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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The superstitipn of the incubus and the succubus finds its counterpart in medieval Jewish folklore. Certain words come to assume occult virtues by reason of the tradition jewjsh has developed about them, or because of their fancied descent from the potent charms of ancient times or foreign peoples.

Yet even Christians in high places were not averse to using these magical instruments themselves. But the scholarly and pious character of the student of mysticism and the essentially religious nature of Jewish magic ensured a minimum of misuse of this lore.

Maimonides wrote, in his capacity of physician, that the spittle of a fasting person is hostile to poisons. And so it goes. Until about the North European community remained fairly homogeneous, and Germanic. Frequently the root term seems to have been chosen at random, having no apparent relation to the function of the angel as given, though it is likely that at the time of the creation of such jeewish the word employed was intended to indicate the angelic character.

Jewish Magic and Superstition

The literature of Jewish magic was predominantly an anthology of magical names. A few new details were added but they were not, I am afraid, of much help in making the evil spirits more readily recognizable.

Like his feminine counterpart, the estrie, he requires human blood in his diet—another version of the vampire. The invocation of names, 18 and in particular of angelic names, came distinctly and prominently to the fore only in the post- Talmudic period.

In fact, however, it may be questioned whether they were anything more to the medieval Jew rrachtenberg the mere names which served to identify them.


Jewish Magic and Superstition | Joshua Trachtenberg, Moshe Idel

Needless to say they obeyed with alacrity, and their death-rate became normal once more. There is one point that should be stressed in connection with this image-magic, which is true of all medieval Jewish magic. To tell the truth, the game is a hazardous one, for scholars rarely agree, and the result is hardly worth the labor— except to a scholar.

Aphrodite put in an appearance as one of the angels of the planet Venus, appropriately enough, and Hermes was one of the guardians of the sun. The idea of binding is the constantly recurring refrain of a post-Talmudic Aramaic incantation: First published more than sixty years ago, Trachtenberg’s study remains the foundational scholarship on magical practices in the Jewish world and offers an understanding of folk beliefs that expressed most eloquently the everyday religion of the Jewish people.

The use of barbarous syllables and words, however, was rare in Babylonian magic, and its entrance into the Jewish magical science must be traced to Egypt. Despite the hazardousness of seeking to trace such terms back to foreign origins, efforts along this line have been made, with the usual success and unanimity.

The latter was preferred by the weight of tradition, and during the Middle Ages Ps. Occasional remarks seem to minimize the danger.

Sefer Raziel contains two examples of this jeiwsh, one involving the gradual jewisj of the nine words of Cant. We need not seek so far for an explanation, however; the plain sense of the psalm indicates such an obvious employment. He realized at once that these were no ordinary men, but demons. Nathan Hanover, however, in inserting this name into the prayers in conjunction with the Priestly Benediction showed himself responsive to the most persistent tradition relating to it.

Sometimes, as we have observed, the recital was complicated by reversing the usual order, or transposing words, or repeating them a given number of times. So far as these unnumbered hosts, often so fantastically superstotion, were concerned, the impression gained from a study of the literature is that we are really dealing here with a dual category.


One source attributed to their non-existent heads—hair!

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

The peculiar role of the angels, heavenly counterparts of all earthly phenomena, as well as the direct supefstition and emissaries of God, closest to His ear, rendered powerful indeed the man who possessed the secret of bending them to his will. Laws] of Creation and create a three-year-old calf which they ate. This belief was more prevalent among Babylonian Jews than among Palestinian.

The book covered more than what I summarized so you will have to read it yourself to dig out those precious nugget. Once a man who fell asleep in a synagogue and was locked in by the sexton awoke to find himself in the midst of such a spirit congregation; to his amazement he discerned the forms of two superstittion who were still among the living.

When the creature attained giant size and strength, the Rabbi, appalled by its destructive potentialities, tore the life-giving name from its forehead and it crumbled into dust.

Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion

Who was the Jewish magician? Medieval Christendom, under the influence of the same Gnostic and Hellenistic tendencies, was equally well acquainted with the virtues and effects of name-invocation.

It runs in this wise: Included supestition the incorporeal spirits, it was none the less also a woman, a flesh-and-blood member of the community. Ed Fagan rated it liked it May 17, A magical recipe to gain release from prison prescribed its daily recitation 72 times, along with other Scriptural selections. But direct yrachtenberg upon the body of Jesus was apparently too simple and gross a procedure to satisfy the crafty Jews, and they frequently resorted to a more recondite method of wreaking their venom upon the Christians and their Lord.