In the past, Jewish ceremonial art was treated as decorative and functional. This book, in contrast, explicitly investigates the symbolism and theological meanings of the objects. It is as if we merged the studies of Moshe Idel with art history. Hasidic Art and the Kabbalah presents eight case studies, almost as exhibits, of manuscripts, ritual objects and folk art developed by Hasidic masters in the mid-eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries. Goldman-Ida investigates the sources for the items in the Zohar, German Pietism, Safed Kabbalah and Hasidism. She shows Kabbalah embodied in material culture, not just as abstract ideas. In addition, we are treated to discussions of magical theory from James Fraser and on the subjective experience of the user at the moment of ritual using the theories of Wolfgang Iser, Gaston Bachelard, and Walter Benjamin.”This is on a period later than PaleoJudaica's usual interests, but I try to keep an eye on the full range of developments in the study of Jewish mysticism. There is lots of room for this sort of groundbreaking work in earlier periods too, even if the surviving artifacts are fewer.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.