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(267 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] A mezuzah, Heb. מְזוּזָה, pl. מְזוּזוֹת/ mĕzûzôt, “doorposts” (Exod 12:7), is a piece of parchment with the first two sections of the Shema (Deut 6:4–9; 11:13–21; Num 15:37–41). The etymology is highly uncertain. The parchment is placed in a case made of metal, wood, or glass and attached to the right-hand doorpost of every entrance to an occupied room or building; today they are also attached to the doorposts of public buildings and synagogues. The mezuzah is a reminder of God's omnipresence, by which the house is blessed. Therefore anyone entering or le…

Literature, History of

(11,666 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich | Utzschneider, Helmut | Reiser, Marius | Hezser, Catherine | Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] I. The Concept and its Problems – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Judaism – V. Church History I. The Concept and its Problems Since the emergence of historical consciousness in the late 18th and early 19th century, literary historiography has attempted to present literary phenomena not simply as a sequential chronological or lexical (alphabetical) list but in their internal, substantial coherence and its historical development. The notion of literary history goes back to antiquity, but to …


(260 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] Mikvah, Hebrew מִקְוֶה/ miqweh, pl. מִקְוְוֹת/ miqwĕôt, “gathering of waters” (Gen 1:10). A mikvah is a pool of clear water for the ritual purification of women and men (Exod 15) who immerse themselves in it (Lev 11:36; 13; 15), as well as vessels (Num 31:22f.; 19; 31). The intent is spiritual purity, not physical (Ezek 36:25). The Mishnah tractate Miqwa'ot discusses regulations governing the construction of a mikvah and criteria for its water, which may be spring water, rainwater, or meltwater, but not groundwater. The water must be protected from contamination. The mik…


(262 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] (Heb. מֹהֵל, pl. מֹהְלִים/ moh elîm, “circumciser”). The mohel is neither an official nor a doctor. Any member of the people of Israel can be entrusted with carrying out this mitzvah (Gen 21:4f.; Mitzvot). Women and non-Jews can do the circumcision (IV) if no “suitable Jew” (M. Maimonides, Mishne Tora, Hilkhot Mila 2.1) is available. The mohel must prove to specialists and doctors of the appropriate rabbinate the knowledge that he has acquired. He performs the circumcision, on behalf of the parents, on the eighth day after the birth of the son (Gen 17:11f.). The mohel's ins…

Rosenzweig, Franz

(603 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] (Dec 25, 1886, Kassel – Dec 10, 1929, Frankfurt am Main). Born to assimilated Jewish parents, Rosenzweig studied medicine and after 1907 history and philosophy at Freiburg and then Berlin, where he received his doctorate in 1912 with a dissertation on Hegel and the state directed by F. Meinecke ( Hegel und der Staat, 2 vols., 1920). With the intention of converting to Christianity, he engaged in intensive study of Judaism. In 1913 he met H. Cohen in Berlin and on Yom Kippur reversed his decision to convert. Moved by his experiences …


(8,171 words)

Author(s): Weßler, Heinz Werner | Barton, John | Klaiber, Walter | Sarot, Marcel | Sparn, Walter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies In archaic cultures, the wellbeing of the community is determined by a fatal power that can be influenced by religious rituals but is ultimately incalculable. In the context of advanced early urban cultures, however, there emerged religious worldviews in which universal concepts of order played a central role. In this historical context, a “functioning world order” (Klimkeit) became the structural principle for models explaining the world. The connection between …

Vital, Hayyim ben Joseph

(178 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] (called “the Calabrian”; 1542/1543[?], Safed, Palestine – 1620, Damascus). In 1564 he began studying Kabbalah with M. Cordovero, then later with I. Luria. Vital’s Sefer ha-chezyonot (“Book of Visions,” 1954; ET in Jewish Mystical Biographies, 1999) is an autobiographical source. In his Ets ha-chayim (ET: The Tree of Life, 1999), he claimed to be the only authoritative transmitter of Lurianic kabbalah. His second major work, Ets ha-daʿat (“Tree of Knowledge”), comprises talmudic commentaries, kabbalistic sermons, and ethical discussions; both wer…

Maimonides, Moses

(627 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] (Arab. Mūsā ibn Maimūn; Heb. [ Rabbi] Moshe ben Maimon; acronym: RaMBaM; Mar 30, 1138, Córdoba, Spain – Dec 13, 1204, Fusṭāṭ [Old Cairo]). Maimonides went into exile in 1148 following the conquest of Córdoba by the Almohads. He settled in Fez, Morocco, in 1160, and studied under Judah ha-Kohen ibn Sūsan. He began with commentaries on the Mishnah and the Talmud, and wrote treatises on logic ( Millot ha-Higgayon) and the Jewish calendar (II; Ma'amar ha-ibbur). After his teacher's martyrdom, Maimonides moved via Akko and Alexandria to Fusṭāṭ, where he became…


(8,918 words)

Author(s): Neu, Rainer | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Alkier, Stefan | Gregersen, Niels Henrik | Evers, Dirk | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Fundamental Theology – VII. Dogmatics – VIII. Education and Practical Theology – IX. Judaism – X. Islamic Theology I. History of Religions Miracles are extraordinary, mystifying human experiences that cannot be explained by normal causes, which in many cases suggest the intervention of a deity or superhuman power. Miracles are found in all cultures and are among the traditions of almost all religi…


(139 words)

Author(s): Heinzmann, Michael
[German Version] (Heb. מִנְיָן, “number, count”; cf. Gen 18:32; Num 14:26), a group of ten men who have reached the age of religious discretion (or older), whose presence is necessary in order for public worship and certain other ceremonies to take place. The congregation represents ¶ the people, exemplifying and actualizing the responsibility of members for one another. Orthodox congregations do not count women as part of a minyan. Conservative Jews (Conservative Judaism) hold that women, just as much as men, are under the obligation to pr…