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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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Asceticism, Prophecy, and Mystical Union

Asceticism, Prophecy, and Mystical Union

(p.248) Eight Asceticism, Prophecy, and Mystical Union
As Light Before Dawn
Stanford University Press

A recurring theme in Isaac ben Samuel of Akko's writing is his repeated emphasis on the need for the kabbalist to transcend the realm of physical sensation for the sake of mental attachment to the intellective dimensions of the spirit. Isaac argues that the extrapolation of muskalot meaning from murgashot perception was part and parcel of a necessary transcendence of corporeal sensation. The intellective dimensions ultimately give rise to disembodied contemplation—a mode of mystical perception in which physical sensation is replaced by an interior, spiritualized vision of Being. The lived spiritual practice of Isaac certainly involved intense forms of asceticism, and he probably conceived of devequt as a state that ought to be attained after one overcomes the inhibiting forces of passion and desire. By subduing and transforming the murgashot, it is possible to become attached to the muskalot. In order to reach the climax of the devotee's connection to Divinity, the contemplative act of training the mind on the divine muskalot is necessary.

Keywords:   Isaac ben Samuel of Akko, asceticism, physical sensation, muskalot, murgashot, contemplation, devequt, Divinity, mystical perception

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