Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion

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Overview

Jewish Magic and Superstition
A Study in Folk Religion
Joshua Trachtenberg. Foreword by Moshe Idel

Alongside the formal development of Judaism from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries, a robust Jewish folk religion flourished--ideas and practices that never met with wholehearted approval by religious leaders yet enjoyed such wide popularity that they could not be altogether excluded from the religion. 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.

Jewish Magic and Superstition is a masterful and utterly fascinating exploration of religious forms that have all but disappeared yet persist in the imagination. The volume begins with legends of Jewish sorcery and proceeds to discuss beliefs about the evil eye, spirits of the dead, powers of good, the famous legend of the golem, procedures for casting spells, the use of gems and amulets, how to battle spirits, the ritual of circumcision, herbal folk remedies, fortune telling, astrology, and the interpretation of dreams.

First published more than sixty years ago, Trachtenberg's study remains the foundational scholarship on magical practices in the Jewish world and offers an understanding of folk beliefs that expressed most eloquently the everyday religion of the Jewish people.

Joshua Trachtenberg (1904-59) served in the American rabbinate for nearly three decades. He is the author of The Devil and the Jews.

Moshe Idel is Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His numerous publications include Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Messianic Mystics and Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic. He received the Israel Prize for excellence in the field of Jewish philosophy in 1999.

2004 | 392 pages | 6 x 9 | illus.
ISBN 978-0-8122-1862-6 | Paper | $24.95s | £16.50
World Rights | Religion, Anthropology

Short copy:

A classic treatise, available now for the first time in paperback, on the folk beliefs of the Jews, with a new introduction by arguably the most important contemporary scholar of Jewish mysticism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812218626
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,387,681
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Trachtenberg (1904-59) served in the American rabbinate for nearly three decades. He is the author of The Devil and the Jews. Moshe Idel is Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His numerous publications include Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Messianic Mystics, and Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic. He received the Israel Prize for excellence in the field of Jewish philosophy in 1999.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Moshe Idel
Preface

I. the Legend of Jewish Sorcery
II. The Truth Behind the Legend
III. The Powers of Evil
IV. Man and the Demons
V. The Spirits of the Dead
VI. The Powers of Good
VII. "In the Nature of . . ."
VIII. The Bible in Magic
IX. The Magical Procedure
X. Amulets
XI. The War with the Spirits
XII. Nature and Man
XIII. Medicine
XIV. Divination
XV. Dreams
XVI. Astrology

Appendix I. The Formation of Magical Names
Appendix II. Ms Sefer Gematriaot on Gems

Abbreviations and Hebrew Titles
Notes
Bibliography
Glossary of Hebrew Terms
Index

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