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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Higher than all, however, stands God—and the names of God which Jewish ingenuity invented or discovered? Not alone were physicians accused of poisoning their patients, but Jews in general were considered especially adept in this art. One can hardly blame the masses for their unhesitating acceptance of the truth and power of magic.
Jewish Magic and Superstition | Joshua Trachtenberg, Moshe Idel
Thus we find ensconced in the Hebrew lore beliefs and practices emanating from the entire Mediterranean world: The material here presented is culled from the literature of Germanic Jewry described in the Note About the Sources —the Jewry of Germany, Northern France, England, Austria, Poland, which constituted culturally and historically a single community— from the eleventh century through the sixteenth. Rashi traced the tradition concerning this name, and its mystical employment, back to Talmudic times, and the tradition itself had it that this was the name which Moses learned at the burning bush and which he utilized to split the Red Sea before the fleeing children of Israel, and that at a later time the High Priest uttered it in the temple when he blessed the people.
These words are important to the magician just because they are what they are and as they are. The use of such unintelligible words can be traced in Egypt to a very great antiquity.
Trachtenberg focused on the medieval European world that sprang from the Hasidei Ashkenaz, the school of Rabbi Judah the Pious that produced the Sefer Hasidim, thus its prominence but very far from exclusivity as a source. To trachtsnberg sure the details of magical practice are too hoary and universal to admit of fundamental modification.
Corresponding with Holle-locke is the term Hollenzopf50 The lady made her way into Jewish life in her other role as well. Woe betide him if it had slipped his memory! Human need overrode the law, and in cases of serious illness the rabbis consented to be deaf and blind.
But the powers of all the variations derived directly from the original name which constituted their base. The Angels name changed according to the name that it was given.
Jewish Magic And Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion
If the name of God is uttered in another tongue, this prohibition does not maggic at all. If he trust in God he may arise and have no cause for fear. But in general the dead were not regarded as malevolent; rather were they seen as wistful, harmless shades haunting the graves which shelter their bones. But if more varied charges did not enter the record, we may be certain that they existed in the mind of the people. The demons, on the other hand, invested with all the fearsome potencies that a still primitive, animistic folk-imagination could conjure up, were equally capable of making the fame and fortune of those who could exert a magic power over them.
Joshua Trachtenberg served in the American rabbinate for nearly three decades. Very comprehensive, but superstitlon by the author’s sense of humor. It is difficult, of course, to judge the emotional tone, the intensity of the terror which the medieval Jew experienced in braving such a demon- ridden world.
The ease with which they become something else a few pages further on shows that they cannot have trachtenbberg much, if anything, to the compiler of that work. But these alone do not tell the whole story; we must admit a further element into the psychological complex which determined the attitude of Christian toward Jew—an element which today has lost its force in the composition of anti-Semitism, but which in the Middle Ages loomed very large. Rashi, for one, attempted a degree of differentiation on the basis of several Talmudic remarks.
And it is more than it appears to be: Our sources are wholly impersonal; writing of an introspective nature was altogether unknown. Their prime function was still the adoration and service of God, but that service brought them into more frequent contact with men.
Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion – Joshua Trachtenberg – Google Books
And it was this principle, too, which kept Jewish magic securely within the bounds of the religion, superstitin prevented it from assuming the role of an anti-religion, as its Christian counterpart did. Now that this man and his human heirs are all dead, contended the advocate, we, his spirit children, remain his sole heirs and lay claim to this house.
The products of these methods Gematria, Notarikon, and Temur ah are only rarely recognizable as such. The rabbis sought to eradicate these practices, or at least to transmute their offensive features.
It was best, at any rate, to keep on their good side, to seek their forgiveness, to obey their commands, to pray for their repose. On the other hand there is the view of Menasseh b.
Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion
Along with other German folk-beliefs the potent nine wormed its way into Jewish superstition. The danger is ever-present, but human ingenuity has devised several means of getting around it. The medieval tracbtenberg which give this name 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.