THE RISE AND FALL OF ‘PURITY CULTURE’ IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL: A HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE

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Abstract

This article aims at determining the turning point in the adherence to the Jewish laws of purity in the Land of Israel, considering the situation before ‘the outburst of purity,’ its decline and final cessation. Four different stages were distinguished regarding the practice of purification: (1) prior to the appearance of the ritual bath (miqweh), before the Hasmonean Kingdom; (2) the period of ‘purity culture,’ when purity was widespread, becoming a central religious phenomenon; (3) individual purity; (4) the final decline of purity. Once the ‘purification water’ became unavailable, halakhic immersion was observed only by women, while symbolic purification continued in Hasidic communities, albeit without a formal halakhic status. This article further discusses the impact of the struggles between the different religious-social groups on the distribution of purity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-157
Number of pages43
JournalAtiqot
Volume113
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Israel Antiquities Authority. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Purity
  • Rabbis
  • miqweh
  • priests
  • sages
  • sects
  • social development

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