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By Shaul Magid

In From Metaphysics to Midrash, Shaul Magid explores the exegetical culture of Isaac Luria and his fans in the old context in 16th-century Safed, a distinct neighborhood that introduced practitioners of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam into shut touch with each other. Luria's scripture turned a theater within which kabbalists redrew barriers of distinction in parts of ethnicity, gender, and the human relation to the divine. Magid investigates how cultural affects altered scriptural exegesis of Lurianic Kabbala in its philosophical, hermeneutical, and old views. He means that Luria and his fans have been faraway from cloistered. They used their enormous abilities to weigh in on very important concerns of the day, delivering, now and then, a few incredible ideas to perennial theological difficulties.

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Extra info for From Metaphysics to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature)

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Is there an antidote for Adam’s sin or are all human beings, as mirrors of creation, corrupt from their inception? My contention is that Genesis 3 is crucial for Luria and his disciples because their interests are precisely about the contours of being human, its limitations and possibilities, and not simply about the history of Israel in the conventional sense. 2 Howed ever, his focus on Genesis, even as Adam is construed as Israel, is a notewd worthy shift in Lurianic teaching worth exploring.

The reason for the number five seems to be that under optimal circumstances each one of the lower five sephirot of any parzuf (excluding yesod which is viewed as the culmination of the other sephirot) of any parzuf (hesed, gevurah, tiferet, nezah, hod) would have one hesed and one gevurah. Since optimal circumstances rarely occur due to cosmic dysfunctionality and human sin, in most cases the hasadim and gevurot are misplaced. Sometimes the gevurot descend first without the accompanying hesed, thereby blemishing the sephirot they occupy.

The biblical context of Lurianic metaphysics is never abandoned in its myth. Leah is the “unloved” wife of Jacob (Gen. 29:31) and Rachel is the beloved object of Jacob’s desire (Gen. 29:18). Yet Leah is the first wife and the more fertile mother. The sexual relationship with Leah is essential (although not desired), as it produces most of Jacob’s progeny (this inca cludes children born from the two maidservants Bilah and Zilpah). Jaca cob’s sexual relationship with Rachel is a pure expression of his love yet only produces two children, Benjamin and Joseph.

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