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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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The Body Wishes to Walk

The Body Wishes to Walk

(p.106) Chapter 4 The Body Wishes to Walk
Roads to Utopia

David Greenstein

Stanford University Press

While the Zohar acknowledges the metaphorical meanings of walking, it also portrays walking in its silent, primal form--as freedom of movement through space, unburdened with prior significances. It developed this image in historical and geographic contexts that both challenged and influenced it. This was a time of pilgrimage and Crusades, movements of people whose diverse and often mundane motivations were subsumed under religious goals. Jewish space was limited and enclosed, and mobility was restricted and risky. The walking motif imagines a liberation from such constrictions. In de Certeau's phrase, it is a “tactic” that breaks through officially constructed spaces to discover new spaces. This also applies to the Jewish religious and intellectual panopticon represented by the beit midrash (house of study). The Zohar presents its teachings as orally transmitted and situates them outside any “absolute space” (Lefebvre's term), as free expressions of embodied individuals.

Keywords:   de Certeau, Lefebvre, pilgrimage, Crusades, panopticon, beit midrash, tactic, absolute space, freedom, silence

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