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Ephraim Discovers Philosophy (Gleanings Of Ephraim—1590)

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Chapter Summary

In 1590, Ephraim published his second book, Gleanings of Ephraim, a collection of sermons for Jewish holidays and life-cycle events. The bulk of Gleanings of Ephraim is a collection of sermons, originally delivered in Yiddish, but rewritten into Hebrew for publication and edited to provide overall continuity. The lengthy Part II is devoted to holiday sermons mostly for Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) in that order. Sermon 22 of Part II is one of his finest examples. It is characteristic of the Gleanings with respect to a casual reference Ephraim makes in this sermon to the 15th-century Spanish preacher Isaac Arama. Developing the ?second sight? to perceive the mysteries of the common mitzvot requires a kind of enlightenment, which is described figuratively by Jacob?s ladder. In the chapter Ephraim seeks to find a meaning in the configuration of the festival calendar as a whole.

Keywords: Ephraim's philosophy; Gleanings of Ephraim (1590); holiday sermon; Isaac Arama; Jacob?s ladder; Jewish festival calendar; Shavuot; Sukkot



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