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Cabala

(842 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
1. Term Cabala (also spelled cabbala, cabbalah, kabala, kabbala, and kabbalah) means “tradition”—more specifically, “esoteric, mystical tradition.” It is the common name for the most important school of Jewish mysticism, which flourished from the late 12th century to the 19th, mainly in Christian Europe and the Middle East. The early cabalists in medieval Europe relied on ancient Jewish (Judaism) mystical traditions known as Hekhalot (heavenly palaces) and Merkabah (chariot) mysticism and on the traditions of the ancient cosmological work Sefer Yetzirah (Book of creation). T…

Reuchlin, Johannes

(2,621 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
Reuchlin, Johannes, * 22 Feb 1455 (Pforzheim), † 1522 (Liebenzell) Reuchlin was the leading German humanist of the Renaissance, the most prominent Hebraist of his age and the author of the central text of Christian kabbalah, De arte cabalistica (1517). The influence of his numerous books and the intense controversy which surrounded them make him a key figure in the history of European spirituality in the 16th century and the main influence on the integration of Jewish and kabbalistic elements into European thought [→ Jewish Influenc…

Safed

(173 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] (bibl.-hebr. צְפַת/ṣepat), Kleinstadt im Norden des Staates Israel, die vom 16.Jh. an jüd. Mystikern als spirituelles Zentrum galt (Land Israel: IV.). Dort sammelten sich viele Kabbalisten (Kabbala: II.), angezogen von dem nahe gelegenen Meron mit dem Grab Rabbi Simeon bar Jochais. Diesem Weisen des 2.Jh. wird das Buch Zohar zugeschrieben. In S. lebten mehrere bedeutende Persönlichkeiten: Rabbi Joseph Karo, Autor des Shulchan Arukh, des wichtigsten rel. Gesetzbuches im modernen J…

Narboni

(143 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Narboni, Moses (ca.1300 Perpignan, Frankreich – 1363 Soria, Spanien), bedeutender jüd. Philosoph des 14.Jh. N. arbeitete als wandernder Arzt in verschiedenen Städten Spaniens und der Provence. Sein bekanntestes und einflußreichstes Werk ist der Komm. zu Moses Maimonides' »More Nevukhim« (veröff. 1852 in Wien). N. vertrat eine fundamentale Maimonides-Interpretation und folgte in höherem Maße als die meisten jüd. Rationalisten den Lehren Averroes'. N. behauptete eine Judentum, Chris…

Urbach

(200 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Urbach, Ephraim Elimelech (26.5.1912 Wloclawec, Polen – 2.7.1991 Jerusalem), gehörte in der 2. Hälfte des 20.Jh. zu den einflußreichsten Wissenschaftlern für Jüd. Studien. U. studierte am Breslauer Rabbinerseminar und an den Universitäten von Breslau und Rom. Seit 1938 in Jerusalem; ab 1953 lehrte er als Prof. für Talmudstudien an der Hebr. Universität Jerusalem. 1974 Präsident der isr. Akademie der Künste und Wiss. der »World Union of Jewish Studies«. Darüber hinaus engagierte sic…

Nachman ben Simcha

(296 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] von Brazlav (1771 Medshibosh, Ukraine – 1811 Uman, ebd.). Rabbi N. ben S. gehörte zu den einflußreichsten Führern der chassidischen Bewegung (Chassidismus). Obwohl er ein Urenkel des Baal Shem Tov, des Gründers des Chassidismus, war, hatte sich nur eine kleine Gruppe von Schülern um ihn geschart. Auf seiner Pilgerreise in das Land Israel (1798) konnte er der Belagerung von Akko durch Napoleon I. an Bord eines türkischen Kriegsschiffes entkommen. Nach Europa zurückgekehrt, predigte…

Shir ha-Jichud

(164 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] . Das Sh. (»Gesang von Gottes Einheit«) ist ein langes Gedicht theol. Inhalts in lockerer Reimform, vf. von einem unbekannten dt. jüd. Gelehrten im 12.Jh. Es wurde zum wichtigsten Ausdruck einer neuen Vorstellung der göttlichen Welt innerhalb dieser Kultur. Das Sh. spricht von einem absolut transzendenten Schöpfergott, gleichfalls jedoch auch von dessen Immanenz in allen Bereichen der Schöpfung. Als eine Quelle des Sh. gilt eine frühe hebr. Übers. (11.Jh.) des rationalistischen W…

Zohar (Sohar), Sefer

(461 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] . Der Z. ist das bedeutendste Buch der Kabbala (: II.) und eines der fundiertesten Werke der ma. Mystik (: III.,2., b). Mit der Bibel und dem Talmud gehört er zu den drei heiligsten Büchern des Judentums. Nach G. Scholems Auffassung wurde er im wesentlichen von Rabbi Moses De Leon in Nordspanien zw. 1270 und 1291 vf.; gemäß Isaiah Tishby entstand er erst in dessen Todesjahr 1305. Von 1280 an hatte der Vf. Auszüge aus dem Z. verteilt und behauptet, es handle sich um Abschriften au…

Nathan

(186 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] von Gaza (1643 Jerusalem – 11.1.1680 Skopje, Mazedonien), erster Prophet und wichtigster Theologe des Sabbatianismus. Nach einer Begegnung mit Sabbatai Zevi (S.Z.) in Gaza 1665 berichtete der junge N., Schüler der Kabbala (: II.) I. Lurias, von einer Offenbarung, die S.Z. als den Messias auswies – ein Anspruch, den dieser schon jahrelang erfolglos erhob. Erst N.s Prophezeiung rief jedoch den eigentlichen Sabbatianismus ins Leben, dessen geistl. und administrativer Führer N. wurde.…

Rashba

(219 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Adret Solomon ben Adrat [Rashba is an acronym]; c. 1235, Barcelona – 1310, Barcelona), head of a school of Jewish law and Jewish mysticism in Barcelona, late 13th/early 14th century. A student of the Kabbalistic (Kabbalah) school of Girona, he was leader of a group of kabbalists in Catalonia. Before becoming a rabbi in Barcelona, he was a merchant, and traded with the king of Aragon, among others. More ¶ than 1,000 of his Responsa (7 vols.) have survived; they deal with daily problems and political matters, and with complicated questions of law as …

Bahya ben Asher

(187 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (ibn Halava; 2nd half of 13th cent., Spain), a prominent exegete, moral preacher, scholar in ethics, and kabbalist (Kabbalah), who, according to tradition, was a judge and preacher in Saragossa. Bahya wrote an extensive commentary on the Torah (pr. in Naples, 1492) and a widely circulated ethical work, Kad ha-Qemach (“A Bowl of Flour”), which discusses alphabetically-arranged sermons on themes of Jewish morality. Bahya's model was Nachmanides. He…

Donnolo, Shabbatai ben Abraham

(197 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (913, Oria, Italy – after 982, Rome?), scientist, physician, and theologian, one of the founders of Hebrew culture in medieval Europe. Donnolo wrote an autobiographical treatise, which was included with his treatise on the microcosmos and macrocosmos (as a commentary on Gen 1:27) and his commentary on Sefer Yetzira , in his Hachmony. We also have several medical treatises written by him; the most important is Sefer ha-Mirqachot (“The Book of Pharmacy”). His work influenced the Ashkenazi Hasidim (Hasidism), who regarded him…

Abrabanel

(544 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] 1. Isaac ben Judah (1437, Lisbon – 1508, Venice) was an important Jewish leader, diplomat, exegete and philosopher in the period before and after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492). Abrabanel was from a prominent family who were reputed to stem from the house of David. He was a financial advisor to King Alfonso V of Portugal, although he was forced …

Bar Hiyya, Abraham

(197 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 1065–1136) was the first Jewish rationalistic philosopher and scholar to write in Hebrew. His many trips to Northern Spain and the Provence, where Jews were no longer familiar with Arabic, prompted him to write his treatises in Hebrew. His main philosophical works are Hegyon ha-Nefesh (“The Meditation of the Soul”) dealing with creation of the world, the nature of the soul, and repentance, and Megillat ha-Megalle (“The Scroll of the Discoverer”) dealing with creation and cosmology with a strong …

Zaddiq

(311 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] The term zaddiq (קידְּצַ/ ṣaddîq; “Righteous”) is in most cases a vague, general title associating with religious devotion and leadership. It indicates social involvement and ethical perfection beyond the strict demands of the Halakhah and prominent position in the religious community. The verse in Pro 10:25 gave this term a cosmic meaning: the zaddiq is the foundation of the universe ( axis mundi). The legends of the 36 zaddiqim who are the justification of the world’s existence developed from this concept. In the Kabbalah, the term was used to indicate the ni…

Falaquera, Shem Tov ben Joseph

(230 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 1225–1295) was one of the most productive and popular rationalist philosophers of 13th-century Spanish Judaism (Spain: II, 1). He wrote most of his works in Hebrew and was also active as a translator from Arabic. His most important ¶ works include Sefer ha-Mevaqqesh (ET: cf. Falaquera's Book of the Seeker, 1976), a description in rhyming prose of the search for spiritual truth among the various competing schools and factions; Sefer ha-Nefesh (ET: cf. Torah and Sophia, 1835), one of the earliest treatises on the human soul in Hebrew; Iggeret ha-Vikuach (ET: cf. Falaque…

Ibn Daud, Abraham

(291 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (ben David; acronym Rabad I; c. 1110, Córdoba – 1180, Toledo), historian, philosopher, and scholar. Ibn Daud was one of the leading personalities of the Jewish community in 12th-century Spain. He acquired an extensive knowledge of philosophy, medicine, and astronomy in his native town of Córdoba, and was also familiar with the Qurʾān and the New Testament. His main historical work, Sefer ha-Kabbalah (ET: The Book of Tradition, 1967), was on the one hand a polemical tractate against the Karaites, who rejected rabbinic tradition; Ibn Daud according…

Exempla,

(314 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] a literary genre, which became frequent in Hebrew ethical literature in the Middle Ages and modern times, deriving its roots from midrashic literature (Midrash) and which may have been influenced by comparable literary devices in Christian medieval literature. An early medieval example of the use of exempla was the anthology Midrash Aseret ha-Dibrot (“Expounding the Ten Commandments”), which originated probably in Babylonia in the 7th and 8th centuries. This work contains examples of …

Nahman ben Simhah of Bratslav

(306 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1771, Medshibosh, Ukraine – 1811, Uman, Ukraine). Rabbi Nahman ben Simhah was one of the most influential leaders of the Hasidic movement (Hasidism). Although he was the great-grandson of Baʾal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, only a small group of adherents gathered around him. On his pilgrimage to the Land of Israel (1798) he was able to escape Napoleon's siege of Akko aboard a Turkish warship. When he returned to Europe he preached a new doctrine according to ¶ which there is only one true Zaddik, who is the redeemer of all the people of Israel. He did …

Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon

(136 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 855, Egypt – c. 955, Kairouan, Tunisia) earned his living as court physician in Kairouan. He is known as one of the founders of Jewish religious philosophy in the Middle Ages and was in contact with Saadia Gaon, the most influential philosopher of that age. His philosophical works, written in Arabic, had meaningful influence. They were also widely distributed in Europe (also among non-Jews) in their Hebrew and Latin translations. His Sefer ha-Gevulim ( Book of Definitions, trans. into Lat. by Gerard of Cremona) introduced the neo-Platonic concept of th…
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