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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In practice, the process involves not so much a deliberate act of appropriation on the part of the magician, who is himself a member of the religious group, as it does a utilization of those tools that lie at hand.
Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion – Joshua Trachtenberg – Google Books
The magicians exercised great freedom of choice, selecting in a given case the duperstition 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 supersition. The Palestinian sources, and in particular the Mishna, know the evil eye only as an expression of the moral powers of envy and hatred. To gain understanding it was enough to recite a group of seven names seven times over a cup of old wine and drink it, though usually the procedure was more naive.
It seems more than probable that this last version contains the clew to the whole business. Both Jewish and pagan magic agreed in requiring the accumulation of as many names of the deity or demon as possible, for fear lest no one name exhaust the potentiality of the spiritual being conjured.
His sources, within his area of focus, are indeed extensive, and more than sufficient for an introductory book of this nature, which aims to give an overview of a complex phenomenon. This is an elaboration of his Columbia University Ph.
Further, medieval witchcraft and sorcery were based upon a perverted worship of Satan, according to popular belief, and trachtenbeerg warlocks were supposed consciously to accept the suzerainty of the Power of Evil and to operate through an appeal to his aid. Since all creation is engaged in the quest for perfection, all things striving to attain the next higher degree of being, the demons, too, are perpetually seeking to acquire the body of man, their greatest desire trachtebberg for that of the scholar, the highest type of human.
His numerous publications include Kabbalah: A father leading his child to school for the first time took the precaution to screen him with his cloak. Ed Fagan rated it liked it May 17, When you disinter it, dip it carefully in water tradhtenberg times, so that it is washed clean, once in the name of Michael, again in the name of Gabriel, and the third time in the name of Raphael, and immerse it in some urine.
Prior to the inception of the Superstittion in the thirteenth century, excesses attributed to sorcery had been punished trachtenbrrg the secular authorities simply as criminal acts.
Pipi—the name itself is intriguing, but even more so is its tortuous etymological career. Jacob Molln said that a man should beware not to spend the night alone even in his bed-chamber; he himself used to keep a boy beside him at night. He himself mentioned a series of works in his letter, which marked the highest development of this doctrine superstitiom the Geonic period, and proved the futility of his strictures against it.
Even in the grave this principle still obtained. Long after the body has departed trachgenberg life, the spirit still frequents its ancient haunts, maintaining a shadowy connection with the world it superstiton and loved. Witness the spirits of evil men which are assimilated to the demonic ranks, and become implacable enemies of humankind! The injunction of Deut.
Medieval charms and magical recipes reflect this universal attitude. The Talmudic literature, both the Aggadic folklore and the Halacha, accepted their presence as axiomatic. An angel executing a decree of sickness or death might visit it upon the first who answered to the designated name.
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 flesh which he intended to put to a magical or medicinal use. If a Jewish doctor healed someone he ran risk because if the person dies he would be accused of poisoning that person.
Though there is not a single unequivocal report of a professional Jewish sorcerer or witch, thus defined, in Jewish or Christian records, we may safely assume that some Jews did not hesitate to emulate the accepted model. Her mouth must be stopped up with earth, and she will be rendered harmless.
Jewish Magic and Superstition
Among the ancient Teutons Holle, or Holda, or Hulda, appeared as an ugly old witch, with long, matted hair and protruding teeth. The invocation of names, 18 and in particular of angelic names, came distinctly and prominently to the fore only in the post- Talmudic period. The name of 12 letters, mentioned in the Talmud, was a dead- letter in post-Talmudic times. Similar phrases are in use all over the world.
For all their usually beneficent attitude toward the living, they were still members of the unknown and uncanny spirit world, possessed of illimitable power—power for ill as well as for good. Every mystic, properly trained, trachtdnberg practice magic as a side-line. What simpler or more obvious device than to exclude them from his immediate environment?
Among the better-known of these legends is the one connected with the name of Elijah of Chelm middle sixteenth century which developed during the seventeenth century.
He chose this area because of its richness, and its absorption and “Judaization” of the folk beliefs current in the local cultures within which the Jews existed.
More than this we cannot say concerning its age. The Aramaic texts published by Montgomery and others represent an intermediary stage in the process; while incomparably richer than in the Talmudic literature, the angelic nomenclature of these inscriptions was not yet so elaborate as we find it in later Geonic and medieval works.
The widespread belief in the Middle Ages that at the moment of death a struggle ensues between the angels and the devil over the soul of the deceased was paralleled jewisy Jewish thought jrwish the notion that the demons seek to gain possession of the corpse while it is yet unburied. For if the patient risked his life when he called in a Jewish doctor, that doctor also risked his when he rolled up his sleeves and set to work.
Corresponding with Holle-locke is the term Hollenzopf50 The lady made her way into Jewish life in her other role as well.
It is significant, for instance, that a homely little book like supersittion Yiddish Brantspiegel1 intended for the intimate instruction of womenfolk, a book which certainly came closer to the folk psyche than did the more formal writing of the period, singled out as the foremost dangers to life and limb demons, evil spirits, wild animals and evil tracchtenberg. Woe betide him if it had slipped his memory! The formulas usually specify just when they are to be carried out. A house or a city in which children die young, a family that has been frequently bereaved, a woman whose husbands do not survive, all must be avoided like the pest.
Papa observed that the creative power of magic covered only gross and massive objects and creatures, such as the camel, but not fine and delicate things, and R. Not satisfied with the possibilities thus provided, the vowel points, too, were altered and transposed in order to create new variations of the Great Name, and such forms as yahavaha, ye- havha, yahvah, yeheveh, etc.
The Pythagorean concept of the creative power of numbers and letters was known in Tannaitic times; the famous Amor a Rab about g. The spirit likes to find itself among friends, or at least among others of its own station and character.
About the permissibility of employing names and angels there was no question, for the Talmud had legalized their use, but the invocation of demons was generally considered less praiseworthy. It took shape through incidental attempts to rationalize on a single plane the effects of nature and magic, on the basis of those philosophical and mystical concepts which were current in medieval Jewish thought; one might say in thirteenth-century Germ an-Jewish thought, for it was during this century and in this locale that supertsition conception was elaborated and attained its greatest popularity.
At any rate it is based on the three verses of Exodus,