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In: Representing Jewish Thought
Proceedings of the 2015 Institute of Jewish Studies Conference Held in Honour of Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert
Editor: Agata Paluch
Representing Jewish Thought originated in the conference, convened in honour of Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, on the theme of visual representations of Jewish thought from antiquity to the early modern period. The volume encompasses essays on various modes and media of transmitting and re/presenting thought, pertinent to Jewish past and present. It explores several approaches to the study of the transmission of ideas in historical sources, zooming in on textual and visual hermeneutics to material and textual culture to performative arts. The volume has brought together scholars from different subfields of Jewish Studies, covering thousands of years of Jewish history, who invite further scholarly reflection on the expression, transmission, and organisation of knowledge in Jewish contexts.
Author: Agata Paluch

Abstract

Kavanot, or mystical intentions, have acquired varied meanings and interpretations in kabbalistic literatures, from the practice of harmonising one’s mind with the requirement of performed ritual to elaborate processes of mental focus, exercised during prayer and other ritual acts, on divine attributes signified by divine names and stipulated meticulously in kabbalistic prayer-books. Early modern practical kabbalistic manuals also, to no surprise, abound with instructions which recommend a variety of kavanot. In many of these manuals and books of recipes, it is the intention that enables extending of one’s mind toward matter, and builds a new type of continuity between the practitioner and the outside world. Intentionality in kabbalistic practice thus channels the emergence of the performing, knowledgeable self, engaged in shaping the material world, a development which runs parallel to the emergence of new configurations of knowledge in the early modern period. This rise of intentional self, manifest in kabbalistic practices as expressed in early modern handwritten books of recipes of East-Central European provenance, will be the focus of this article.

In: Aries