Picture and story: On the use of visual imagery in the writing of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav

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Rabbi Nahman's philosophical and literary work has generated great interest among artists in various fields over the course of the last few decades, an interest of such degree and power that it has no equal in the traditional Jewish world. In this article, I will discuss one element of Rabbi Nahman's spiritual world that may explain to some degree the attraction of his work to painters and other artists who deal with visual arts, which is the important role of visions in his spiritual world and in his writings. I will also demonstrate how Rabbi Nahman uses the tools of visual imagery not only in his literary work but also in his philosophical work, as compiled in his two-volume book of sermons, Likutei Moharan (Collected Teachings of the Master), published in 1806 and 1811. I will then discuss the connection between the narrative and visual layers of Rabbi Nahman's work and worldview.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-17
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020


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