VSI – Jewish Literature

Book Cover - Jewish LiteratureA Very Short Introduction: Jewish Literature by IIan Stavans
The story of Jewish literature spans the globe as well as the centuries, from the marrano poets and memorialists of medieval Spain, to the sprawling Yiddish writing in Ashkenaz (the “Pale of Settlement’ in Eastern Europe), to the probing narratives of Jewish immigrants to the United States and other parts of the New World. It also examines the accounts of horror during the Holocaust, the work of Israeli authors since the creation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the “ingathering” of Jewish works in Brazil, Bulgaria, Argentina, and South Africa at the end of the twentieth century. This kaleidoscopic introduction to Jewish literature presents its subject matter as constantly changing and adapting.

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Baal Shem Tov – Master of the Good Name

Israel Ben Eliezer, later known as The Baal Shem Tov (The Master of the Divine Name, var. Master of the Good Name), was born on August 27, 1698 to Rabbi Eliezer and his wife Sarah. They lived in the small village Okup on the Russian-Polish border. Both Rabbi Eliezer and Sarah were already very old when their first child, Israel was born.

Baal Shem means “Possessor or Master of The (Divine) Name”, which contemporaries and subsequent followers conferred upon him. Martin Buber (in Tales of the Hasidim) explained more kindly: ‘One who lives with and for this fellow-men on the foundation of his relationship with the Divine’.

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