Angels and Demons in Early Modern Musar Literature: A Big Data Analysis

Isaac Hershkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article studies three influential musar works from the early modern period: Reshit hokhma, Shevet musar, and Kav hayashar. The author reveals that Kav hayashar uses angelological terms with far greater intensity than the others. This phenomenon portrays a different understanding of moral behavior vis-à-vis the goals of repair and improvement. Kav hayashr’s approach identified a layer of almost technical activity in religious service: satisfying the memunim (appointed ones) and pacifying or deceiving the forces of destruction. He thus establishes more objective levels of religious service and neutralizes many of the mechanisms of Divine mercy and compassion. Accordingly, the expectations of the moral journey set very high standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-50
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Jewish Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Penn State University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Kav hayashar
  • angels
  • big data
  • demons
  • musar


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