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The Message of a Mitsvah: The Mezuzah in Rabbinic Literature

Jansson, Eva-Maria LU (1999) In Skrifter utgivna av Sällskapet för judaistisk forskning 8.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingens ämne är den <i>mezuzah</i>, en kapsel med texter ur 5 Mosebok, som bör fästas på dörrposterna i ett judiskt hem, i uppfyllande av budet i 5 Mos. 6:9/11:21: "och du skall skriva dem [dessa ord] på dörrposterna i ditt hus och på dina portar". Genom en översikt över rabbinska texter vilka behandlar budet att fästa en <i>mezuzah</i> på dörrposterna i hemmet inventeras de föreställningar som förbinds med mezuzan och framför allt tankarna kring mezuzans skyddande funktion. Dessa föreställningar, liksom de tillägg till texten i mezuzan som förekommit genom historien har ofta förklarats ha sitt ursprung i 'magi' eller mystik. I avhandlingen visas att så inte kan vara... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingens ämne är den <i>mezuzah</i>, en kapsel med texter ur 5 Mosebok, som bör fästas på dörrposterna i ett judiskt hem, i uppfyllande av budet i 5 Mos. 6:9/11:21: "och du skall skriva dem [dessa ord] på dörrposterna i ditt hus och på dina portar". Genom en översikt över rabbinska texter vilka behandlar budet att fästa en <i>mezuzah</i> på dörrposterna i hemmet inventeras de föreställningar som förbinds med mezuzan och framför allt tankarna kring mezuzans skyddande funktion. Dessa föreställningar, liksom de tillägg till texten i mezuzan som förekommit genom historien har ofta förklarats ha sitt ursprung i 'magi' eller mystik. I avhandlingen visas att så inte kan vara fallet. Föreställningarna har snarare sin bakgrund i den talmudiska litteraturen och tilläggen är inte speciellt ofta förekommande i de mystika judiska texterna. Det kan inte heller bevisas att mezuzan ursprungligen var en amulett, vilket också föreslagits som förklaring till både föreställningar och tillägg. Slutligen konstateras att varken föreställningar eller tillägg kan anses vara ett resultat av folklig påverkan på de rabbinska författarna, eftersom de texter i vilka både föreställningar och tillägg förekommer är avsedda att vara vägledande i religionsutövningen och alltså inte torde innehålla tankar som inte kan anses vara en integrerad del av den rabbinska tankevärlden. (Less)
Abstract
The present study deals with different aspects of the <i>mitsvat mezuzah</i> in Rabbinic literature from the first to the sixteenth centuries, with some emphasis on the medieval sources. Through a charting of statements regarding the <i>mezuzah</i> as an object, and the <i>mitsvat mezuzah</i> and its fulfilment, an overview is given of the development of the <i>mezuzah</i> and the perception of it. Special attention is given to the appearance of additions to the written content of the <i>mezuzah</i>: on the outside of the parchment, divine names; on the inside, different signs, hexagrams and pentagrams and Biblical verses. These additions begin to appear in the early medieval... (More)
The present study deals with different aspects of the <i>mitsvat mezuzah</i> in Rabbinic literature from the first to the sixteenth centuries, with some emphasis on the medieval sources. Through a charting of statements regarding the <i>mezuzah</i> as an object, and the <i>mitsvat mezuzah</i> and its fulfilment, an overview is given of the development of the <i>mezuzah</i> and the perception of it. Special attention is given to the appearance of additions to the written content of the <i>mezuzah</i>: on the outside of the parchment, divine names; on the inside, different signs, hexagrams and pentagrams and Biblical verses. These additions begin to appear in the early medieval sources; the additions on the outside are present to this day but on the inside they are not in use from the 13th century onwards. The charting of the notions shows that the <i>mezuzah</i> in the Talmudic literature was strongly connected to thoughts of reward and punishment in terms of protection and longevity. Also the lack of protection and untimely death were mentioned. It can therefore be assumed that the notion in the later material of the <i>mezuzah</i> as protective was not a result of it being believed to have ‘magical’ powers through the additions or to originally have been an amulet, but rather as a result of the Talmudic discussions, which are reiterated throughout the period under investigation. The similarities between amulets and certain <i>mezuzot</i> do not indicate that the <i>mezuzah</i> ever was or had become an amulet, but were merely a result of these notions: both the <i>mezuzah</i> and the amulet protect against demons, the most general cause of sickness and untimely death in the early Rabbinic literature. The study also draws attention to the fact that the designation of the additions to the inside of the <i>mezuzah</i> as ‘Kabbalistic’ or mystical is not tenable, as few of the mystical works investigated give any attention to them. Nor can the notions or additions be said to be the result of popular influences on the Rabbinic authors, since they are found in works originating in Rabbinic circles, intended for other Rabbinic readers or as halakhic guides for the lay-people. The notions and additions described must therefore be regarded as an integral part of the Rabbinic framework. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Prof. van der Heide, Albert
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Non-Christian religions, Rabbinic literature, addition, notion, mezuzah, mitsvah, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)
in
Skrifter utgivna av Sällskapet för judaistisk forskning
volume
8
pages
192 pages
publisher
Arken
defense location
University Main Building, room 216
defense date
1999-03-26 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUREDN/REJU--99/1001--SE
ISSN
0348-2324
ISBN
91-628-3402-9
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a20e0004-ece1-406f-9797-0c5f1386dae0 (old id 19058)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 08:36:08
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:54
@phdthesis{a20e0004-ece1-406f-9797-0c5f1386dae0,
  abstract     = {The present study deals with different aspects of the &lt;i&gt;mitsvat mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; in Rabbinic literature from the first to the sixteenth centuries, with some emphasis on the medieval sources. Through a charting of statements regarding the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; as an object, and the &lt;i&gt;mitsvat mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; and its fulfilment, an overview is given of the development of the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; and the perception of it. Special attention is given to the appearance of additions to the written content of the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt;: on the outside of the parchment, divine names; on the inside, different signs, hexagrams and pentagrams and Biblical verses. These additions begin to appear in the early medieval sources; the additions on the outside are present to this day but on the inside they are not in use from the 13th century onwards. The charting of the notions shows that the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; in the Talmudic literature was strongly connected to thoughts of reward and punishment in terms of protection and longevity. Also the lack of protection and untimely death were mentioned. It can therefore be assumed that the notion in the later material of the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; as protective was not a result of it being believed to have ‘magical’ powers through the additions or to originally have been an amulet, but rather as a result of the Talmudic discussions, which are reiterated throughout the period under investigation. The similarities between amulets and certain &lt;i&gt;mezuzot&lt;/i&gt; do not indicate that the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; ever was or had become an amulet, but were merely a result of these notions: both the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; and the amulet protect against demons, the most general cause of sickness and untimely death in the early Rabbinic literature. The study also draws attention to the fact that the designation of the additions to the inside of the &lt;i&gt;mezuzah&lt;/i&gt; as ‘Kabbalistic’ or mystical is not tenable, as few of the mystical works investigated give any attention to them. Nor can the notions or additions be said to be the result of popular influences on the Rabbinic authors, since they are found in works originating in Rabbinic circles, intended for other Rabbinic readers or as halakhic guides for the lay-people. The notions and additions described must therefore be regarded as an integral part of the Rabbinic framework.},
  author       = {Jansson, Eva-Maria},
  isbn         = {91-628-3402-9},
  issn         = {0348-2324},
  keyword      = {Non-Christian religions,Rabbinic literature,addition,notion,mezuzah,mitsvah,Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {192},
  publisher    = {Arken},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Skrifter utgivna av Sällskapet för judaistisk forskning},
  title        = {The Message of a Mitsvah: The Mezuzah in Rabbinic Literature},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {1999},
}