The Impact of Culture and Cultures Upon Jewish Customs and Rituals: Collected Essays

The Impact of Culture and Cultures Upon Jewish Customs and Rituals: Collected Essays

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Simcha Fishbane

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781618114914 (hardcover)
Pages: 280 pp.
Publication Date: February 2016

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This book discusses the development of practices associated with customs and artifacts used in Jewish ceremonies when viewed from the vantage of anthropological studies. It can also function as a guide to practical halakhah. The author examines topics such as Torah Scrolls, ceremonial use of fire, Purim customs, the festival of Shavuot, magic and superstition. This investigation, at times, compares some Jewish observances with the wider cultural observances or notions of the broader, gentile societies in which Jews were located when these customs originated.  It is found that the time and location of a practice’s origin is often critical to appreciating a shared context.  In all cases the Jewish practice becomes reinterpreted within a specifically Jewish narrative and legal structure.


Simcha Fishbane (PhD, Social Anthropology of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada 1988) is Professor of Jewish Studies in the Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Touro College. He has published extensively on Jewish subjects and texts. His publications include The Method and Meaning of the Mishnah Berurah (1991) and The Shtiebelization of Modern Jewry (2011).


Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction

Fire Symbolism in Jewish Law and Ritual

Behind the Purim Mask: The Symbolic Representation of the Rituals and Customs of Purim

In the Absence of Ritual: Customs of the Holiday of Shavuot

Holy and Licit Magic and Halakhah: The Case of the Arukh HaShulhan

The Symbolic Representation of the Sefer Torah

Index