The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
Liverpool University Press
Edited by Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Truth informs much of the self-understanding of religious believers. Accordingly, understanding what we mean by ‘truth’ is a key challenge to interreligious collaboration. The contributors to this volume, all leading scholars, consider what is meant by truth in classical and contemporary Jewish thought, and explore how making the notion of truth more nuanced can enable interfaith dialogue. Their essays take a range of approaches: some focus on philosophy proper, others on the intersection with the history of ideas, while others engage with the history of Jewish mysticism and thought. Together they open up the notion of truth in Jewish religious discourse and suggest ways in which upholding a notion of one’s religion as true may be reconciled with an appreciation of other faiths.
The enigmatic kabbalist Samuel Falk, known as the Ba’al Shem of London, has piqued the curiosity of scholars for generations. Eighteenth-century London was fascinated by Jews, and as a miracle-worker and adventurer, well connected and well read, Falk had much to offer. Interest in the man was further aroused by rumours of his dealings with European aristocrats and other famous characters, as well as with scholars, Freemasons, and Shabbateans, but evidence was scanty. Michal Oron has now brought together all the known source material on the man, and her detailed annotations of his diary and that of his assistant give us rich insights into his activities over several years. We learn of his meetings and his travels; his finances; his disputes, his dreams, and his remedies; and lists of his books. We see London’s social life and commerce, its landed gentry and its prisons, and what people ate, wore, and possessed. The burgeoning Jewish community of London and its religious practices, as well as its communal divisiveness, is depicted especially colourfully.