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As Light Before DawnThe Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist$
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Eitan P. Fishbane

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804759137

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804759137.001.0001

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Contemplation, Theurgical Action, and the Presence of God

Contemplation, Theurgical Action, and the Presence of God

(p.125) Six Contemplation, Theurgical Action, and the Presence of God
As Light Before Dawn
Stanford University Press

Central to Isaac ben Samuel of Akko's writings, and one of the main defining components of medieval Kabbalah, is theurgy—the power of human action and intention to affect the divine realm. Isaac's approach to the contemplative life is founded on the framework of prayer and other related paradigms of devotion. Kabbalistic approaches to the liturgy and the event of prayer were an integral feature of early Kabbalah, from Jacob the Nazirite and Abraham ben David to Judah ben Yaqar, Joseph Gikatilla, and Menahem Recanati. The term kavvanah (intention) serves as an orienting rhetorical axis to understand the complex dynamics of contemplation—as well as its theurgical underpinnings. This chapter explores contemplation, theurgical action, and the presence of God in the writings of Isaac ben Samuel of Akko. It analyzes the dialectic between separation and unification within divine reality, the capacity of human action to augment existing divine energy and vitality, and the place of theurgical empowerment in Isaac's 'Ozar Hayyim.

Keywords:   Isaac ben Samuel of Akko, Kabbalah, theurgy, kavvanah, intention, human action, prayer, 'Ozar Hayyim, God, contemplation

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