Jewish Magic Before the Rise of Kabbalah
(Wayne State University Press, 2017) opens new vistas not only on the history of the practice of magic throughout Jewish history, but on the variety and syncretistic depth of such practices. Its author is Yuval Harari
, professor in the Department of Jewish Thought and head of the Program of Folklore Studies at Ben Gurion University. Professor Harari's work challenges perceptions and categorizations of what Jewish magic is, and what its place in the Judaism of late antiquity was. It thus promises to facilitate a reappraisal of the performative practices, the beliefs and rituals, on which Jewish life as we know it is founded. Professor Harari's work carefully and systematically examines a wide variety of Jewish texts and artifacts, and reveals the extent to which the practice of magic is woven into Jewish ritual, thought, culture, from Late Antiquity through and beyond the Middle Ages.
David Gottlieb is a PhD Candidate in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research interests center on the influence of rabbinic midrash on the formation of Jewish cultural memory. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.