Meet the Jewitches and Jewish ancestors of all genders who worked magic, loved magic, loathed magic and made some loopholes for things they insisted weren’t magic, but sound quite a lot like magic... Like it or lump it, magic has been part of Jewish tradition since the ancient world. Join Kohenet Yael to meet our witch-and-wizard ancestors and explore the winding road of contradictions and wisdoms of the Jewish relationship with magic.
Week 1: The Bible: Herb-Workers, Shamanesses and Mediums - Oh My!
The Bible says you shouldn’t suffer a witch to live… Or does it? Just who and what does the Bible prohibit? And why would a king who outlawed witches seek out a witch to ask for her help? Roll back everything you think you know about the infamous biblical prohibition against witchcraft and meet some of the earliest Ancient Israelite professional magic-workers.
Week 2: The Talmud, Part I: Rabbis vs. Witches - Who Would Win in a Fight?
The rabbis of the Talmud claim most women practise witchcraft and that the daughters of Israel are “unrestrained in sorcery.” It also claims that witchcraft is a capital crime. However, it turns out the rabbis themselves are pretty good wizards, and often end up in magical contests with witches and non-Jewish magic-workers! We’ll jump into tales of witchery in the Rabbinic period, and pick up a few spells on the way.
Week 3: The Talmud, Part II: Magic, Gender and Cucumbers - The Curious Case of Rabbi Eliezer
You can’t talk about magic in the Talmud without running into Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbinic magician extraordinaire. Eliezer was famous for planting and harvesting cucumbers by uttering a single word, as well as being excommunicated for attempting to prove legal points with magic. The multi-layered tale of Rabbi Eliezer embodies the complicated rabbinic attitudes towards magic and magicians, as well as the relationship between magic, gender and otherness.
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