The Generations of Adam

The Generations of Adam

The Generations of Adam

The Generations of Adam

Synopsis

The Shelah is a consummate scholar who demonstrates mastery in every aspect of rabbinic learning, to wit, halakhah and talmudic jurisprudence, homiletics and biblical exegesis, philosophy and ethics, and above all else the esoteric tradition known as the Kabbalah. Horowitz combines an extensive knowledge of talmudic-halakhic Judaism and kabbalistic lore and thereby forges a synthesis that he presents as the basic reality of Jewish religiosity.

Excerpt

The Sheney Luhot ha-Berit of R. Isaiah ben Abraham Horowitz, known on the basis of this work as the Holy Shelah, is a classic work of East‐ European ethical literature of the seventeenth century. in spite of the fact that most of the composition of the book took place in the Land of Israel, the Sheney Luhot ha-Berit is a mirror that reflects the distinctive texture of rabbinic culture of Ashkenazi and Polish Jewry in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. the Shelah is a consummate scholar who demonstrates mastery in every aspect of rabbinic learning, to wit, halakhah and talmudic jurisprudence, homiletics and biblical exegesis, philosophy and ethics, and above all else the esoteric tradition known as the Kabbalah. Horowitz combines an extensive knowledge of talmudic-halakhic Judaism and kabbalistic lore and thereby forges a synthesis that he presents as the basic reality of Jewish religiosity.

Indeed, one of the most significant characteristics of the Sheney Luhot ha-Berit is the author's interweaving of the different threads of rabbinic learning to produce a seamless garment of mystical pietism. in the mind of a figure like the Shelah there is no discontinuity between the exoteric and the esoteric, no chasm separating normative halakhah and mystical rite. On the contrary, as Horowitz says quite explicitly in the Sheney Luhot ha-Berit, the revealed meaning (nigleh) is the hidden (nistar); that is, there is a complete overlapping of the exoteric and the esoteric dimensions of Judaism. This convergence is amply manifest not only in the Shelah's masterful ability to move effortlessly from one body of literature to another, but also in his application of talmudic modes of study (especially the dialectical approach known as pilpul) to the kabbalistic sources. in the Shelah's presentation of rabbinic Judaism there is perfect harmony between the outer and inner, legalism and mysticism. It is this feature that made the Sheney Luhot ha‐ Berit one of the most popular books among Ashkenazi Jews for generations.

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