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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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Jewish Magic And Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion

But when an infant was ill and could not sleep, or a woman was convulsed in labor pains, the Scroll was brought in and trafhtenberg upon the sufferer to alleviate the pain. Their prime function was still the adoration anr service of God, but that service brought them into uewish frequent contact with men.

The possibilities of this method were limited only by the resources of the Hebrew language, and if they were not exhausted it was only because so many other means of creating names trachtenebrg open to the mystic. Akiba, parts of Sefer Raziel, etc. I may add that this incantation was also recited by a child when it first entered school, with the additional tenfold repetition of: But in general the spirit-world is chary of its secrets and can be induced to reveal them only by magical means.

The intensification of the religious spirit that had proceeded through the intervening centuries produced a feeling that the demons had no proper place within Judaism, though they could not be ousted and the widespread fear of them persisted. Yehiel had not succeeded in persuading the king of its utterly harmless character.

These secular cognomens usually correspond in one way or another to the Hebrew, whether as colloquial forms or translations, or related only by sound or appearance.


It should be noted that the Talmudic period is usually considered to have closed at about c. It is known in European literatures only since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The estrie had the faculty of changing her shape as she willed, and of returning to her original demonic state when she flew about at night. Rabbinic Judaism was acquainted with both aspects ol the evil eye.

In theory, of course, the memunim were angels, and as such inherited all the angelic attributes of form and character and function which had been delineated in the trachetnberg literature.

The Sefer T or ah, the Scroll of the Torah, was a holy object, which must be treated with respect and veneration.

The books is a bit academic in nature so can be pretty dry reading. In medieval Germany she had developed into the demon-witch who gobbles up children.

Finally, the position of the angels in heaven made accessible to them the founts of mystic lore; they were the source of that secret wisdom to which the mystic aspired. We hear rather often of Jewish trade in drugs, throughout the Germanic lands.

Jewish Magic and Superstition | Joshua Trachtenberg, Moshe Idel

If a process of assimilation occurs at all, it is the name that is swallowed up by the word. In magic the seven was second only to the three in popularity. Albrecht forced this Jew to take his own medicine: The famous Safed Kabbalist, Moses Cordovero sixteenth centuryhas indeed left us a table of alphabetical permutations explaining in detail the derivation of this name from the Benediction. Phrases that are capable of being lead alike in either direction were especially highly prized.


Death itself was caused by a spirit, or destroying angel. The two thousand years since have seen a steady expansion and development of its inner life.

The magician therefore often observed an arduous preparatory rite, lasting three days or longer, during which he purified himself by fasting, or abstaining from certain foods, by chastity, by ritual cleansings, by devoting himself exclusively to prayer and study. This is that very Mab That plats the manes of horses in the night; And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs, Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.

Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. In this tree the liliot foregather. Three, seven and nine were the potent numbers par excellence of medieval Jewish magic.

Now to revert to our original question: Jews were stoned as sorcerers.

So intimately had they entered into Jewish folklore that it was possible for some writers to identify them with those original demons whose souls maic created on the eve of the Sabbath, when the press of time left them in a bodyless condition. Consequently every innocent Jewish act which by its strangeness laid itself open to suspicion was considered a diabolical device for working magic against Christians. If he dared to promenade alone he aand his life in his hands. Medieval Jewish magic depended for its effects mainly upon the spoken word.