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HEBREW EPITAPHS FROM EASTERN EUROPE: CONNECTING THE SACRAL AND MUNDANE WORLDS
Seminar "Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism"
Department of Theology
Thursday Oct 17, 2013, 3:15-4:45PM Room Cudahy 114...
Dr. Nosonovsky will discuss Hebrew tombstone inscriptions from Western Ukraine (dated since 1520 until the early 20th century) collected during numerous field trips to the region in the 1990s. At different levels, the epitaphs connect the sacral world of the Hebrew holy books with the mundane world of everyday life in an East-European Jewish town or village. This is expressed by the choice of Hebrew as a language of the epitaphs, the frequent use of Biblical quotations and allusions, Hebrew/Yiddish orthography switching, and the intermediate position of the epitaphs between the "high" Rabbinic literature and "low" folk / popular culture. The speaker will discuss Kabbalistic concepts mentioned in the epitaphs, such as "Tzeror ha-Hayim" ("the Bundle of Life" = "The Throne of Glory" or the source of all human souls) and "Yeshiva shel Ma'ala" ("The Heavenly Court") as well as the role of epitaphs as a mystic evidence in the Heavenly Court. The author will argue that the main function of the epitaphs is not to be read by human readers, but to become a guarding angel providing mystic protection to the soul of the deceased and connecting him to the eternal and ideal world of Hebrew sacred texts.
Michael Nosonovsky is an assistant professor of engineering at UWM.
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