Holy Men and Hunger Artists

Holy Men and Hunger Artists : Fasting and Asceticism in Rabbinic Culture

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The existence of ascetic elements within rabbinic Judaism has generally been either overlooked or actually denied. This is in part because asceticism is not commonly identified with celibacy, whereas the rabbis emphasized sexuality as a positive good. In addition, argues Eliezer Diamond, it serves the theological agendas of both Jewish and Christian scholars to characterise Judaism as non- or anti-ascetic. In fact, however, Diamond shows that rabbinic asceticism does indeed exist. This asceticism is secondary, rather than primary, in that the rabbis place no value on self-denial in and of itself, but rather require themselves the virtual abandonment of familial, social, and economic life in favour of an absolute commitment to the study of the Torah. It is an asceticism of neglect, rather than negation. One form of asceticism in particular - fasting - became increasingly popular in the wake of the destruction of the second temple. He traces this to the need to mourn the temple's devastation but also to the cessation of temple -related rituals. Diamond shows that fasting was seen as a substitute for these rituals when the Temple was destroyed.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 164 x 234 x 26mm | 580.6g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195137507
  • 9780195137507

Review quote

an untypical but revealing book * Yvan Verbraeck FVG *show more

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