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Powers Of Language In Kabbalah: Comparative Reflections

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes two kinds of power of language-sound and breathe-which are discussed in Kabbalistic writing. The assumption that language, and especially sacral language such as Hebrew, is replete with power can be found in numerous Kabbalistic texts, as well as in many works belonging to other genres of Jewish writing. The latter include Talmudic/Midrashic literature, Halachah (Law), Philosophy, Biblical exegesis, Mussar (Ethics) and Magic. The chapter focuses on belief in the power of non-semantic aspects of language furthest removed from the communicative and conventional linguistic modes. A comparison between the extensive material organized by Padoux and the Jewish sources discussed in the chapter contributes towards more general theoretical formulations of the power of non-semantic aspects of language. A striking example of the need for further theoretical reflection on Padoux's discussion relates to the role of isomorphism.

Keywords: divine voice; Kabbalistic writing; poetic language; speech



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