Matters of the heart: The metamorphosis of the monolithic in the Bible to the fragmented in Rabbinic thought

Reuven Kiperwasser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In this chapter1 I discuss the concept of heart (lev בל) in rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism inherited the perception of the heart as the emotionaland mental center of the human-being from biblical Judaism, but the concept was significantly transformed. My aim is to understand better the perception of the body and the place of emotions in it according to talmudic culture. It is well-known that rabbinic culture constituted a phase in Judaism that was identical neither with biblical nor with medieval Jewish thought. However, the concepts and beliefs of the rabbis are very often understood as borrowed from the Bible, or anachronistically explained in light of medieval ideas. My object here is to read elements in rabbinic literature (in this case "the heart") as they are reflected independently in this culture.2 Methodologically, I will do this by showing that the rabbis read the body as a text,3 comprised of various biblical verses, interpreting its components as words and phrases, full of symbolic meaning. My conclusions will show the kind of cultural transformation that this reading reflects.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationJudaism and Emotion
Subtitle of host publicationTexts, Performance, Experience
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing Group
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781453910443
ISBN (Print)1433118726, 9781433118722
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York. All rights reserved.


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