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Mystical ResistanceUncovering the Zohar's Conversations with Christianity$
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Ellen D. Haskell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600433

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600433.001.0001

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Cleaving to the Other Side

Cleaving to the Other Side

Conversion to Christianity

(p.39) 2 Cleaving to the Other Side
Mystical Resistance

Ellen D. Haskell

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the sense of threat that permeated Spanish Jews’ lives, explaining how the Zohar deploys its rhetoric of the Other Side’s evil powers to defame Christians and those who associate with them. Using coded words normally applied to demonic forces, such as “Other,” “Other Side,” “Other God,” and “Kingdom of Idolatry,” the Zohar condemns Christian dominion, gives advice regarding Jewish behavior under Christian oppression, and imagines a future of Jewish empowerment. This rhetoric responds to Christian missionizing, the threat of religious conversion, and the damage to Jewish communities associated with prominent converts who traumatized the Jews of Spain and France during the thirteenth century, such as Paulus Christiani. The chapter also discusses anticonversion teachings that critique Christian celibacy, which the Zohar explains as a divine strategy for Christian containment.

Keywords:   Kabbalah, Zohar, medieval, missionizing, polemic, conversion, Jewish-Christian relations, Paulus Christiani, Other Side, celibacy

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