A Weary Child Grown Insolent: A Case Study of a Reworked Zoharic Story

Omri Shasha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The story explored in this essay represents an example of an integrated zoharic tale—that is, a series of kabbalistic homilies integrated into an organizing narrative frame. One of the interesting aspects of this genre is the interlacing of narrative and homily. There are zoharic stories in which the narrative layer serves as a frame story and nothing more, meaning there is no significant relationship between the story and the contents of the homilies delivered within it. In other cases, however, a connection between narrative and homiletical layers is forged through the linguistic and thematic affinities between the two textual strata. Only in a handful of cases are these affinities profound and comprehensive, sometimes fundamentally constructing the meaning of the text and constituting an indispensable key for understanding it. This article analyzes a single zoharic story that exists in two variant-versions. Uncovering the relationship between the story’s two versions offers a rare glimpse into the editing and reworking of a zoharic text. We see how the story was transformed from a relatively short and simple narrative into a story rich in literary sophistication and thematic complexity, along with profound connections between narrative and homiletical layers. Studying these processes sheds further light on the literary mechanics of zoharic stories as well as the character of their textual development, yielding, among other things, insights into the composition and editing techniques of the zoharic authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-88
Number of pages29
JournalJewish Quarterly Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies


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