'אלו ידעתיו הייתיו' - לגלגולו של פתגם

Translated title of the contribution: 'If I Knew Him I would be Him' – The Evolving of a Maxim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The article opens with an account of the radical use of the maxim 'If I knew Him I would be Him' in the teachings of R. Nahman of Braslav, while contrasting some of his ideas in the passage in which this maxim appears with those of Maimonides. The article goes on to explore the connection between knowledge and conjunction with God, as well as the immortality of the intellect, in a number of philosophic sources up to and including Maimonides, beginning with Plotinus. It then examines the use of this maxim – which apparently was translated from an Arabic collection of philosophic maxims – in medieval Jewish Hebrew sources, beginning with the late 13th century proven9al philosopher Levi ben Avraham and early 14th century philosopher Nissim of Marseilles. From there it turns to an analysis of the use of this maxim in the works of Spanish Jewish thinkers belonging to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries – R. Samuel Zarza, R. Nissim Gerondi, R. Joseph Albo, R. Zerahya Halevi Saladin, R. Isaac Arama and Don Isaac Abrabanel – and in the writings of the sixteenth century kabbalistic thinkers, the Maharal and R. Moshe Cordovero. With the exception of R. Nahman, all the thinkers who employed this maxim did so in order to show the impossibility of knowing God rather than the possibility of becoming one with Him. R. Nahman's radical usage, however, is not unique to him but appears also in the writings of some of the Habad masters.
Translated title of the contribution'If I Knew Him I would be Him' – The Evolving of a Maxim
Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)73-103
Number of pages31
Journalדעת: כתב-עת לפילוסופיה יהודית וקבלה
Volume74-75
StatePublished - 2013

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