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Musar Literature: A Proposal For A Historical Reading

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Chapter Summary

The traditional title of the discipline, "Musar literature," has not changed either, and remains as it had been when formulated by its medieval creators. Yosef Dan's criticism should be somewhat toned down due to recent scholarly contributions illuminating various aspects of Musar literature, pointing out its significance to the understanding of Jewish culture and its contribution to the modernization process. The marginal status of the research of normative literature, public sermons, and advice literature could be partly ascribed to the focusing of scholarly interest in the canonical works of the fi eld. These works, written by prominent rabbis and mainly in Hebrew, addressed educated men versed in the Jewish literary tradition. The attempt to shape the behavior of the Jewish collective through association with models and with a cultural heritage turns Musar literature into an additional instance of the knowledge-power nexus of Michel Foucault.

Keywords: Hebrew; Jewish culture; Musar literature



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