Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Wonder working rabbis" and "Golems"

Would you recommend works that will assist me in learning about "wonder-working rabbis" and/or about "golems"?

In regards to "wonder-working rabbis" (often known as Baale Shem - "masters of the name", referring to their usage of God's name to effect magic), I would recommend the following titles:

- Etkes, I. The Besht : magician, mystic, and leader. [Hanover : Brandeis University Press, published by University Press of New England, 2005].
- Rosman, Murray Jay. Founder of Hasidism : a quest for the historical Ba’al Shem Tov.[Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, 1996].

Even though these works deal primarily with Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov, they also give important overviews of the Ba'al Shem phenomenon in general. These items will also have citations which you can trace back to other important sources.

In regards to research on the "golem" phenomenon I would recommend the following titles:

- Scholem, Gershom Gerhard. "The Idea of the Golem" in: On the Kabbalah and its symbolism. [New York : Schocken Books, 1965], p.158-204.
- Idel, Moshe. Golem : Jewish mystical and magical traditions on the artificial anthropoid. [Albany, NY : State University of New York Press, 1990].

These texts contain extensive coverage of this topic and can point you to other sources that discuss the matter.

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