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“Den Ikh Bin Treyfe Gevezn”: Body Perceptions In Seventeenth-Century Jewish Autobiographical Texts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how a certain set of rules laid out in normative texts shaped the body perception of people who were expected to follow these rules. The body causes not only regrettable deviance from religious ideals. In the descriptions of pregnancy, birth, illness, and the plague in Jewish self-writing of the seventeenth century, the body appears also as a source of crisis, suffering, and despair and not one of pleasure, satisfaction and enjoyment. The body has to be controlled according to Gods commandments, but it is ultimately God upon whose mercy and justice physical experiences depends. Autobiographical texts have been used for a long time by social historians, and they provide us with valuable information on how Jews lived and which values they hold dear.

Keywords: bodily experience; body perceptions; divine perfection; Gods commandments; Halakhah; Jewish autobiographical texts; normative rules



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