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Kabbalah in a Literary Key: Mystical Motifs in Zechariah Aldāhirī's Sefer hamusar

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Zechariah Aldāhirī's maqāma collection, Sefer hamusar (Yemen, c. 1580), is a literary work modeled on the Arabic Maqāmāt of al-Harīrī and the Hebrew Tahkemoni of Alharizi. Although largely fictional in nature, the work offers intriguing evidence of the transmission of kabbalistic thought to Yemen in the sixteenth century. This paper argues that Aldāhirī exploited the text's lighthearted belletristic framework to bring kabbalistic theosophy, literature, and liturgical customs to the attention of a largely uninitiated public in Yemen. But Aldāhirī also conveys an ambivalence towards his project when he parodies the new taste for kabbalistic learning by embedding mystical ideas in complex narratives.

Affiliations: 1: The Ohio State University


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