Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural by David A. Wacks

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By David A. Wacks

The yr 1492 has lengthy divided the learn of Sephardic tradition into certain sessions, sooner than and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries and indicates that this literature used to be formed through interwoven stories of diaspora: first from the Biblical place of origin Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish in a foreign country, those writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to supply a uniquely Sephardic point of view. Wacks brings Diaspora reports into discussion with medieval and early glossy Sephardic literature for the 1st time.

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Extra resources for Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492

Sample text

As Esperanza Alfonso notes, Shaprut’s letter begins with the requisite tropes of galut (nomadism, statelessness), but also concedes that the situation of the Andalusi Jews (for the moment) is generally positive:49 How, indeed, can an idea be expressed in fair words by those who have wandered, after the glory of the kingdom has departed; who have long suffered afflictions and calamities, and see their flags in the land no more? 50 But the section where Ibn Shaprut quizzes Joseph on the geopolitical realities of the Jewish Khazari kingdom is more revealing of Ibn Shaprut’s fascination with the possibility of Jewish sovereignty: Diaspora Studies for Sephardic Culture 23 What walled cities and what open towns it has; whether it be watered by artificial or natural means, and how far his dominion extends and also the number of his armies and leaders?

3 In the first text, the debate between the sword and the pen, he deals more directly with the question of temporal and intellectual power. The 34 Allegory and Romance in Diaspora 35 genre of the debate between pen and sword had long been cultivated by Arabic authors writing from the perspective of a sovereign majority. Here Ben Elazar maps the conventional allegorical interpretation of the sword as military (concrete) force and the pen as intellectual (symbolic) power onto the internal struggle in the Jewish community between rationalists and antirationalists, two opposing theological camps in Castilian Jewry.

The catastrophic experiences surrounding the expulsions from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497) caused Jews to rethink their experience. This had significant repercussions for how they conceived of prophetic eschatology as expressed in kabbalistic writing and also for Jewish law and the emergent genre of Jewish historiography. 77 Karo proposed that God, or the shekhinah, requires assistance (and not simple obedience) from the faithful. 78 This gives us an overview of how medieval Sephardic Jews understood the question of galut and their place in human and divine history.

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