Mutual responsibility in Kabbalistic thought - ethics, theology and gender

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This article explores the evolution of the concept of 'mutual responsibility' from the biblical and Talmudic eras to medieval Kabbalistic literature, and to analyse the notion of arvut and its implications through the prism of gender. I suggest that whereas in the Bible and in rabbinic literature the 'negative' aspect of mutual responsibility was emphasized, with a focus on one's obligation to take responsibility for another's sins or for his soul, in Kabbalistic literature metaphysical and 'positive' aspects of mutual responsibility were developed. I discuss the connection between arvut and the doctrine of gilgul, and other practices such as the Pilgrimage Festival, which illustrates the metaphysical idea of responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-115
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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