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2 Jewish Enlightenment and the Kabbala Dispute

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents the influence of Haskala ideas on Yemen's Jewish community and provides an overall picture of the dispute which they incited. It discusses the background to the dispute and the ways in which each group presented the rival group as deviating from the "right" values, present the chronological unfolding of events, and describe the government's involvement in the dispute, as well as its social implications for the Jewish community. One of the Haskala ideas that Halevi brought with him to Yemen, was the adamant opposition to Kabbala literature. The Kabbala developed in the thirteenth century in southern France and in Spain, and its chief text was the Book of the Zohar. The intellectual ferment that took hold of the Sanʿa Jewish community was tied to a large degree to the personality of Rabbi Yahya Qafih.

Keywords: Haskala ideas; Kabbala dispute; Rabbi Yahya Qafih; Sanʿa Jewish community; Yemen's Jewish community



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