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Reuchlin, Johannes

(2,621 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
Reuchlin, Johannes, * 22 Feb 1455 (Pforzheim), † 1522 (Liebenzell) Reuchlin was the leading German humanist of the Renaissance, the most prominent Hebraist of his age and the author of the central text of Christian kabbalah, De arte cabalistica (1517). The influence of his numerous books and the intense controversy which surrounded them make him a key figure in the history of European spirituality in the 16th century and the main influence on the integration of Jewish and kabbalistic elements into European thought [→ Jewish Influenc…

Cabala

(842 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
1. Term Cabala (also spelled cabbala, cabbalah, kabala, kabbala, and kabbalah) means “tradition”—more specifically, “esoteric, mystical tradition.” It is the common name for the most important school of Jewish mysticism, which flourished from the late 12th century to the 19th, mainly in Christian Europe and the Middle East. The early cabalists in medieval Europe relied on ancient Jewish (Judaism) mystical traditions known as Hekhalot (heavenly palaces) and Merkabah (chariot) mysticism and on the traditions of the ancient cosmological work Sefer Yetzirah (Book of creation). T…

Urbach

(200 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Urbach, Ephraim Elimelech (26.5.1912 Wloclawec, Polen – 2.7.1991 Jerusalem), gehörte in der 2. Hälfte des 20.Jh. zu den einflußreichsten Wissenschaftlern für Jüd. Studien. U. studierte am Breslauer Rabbinerseminar und an den Universitäten von Breslau und Rom. Seit 1938 in Jerusalem; ab 1953 lehrte er als Prof. für Talmudstudien an der Hebr. Universität Jerusalem. 1974 Präsident der isr. Akademie der Künste und Wiss. der »World Union of Jewish Studies«. Darüber hinaus engagierte sic…

Narboni

(143 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Narboni, Moses (ca.1300 Perpignan, Frankreich – 1363 Soria, Spanien), bedeutender jüd. Philosoph des 14.Jh. N. arbeitete als wandernder Arzt in verschiedenen Städten Spaniens und der Provence. Sein bekanntestes und einflußreichstes Werk ist der Komm. zu Moses Maimonides' »More Nevukhim« (veröff. 1852 in Wien). N. vertrat eine fundamentale Maimonides-Interpretation und folgte in höherem Maße als die meisten jüd. Rationalisten den Lehren Averroes'. N. behauptete eine Judentum, Chris…

Nagid

(273 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] (hebr. נָגִיד, Pl. Negidim) ist der hebr. Titel des Oberhauptes einer jüd. Gemeinde in einem arabischsprachigen Land. Er löste den bab. Titel »Rosh ha-Gola« (»Exilarch«; Resh Galuta) des frühen MA ab. In Spanien, Ägypten, Tunesien, Marokko und im Jemen entstanden mehrere Dynastien von N. Viele jüd. Dichter, Gelehrte, Philosophen und Wissenschaftler hatten diese Stellung inne, in einigen Fällen war sie über drei oder vier Generationen erblich. Das Amt des N. wurde nach dem Modell i…

Taku

(180 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Taku, Moses ben Chisdaj (ca.1170–1230). Rabbi Moses T., dessen Name sich wahrscheinlich auf eine Stadt – entweder Dachau oder Tachau in Böhmen – bezieht, war ein angesehener Tosafist (Tosafot), der zu einigen Talmudtraktaten und Rechtsresponsen Kommentare vf. Bis ins 15.Jh. wird er in der halakhischen Lit. oft zitiert. Vermutlich amtierte er als Rabbiner in Regensburg. In der Hs. Paris H711 findet sich die Abschrift eines Teils aus seinem polemischen Werk Ketav Tamim (»Ein Buch de…

Schneur Salman

(185 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] Schneur Salman, 1.  ben Baruch von Liadi (1745–1813 Piena, Bezirk Koisk), Gründer der chassidischen Chabad-Gemeinschaft (Lubawitsch, Chassidismus), Schüler des Großen Maggid Rabbi Dov Baer von Mezeritch. Als seine engsten Mitarbeiter, Menachem Mendel von Witebsk und Abraham von Kalisch, 1777 nach Safed gingen, übernahm er die Führung der Gemeinde in Südrußland. Sein wachsender Einfluß zog Tausende an seinen Hof. In seinem Bemühen um eine Lösung des Konflikts zw. den Chassiden und ihren…

Schneursohn

(344 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] 2.Menachem Mendel , von Ljubawitsch (1789 Liadi – 1866 ebd.), Enkel von 1., genannt Zemach Zedek, seit 1828 drittes Oberhaupt der chassidischen Chabad-Gemeinschaft (Lubawitsch). Sch. wuchs im Haus seines Großvaters, des Gründers der Gemeinschaft, auf und folgte ihm in seinen Lehren und der Art und Weise seiner geistigen Führerschaft. Unter ihm wurde die Chabad-Gemeinschaft zur zentralen, einflußreichen Größe im orth. osteur. Judentum. Seinen volkstümlichen Namen erhielt er nach de…

Tosafot/Tosafisten

(473 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] . Unter Tosafot (T.; wörtl. »Zusätze«) versteht man einen lit. Typus von Komm. und Diskussionen zu Abschnitten des Talmud, Ba‘ale ha-T. (»Autoren der T.«, Tosafisten) bezieht sich demnach auf die Schule der talm. Gelehrten, die diesen Typus entwickelten; sie waren zw. dem 11. und 13.Jh. bes. in Nordfrankreich und im westlichen Deutschland aktiv. In den Druckausg. des Talmud stehen die T. dem klassischen Komm. von Salomo ben Isaak (Rashi) gegenüber, beidseitig des eigentlichen Tal…

Nachman ben Simcha

(296 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[English Version] von Brazlav (1771 Medshibosh, Ukraine – 1811 Uman, ebd.). Rabbi N. ben S. gehörte zu den einflußreichsten Führern der chassidischen Bewegung (Chassidismus). Obwohl er ein Urenkel des Baal Shem Tov, des Gründers des Chassidismus, war, hatte sich nur eine kleine Gruppe von Schülern um ihn geschart. Auf seiner Pilgerreise in das Land Israel (1798) konnte er der Belagerung von Akko durch Napoleon I. an Bord eines türkischen Kriegsschiffes entkommen. Nach Europa zurückgekehrt, predigte…

Azriel of Girona

(186 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1160–1238) was a significant writer of the first generation of Kabbalists in Girona. He probably was a disciple of Isaac, and with Rabbi Ezra he founded a new center in Catalonia. Many of his ideas influenced the Zohar and hence the Kabbalah as a whole. He wrote a commentary on the traditional prayers, in which he identifies the hidden divine power within every word and letter; a commentary on the Haggadah, which was a major step in presenting a hidden kabbalistic meaning in talmudic sayings; a commentary on the ancient Sefer Yetzirah and many other treatises. He combi…

Zaddiq

(311 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] The term zaddiq (קידְּצַ/ ṣaddîq; “Righteous”) is in most cases a vague, general title associating with religious devotion and leadership. It indicates social involvement and ethical perfection beyond the strict demands of the Halakhah and prominent position in the religious community. The verse in Pro 10:25 gave this term a cosmic meaning: the zaddiq is the foundation of the universe ( axis mundi). The legends of the 36 zaddiqim who are the justification of the world’s existence developed from this concept. In the Kabbalah, the term was used to indicate the ni…

Hasidism

(1,178 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] I. Modern Hasidism – II. Ashkenazi Hasidism I. Modern Hasidism Hasidism is the largest and most important Orthodox Jewish religious movement of the modern period. Founded in southern Russian by Rabbi Israel Baʾal ¶ Shem Tov (acronym Besht) in the middle of the 18th century, it spread throughout Europe in the 19th century. Today its strongholds are in the great cities on the East Coast of the USA and in Israel. Before the Holocaust, the movement had several million members; today it numbers several hundred thousand,…

Bahya ibn Pakudah,

(256 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] author of Hovot ha-Levavot (“The Duties of the Heart”), the most popular and influential work of Jewish ethics from the Middle Ages. It was originally written in Arabic and remains to this day a classic of Jewish spirituality. Very little is known about the author. He probably lived in Saragossa and was, besides this work, also the author of several Hebrew religious poems ( piyyutim), of which two were appended to his book. Rabbi Judah ibn Tibbon translated the book into Hebrew around 116…

Ben Gurion, David

(248 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Oct 16, 1886, Plonsk, Poland – Dec 1, 1973, Sdeh Boker, Israel), the first prime minister of the state of Israel following his vigorous leadership of the Zionist movement (Zion); on May 14, 1948, Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel's independence. He remained in office with a short interval until 1953. As minister of defense, he led Israe…

Bahir, Sefer ha-Bahir

(281 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (“the Book of Brilliance”), also known as the Midrash of Rabbi Nechunia ben ha-Kanah (after the 2nd-cent. sage to whom the first paragraph in the book is attributed). It is the first work of the Kabbalah, and was written anonymously around 1185, probably in the Provence or in northern Spain. It contains around 200 paragraphs, which are attribu…

Baʾal Shem Tov

(337 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 1700, Okop, Ukraine – 1760, Mezibuz, Silesia), acronym: “Besht,” Baal Shem Tov, lit. “Master of the Good Name,” figuratively “Master of White Magic” was actually called Israel ben Eliezer and is considered to be the founder of the modern Jewish religious movement of the “Hasidim” (Hasidism). Hasidic tradition makes him the disciple of the prophet Achiya Ha-Shiloni (1 Kgs 11:29), who was, according to midrashic tradition (Midrash), the teacher of the prophet Elijah. The collection of legends known as Shivkhey ha-Besht (“In Praise…

Alnakawa, Israel

(263 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (died 1391 in Toledo), leader of the Jewish community in Toledo in the 14th century, author of one of the most important ethical/theological works of the period, Menorat ha-Maor (“Candelabrum of Light”). Alnakawa was the son of an important family in Toledo and a disciple of the great halakhists (Halakhah), Rabbi Asher ben Yehiel and his son Jacob. In the preface to his book Alnakawa tells how he was ordered …

Levi ben Gerson

(314 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Gersonides; acronym RaLBaG; 1288, Bagnols, Provence – 1344, Perpignan) is one of the most prominent rationalistic philosophers, scientists, and biblical exegetes of medieval Judaism. Born to a famous Provençal family, he lived most of his life in Orange and Avignon. He was known in Europe as Messer Leon de Bagnols or Magister Leo Hebreo de Bonnolis. Several of his treatises were translated into Latin and had an impact on European science, especially astronomy and philosophy. Levi…

Sefirot

(211 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Heb. סְפִרוֹת; sg. sefira). Sefirot is found for the first time in the Sefer Yetzirah: there are “ten and not nine, ten and not eleven,” i.e. the ten “directions” of the cosmos (up, down, beginning, end, north, south, east,west, good, evil), as well as the powers of the divine chariot and the cosmic elements. In the 13th century this term was adopted by the early kabbalists (Kabbalah) to denote the ten personal, dynamic powers which together constitute the emanated system of the divine world (Cosmology). Each Sefira is a divine power with unique characteristics: Ke…
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