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The Matter Of Others: Menstrual Blood And Uncontrolled Semen In Thirteenth-Century Kabbalists’ Polemic Against Christians, “Bad” Jews , And Muslims

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Chapter Summary

The impurities of Gentiles and errant Jews were regularly equated with seminal impurity and niddah (menstrual impurity or the menstruating woman herself) within certain kabbalistic texts. This chapter explores the nuances of gendered impurity in polemic against Christians, Muslims, and bad Jews in a variety of thirteenth-century Iberian kabbalists writings that span both the ecstatic and theosophic approaches. It focuses on Abraham Abulafia (1240c. post 1291), the primary exemplar of ecstatic kabbalah , the Zohar, a multi-layered Jewish mystical text of the thirteenth century that became the foundation for future theosophic kabbalistic works, and Joseph Gikatilla (1248c. 1305), who was strongly influenced by Abraham Abulafia but who became a major proponent of theosophic kabbalah. Abraham Abulafia used menstruation and biological imagery to define both Jesus position in the cosmic realm and to warn fellow Jews of the battle in which they needed to engage for their own souls.

Keywords: bad Jews; Abraham Abulafia; Christians; menstruation; Muslims; thirteenth-century Iberian kabbalists writings



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