Sabbath in the Classical Kabbalah, The

By Elliot K. Ginsburg

Series: SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion
Paperback : 9780887067792, 341 pages, June 1989
Hardcover : 9780887067785, 341 pages, June 1989

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This book is a critical study of the mystical celebration of Sabbath in the classical period of Kabbalah, from the late twelfth to the early sixteenth centuries. The Kabbalists' re-reading of the earlier Jewish tradition has been called a model of "mythopoeic revision," a revision rooted in a world-view that stressed the interrelation of all worlds and levels of being. This is the first work, in any language, to systematically collect and analyze all the major innovations in praxis and theology that classical Kabbalah effected upon the development of the Rabbinic Sabbath, one of the most central areas of Jewish religious practice.

The author analyzes the historical development of the Kabbalistic Sabbath, constructs a theoretical framework for the interpretation of its dense myth-ritual structure, and provides a phenomenology of key myths and rituals. It is one of the first Kabbalistic studies to integrate traditional textual-historical scholarship with newer methods employed in the study of religion and symbolic anthropology.

Elliot K. Ginsburg is Associate Professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Program and the Department of Religion at Oberlin College.


"Ginsburg succeeds in finding his way through a vast web of difficult materials and presents them intelligibly to the modern reader. He has applied the categories of anthropology and history of religions to his materials in a most creative manner. " — Arthur Green, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College