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Roads to UtopiaThe Walking Stories of the Zohar$
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David Greenstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804788335

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804788335.001.0001

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Walking with God

Walking with God

(p.27) Chapter 2 Walking with God
Roads to Utopia

David Greenstein

Stanford University Press

There are more walking stories in the guf ha-zohar (main body of the Zohar) than in all of classical Rabbinic literature combined. Classical commentators such as Shim`on ibn Lavi have connected the walking motif to mystical Torah study and its theurgical effect of union with Shekhinah. Rabbi Moshe Cordovero termed the practice of walking “gerushin” and saw it as a way to console the exiled Shekhinah, whom he also called “sh’mirat ha-derekh--the safeguarding of the road.” Close readings of these texts show that the traditional explanations are inaccurate or inadequate. Rather, through humor and irony the Zohar keeps hinting that the mystical quest does not have a complete monopoly on the lives of Rashbi and Companions, such as Rabbi Yose, who, in their walking fellowship, experience the realm of the mundane in horizontal space.

Keywords:   guf ha-zohar, theurgy, gerushin, exile, Ibn Lavi, Cordovero, sh’mirat ha-derekh, humor, Rabbi Yose, fellowship

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