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

Jun 05, Greg rated it liked it Shelves: The medieval mystics, however, possessed a tradition according to which this name is derived from the first forty-two letters in the Bible. And sometimes the spirits performed holy labors too, as when they impressed upon R. There is on record at least one accusation against a Jew, dating from the thirteenth century, of despoiling a servant girl, whom he was said to have drugged, of some jeish which he intended to put to a magical or medicinal use.

It was a rival of the Church, with its own peculiar doctrine and ritual. The only remedy in such a case is to move far away, where the demons who have been provoked by the intrusion cannot get at them. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. His numerous publications include Kabbalah: This terrifying belief was especially widespread in later Jewish life. This manuscript is particularly rich in such transliterations.

Eliezer maintained that the demons, to whom the magician owes this power, can create nothing smaller than a barley-corn. It would be extravagant to assert that the endless procession of angelic names with which Sefer Raziel, for example, regales us had any real relation to the angels themselves, or that it evoked in its medieval readers visions of definite creatures. But the early literature contained ample seed for a rich later growth, which it experienced in the Geonic period, when a highly esoteric doctrine grew up, portions of which found literary expression in such works as the Hechalot, Otiot de R.

Medieval charms and magical recipes reflect this universal attitude. They would be punished for their acts, whether by the spirits whom they had momentarily enslaved, or by the wrath of God. He confessed that he feared none but his own child. Phrases that are capable of being lead alike in either direction were especially highly prized.

The book covered more than what I summarized so you will have to read it yourself to dig out those precious nugget. I may add that this incantation was also recited by a child when it first entered school, with the additional tenfold repetition of: That the demons propagate their own kind we have already seen.


However, the yearor thereabouts, has been selected as terminus ad quem, for during the succeeding century the so-called FOREWORD xx Lurianic Kabbalahemanating from Safed, introduced a variety of new mystical elements and emphases, and also at about this time the center of Jewish life was shifting toward the east, where it came increasingly under the influence of the Slavic cultures. A magical recipe to gain release from prison prescribed its daily recitation 72 times, along with other Scriptural selections.

Books by Joshua Trachtenberg. It seems more than probable that this last version contains the clew to the whole business. Rabbinic Judaism was acquainted with both aspects ol the evil eye.

The Zeitgeist overpowered even the most rationalistically inclined of the rabbis. While Kabbalists themselves limited the term to name-invocation, in popular usage it was generic for the entire corpus of Jewish magic. A story in Sefer Hasidim is a replica of dozens found in non-Jewish works: Greek, Zoroastrian, Teuton, or Superstitino range of possibilities is certainly wide enough!

We German Jews have lost this mystical tradition, but in Palestine there are still to be found some men who can perform great wonders through the Kabbalah. Further, medieval superstitoon and sorcery were based upon a perverted worship of Satan, according to popular belief, and individual warlocks were supposed consciously to accept the suzerainty of the Power of Evil and to operate through an appeal to his aid.

The two thousand years since have seen a steady expansion and development of its inner life.

Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion

It suerstition known in European literatures only since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The origin of the term is uncertain—it has been claimed as of both Jewish and Christian derivation—but whatever its origin there is no doubt that it has been preserved for us by German Jews. He himself mentioned a series of works in his letter, which marked the highest development of jewisy doctrine during the Geonic period, and proved the futility of his strictures against it.

This recipe is worthy of full quotation because it illustrates the business that often accompanied the charm.

Full text of “Jewish Magic And Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion”

Like his feminine counterpart, the estrie, he requires human blood in his diet—another version of the vampire. Incantations were also written upon apples and citrons and other foods, and thus consumed, or they were imbibed with liquids.


According to the popular view, demons and magic were often responsible for disease, and medicine was therefore the legitimate province of the sorcerer. The superrstition exercised great freedom of choice, selecting in a given case the name or names which they believed to possess the greater power, and determining their use by the specific request or magical act which accompanied the utterance of the names.

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 jfwish leaders yet enjoyed such wide popularity that supperstition could not be altogether excluded from the religion. Preferring a fate of her own choosing, she offered him a similar amulet.

All that they tractenberg do, in the effort to reconcile theology with superstition, was to evade the problem by asserting at the same time the power of the Name and the power of God. The powers that were ascribed to the names were limitless. Jews were not allowed to practice magic that transformed the very nature of things. Special prayers were instituted for the Hazan to recite, so that jeqish congregation might be detained until its slowest member had caught up with it. To mayic certain that the decision was carried out R.

To marry off two children at one time, or two sisters or brothers in one week, or indeed, to celebrate any two weddings within a week was to invite trouble.

Jewish Magic and Superstition | Joshua Trachtenberg, Moshe Idel

The writer of the late book of Daniel was the first to individualize angels and to endow them with names and titles. It was nowhere suggested that human life could be created by ordinary magical means.

In Europe the persistence in various forms of the lamia and striga in the local non-Jewish superstition served to preserve and accentuate this feature of the Lilit concept.

The commentators explained that the Talmudic synagogues were situated in the fields, where the spirits congregate, whereas medieval houses of worship were located in town, and the late homegoer was not in pressing danger. Witches were seen as people flying on broomsticks and cavorting with the devil.