The Legend of Safed
Life and Fantasy in the City of Kabbalah
Divided into seven chapters, The Legend of Safed begins with an explanation of how the myth of Safed was founded on the general belief that during this "golden age" (1570–1620), Safed was an idyllic location in which complete peace and understanding existed between the diverse groups of people who migrated to the city. Yassif goes on to analyze thematic characteristics of the legends, including spatial elements, the function of dreams, mysticism, sexual sins, and omniscience. The book concludes with a discussion of the tension between fantasy (Safed is a sacred city built on morality, religious thought, and well-being for all) and reality (every person is full of weaknesses and flaws) and how that is the basis for understanding the vitality of Safed myth and its immense impact on the future of Jewish life and culture.
The Legend of Safed is intended for students, scholars, and general readers of medieval and early modern Jewish studies, Hebrew literature, and folklore.
About the Authors
"In this fascinating book Yassif paints a broad canvas of the inner lives of the heroes of Safed in its glorious days. Dreams of grandeur and tears of despair, spiritual visions and corporal ailments, messianic ambitions and mundane defeats are entwined in The Legend of Safed as they were in the souls and lives of its protagonists."—Yuval Harari, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
"In this important book, Eli Yassif, one of Israel's leading folklorists, demonstrates how the myth of Safed as the center of sixteenth-century Jewish mysticism was shaped by folktales written in the seventeenth century. These tales reveal a tension between everyday reality in Safed and mystical-messianic ideals. Yassif's book overturns many conventional understandings about Safed and will be of great interest to historians, literary critics, and folklorists."—David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor, Uc Davis
"Eli Yassif's Legends of Safed is a bold and successful attempt to read into the legends that formed the myth of Safed in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The psychosocial backdrop of Lurianic Kabbala and mysticism are carefully revealed as Yassif masterfully uncovers the multilayered legend texts and brings forth new dimensions of this time and place as it witnessed an astonishing religious awakening."—Ephraim Shoham-Shafer, Author of on the Margins of a Minority: Leprosy, Madness, and Disability Among the Jews of Medieval Europe (Wayne State University Press, 2014)
Other Titles by Eli Yassif
Other Titles by Haim Watzman
Other Titles from Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology
Other Titles in RELIGION / Judaism / Kabbalah & Mysticism