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The Extra-Debatal Literature Of Candia And Questions Of Identity

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Chapter Summary

Much of the debate between Balbo and Ashkenazi hinges upon questions of identity, both national and personal. Unaware of Balbo's kabbalistic reading of the flood story and his linkage of it to the account of Judah and his sons, Ashkenazi turns to the story as the first of his "evidences" against metempsychosis. Balbo's speculation into the nature of the beneficiaries of metempsychosis leads the discussion into the question of identity. Among the nations, gilgul applies only to Israel, who took upon itself the yoke of Torah in order to purify itself from the filth of the serpent that resulted from the act of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. The divide attested to by the responses of the Ashkenazi rabbis of Mestre and by the Sephardi rabbi Yosef ben Gedaliah of Jerusalem is the divide that Ashkenazi took upon himself to dispute with Balbo in the small community of Candia.

Keywords: Ashkenazi; Balbo; Candia; extra-debatal literature; gilgul; question of identity; Sephardi rabbi Yosef ben Gedaliah; story of Judah; Tree of Knowledge; yoke of Torah



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