christianity and Islam? Sharon Faye Koren demonstrates that the male rejection of female mystical aspirations is based in deeply rooted attitudes toward corporeality and ritual purity. In particular, medieval Jewish male mystics increasingly emphasized that the changing states of the female body between ritual purity and impurity disqualified women from the quest for mystical connection with God.

Offering a provocative look at premodern rabbinical views of the female body and their ramifications for women’s spiritual development, Koren compares Jewish views with medieval Christian and Muslim views of both female menstruation and the possibility of female mystical experience.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“They may have been scientifically literate, but medieval Jews weren’t always sensible: Witness the fact that unlike Christianity and Islam, medieval Judaism had no female mystics. Sharon Faye Koren’s Forsaken: The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism argues that this strange dearth resulted from traditional Jewish understandings of menstruation as a ritual impurity, which Jewish men felt was incompatible with higher spirituality—despite women in the Bible and even in the Talmud having proved themselves perfectly capable of religious insight and leadership.”—Tablet

“Forsaken offers an intriguing examination of the ways in which femininity and femaleness were depicted in a significant branch of pre-modern Jewish thought.”—Lilith

“This book constitutes a substantial contribution to our understanding of medieval Jewish concepts of purity and gender, and the impact of both of these categories on kabbalistic thought.”—American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611680225
Publisher:
Brandeis University Press
Publication date:
10/11/2011
Series:
HBI Series on Jewish Women
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
306
File size:
835 KB

What People are saying about this

Elisheva Baumgarten
“This unique study provides a number of perspectives that have been lacking in studies to date. Koren combines a history of ideas and a history of practice in a highly intelligent manner. Moreover, she allows a meeting of scholarship on Kabbalah and historical methods in a most successful way.”
Judith R. Baskin
“Koren’s scholarship is first rate, and the clarity of the content is striking. She addresses themes from many disciplines, including Jewish mysticism, Jewish women’s studies, and medieval and early modern Jewish studies, with depth and authority.”

Meet the Author

SHARON FAYE KOREN is an assistant professor of medieval Jewish culture at Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, New York.

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