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“Who Knows What The Cause Is?”: “Natural” And “Unnatural” Causes For Illness In The Writings Of Ba'Alei Shem, Doctors And Patients Among German Jews In The Eightheenth Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents the various reasons for the appearance of physical illness as found in the writings of Baʿalei Shem, doctors, and patients, and portray the treatments that they implemented. It suggests a model that will enable to more clearly understand the nature of healers and their various practices as well as the broader medical world of German Jews in Early Modern Period. The model it presents comprises of three intersecting spheres. The application of Gentilcores model to Jewish society will certainly require a redefinition of the ecclesiastical sphere. Author chooses the concept spiritual for this sphere. The second sphere in Gentilcores model, the medical sphere, meaning the academic side of medicine. The third sphere, the popular, it can be identified with the ways of the peddlers, of the women, or in a simplistic manner, and define it as containing all the domains not included in the other two spheres.

Keywords: Baʿalei Shem; causes for illness; doctors; ecclesiastical sphere; Gentilcores model; German Jews; medical sphere; patients; treatments; writings



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