Kabbalah and Popular Religion in Early Modern Moravia

doc. Tamás Visi, Ph. D. (FF UP, Centrum judaistických studií)


Kabbalah originated as an esoteric mystical lore in the Middle Ages but became the dominating force of Jewish religious thought in the Early Modern period and it influenced immensely popular religion. The purpose of the paper is to explore the presence of kabbalistic ideas and practices in early modern Moravia. Four groups of sources will be surveyed: (1) works by kabbalists active in Moravia, (2) kabbalistic texts copied or printed in Moravia, (3) kabbalistic elements in liturgy, communal decrees, and synagogue decorations in Moravia, (4) reports on exorcisms. Topics investigated will include: migration of kabbalists to and from Moravia, evidence for popular interest in Kabbalah from the early 17th century on, the works of Yehuda Aaron Altschuler (rabbi of Moravsky Krulmov ca. 1613), the works of Moshe Prager (Mikulov ca. 1696), the spread of kabbalistic rituals, such as tikkun hatzot, and the printing of kabbalistic texts for such rituals in Moravia.