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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Such words and glances, in themselves perhaps innocent, constitute the evil eye, which brings swift persecution in its wake.

Jewish Magic and Superstition | Joshua Trachtenberg, Moshe Idel

The second is the type the Germans denote with the words berujen or beschreien. The formidable nature of the project is apparent from the merest glance at the twenty-three folio columns which the very involved combinations of letters occupy. Certain men are peculiarly susceptible to harm from these bolts, and can be healed only by magic.

They are to be found in all stations of life. Paperbackpages. They were called upon to perform every sort of function imaginable, usually in conjunction with lesser assistants. Human alertness avails nothing against them.

Raba created a man and sent him to R. The people euperstition in daily contact, and the ideas and movements that swept Europe invaded the ghetto as well. Occasionally a spirit council is called to adjudge disputes between the latest arrivals and older members of the company.

Genii were the familiars of witches and sorcerers, and the dragon became a demon with unusual attributes. A modern writer who superstitioh made a careful study of Christian magic and witchcraft, and who proves himself as credulous and superstition-ridden as the period he examines, expresses exactly the medieval view, which is his as well: In all of medieval Jewry there were few who raised their voices against this superstition.

Jared rated it it was amazing Jan 02, During the Middle Ages fear of publicly proclaiming the news of a death was pronounced, and the custom of pouring out the water in a home where a death had occurred was explained and accepted jwish a mute announcement. Similar phrases are in use all over the world. The archangels are also brought into connection with the signs of the Zodiac. Professor Lynn Thorndike has made an exhaustive and rewarding study of the History of Magic and Experimental Science in medieval Europe, as one aspect of the history of thought.


Coupled with his reputation for piety and learning he trusted that this would teachtenberg him through. Shimmush Tehillim is a medieval compilation of the uses to which individual psalms and verses may be effectively put; ane promises the satisfaction of an extended miscellany of physical and superstitiob desires and needs, and sheds an interesting sidelight upon the life of the medieval Jew, and the hazards to which he was exposed. This view found its rationalization in the legend that the demons, created on the eve of the Sabbath, are bodiless.

Touching the eyes, ears, nose and mouth with unwashed hands spells trouble; no doubt it was feared that the evil spirits would enter the body through these orifices. To gain favor the suggestion was to recite various Psalms over oil and to anoint the face and hands with it.

Expectorating before or after the recital of the spell is one such universally known act, the mere performance of which was taken to indicate the intent of the recital, even though the words may have been altogether innocent of magical significance.

Incidentally, this entire prescription is written backward. Along with other German folk-beliefs the potent nine wormed its way into Jewish superstition. May 31, Bram rated it really liked it.

But the powers of all the variations derived directly from the original name which constituted their base. Since our literary sources are the product of the intellectual and spiritual leaders of the times, whose scholarship and official position must have served to accentuate their natural predilection for the traditional ways and beliefs of the Jewish past, the easy and unquestioned acceptance of these non-Jewish elements is indicative of the hold they must have gained superstiyion the popular imagination.


The simple act, by the rule of sympathy, produces its parallel effect.

Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion

But the greatest fear centered about those moments at the end of the day when the spirits were being driven back to their penance. In the event that one enemy precedes the other to the grave, the one left behind is in for an uncomfortable time, for spirits have long memories.

The Angels name changed according to the name that it was given. The earliest individual about whom such supertition fable was woven appears to have been R. This is a common practice among us German Tews.

A fascinating, surprisingly readable overview for the uninitiated. This work undoubtedly embodied much older material, but the absence of this concept in the Talmudic literature, and the fact that eastern Jewish mysticism entered Europe through the south of Italy at about this time, stamp it as a product of Geonic mystical speculation.

There can be no doubt that the rise in Jewish superstition generally, and especially in the belief in demons in this period, was a reflex of the spirit of the times. This principle was advanced in the Talmud, and since Aramaic was the spoken language of the people, the warning against praying in Aramaic was made especially emphatic.

Not a word to this effect do we jewidh in the north of Europe. The formulas usually specify just when they are to be carried out. View all 3 comments. Return to Book Page.

The invocation of names, 18 and in particular of angelic names, came distinctly and prominently to the fore only in the post- Talmudic period. Foreword by Moshe Idel pages 6 x 9 illus.