Uniqueness, Incarnation, and Sacred Language (Lashon ha-Kodesh) in Nahman of Bratslav’s Self-Fashioning
This chapter focuses on one early Hasidic master, Nahman of Bratslav, and explores his theory of “the holy tongue” (lashon ha-kodesh) as the language of the zaddik who uses language as a tool of creation. The chapter argues that Nahman views himself not only as a messianic figure but as a divine being who has overcome his humanity and is thus able to perfect the Holy Tongue that was tainted in Adam’s sin. This is a particularly stark example of incarnational thinking in Hasidism. Nahman views himself as the one who can reach beyond revelation and back to the place of rectifying original sin precisely because he is more divine than human and thus does not succumb to the sinful nature of humanity who can embody the Holy Tongue only as targum/translation, a proximate substitute. This is, I argue, a Jewish instantiation of a divine incarnate being.
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