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Title: Isaiah Horowitz's Shenei Luhot Haberit (Shelah) : a vision of Jewish pietism
Author: Citron, Joseph Zechariah Francis
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 5502
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis provides the first comprehensive analysis of Isaiah Horowitz's 1649 magnum opus, the Shenei Luhot Haberit (Shelah) and its contribution towards Jewish Thought. Horowitz's work is an 844-paged encyclopaedia which presents the mystical kabbalah as the authoritative philosophy of Judaism, explaining how it informs all other areas of Jewish Thought. In this manner, Horowitz reinterpreted classical Jewish beliefs along kabbalistic lines and developed a concept of Jewish Orthodoxy 200 years before the term became widespread. Horowitz's contribution towards Jewish mysticism is best understood as a reconfiguration of esoteric concepts into ordinary modes of behaviour: unlike his kabbalistic predecessors, Horowitz argued that mystical union with God is achieved through everyday activities and not exclusively through extraordinary meditative states. Furthermore, Horowitz broke with the time-honoured separation between the legal and mystical spheres by showing how kabbalah is necessary in order to decide matters of Jewish law. By inserting many kabbalistic customs into the Shelah and conferring texts such as the Zohar with authoritative legal status, Horowitz directed Ashkenazic Judaism along kabbalistic lines in the 17th century. Horowitz also cultivated an ethos of pietism which emphasised world-affirmation and joy: two dominant themes in the Shelah are that every Jew can serve God through sanctifying the material world and that religious conduct is empty without passion and enthusiasm. This culminates in an eschatological vision where the messiah will arrive after the realm of evil has been purified through personal and national transformation. The Shelah was a highly influential work, and this study provides an important aid for scholars trying to understand the intellectual and religious development of diffuse Jewish movements ranging from the Sabbateans in the 17th century, the Hasidism and their opponents in the 18th century and the Orthodox in the 19th century.
Supervisor: Stern, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available