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Shaul Magid is a student of Kabbala, Hasidism, and modern Jewish thought and teaches at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is presently writing on Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav, Hasidic thought in nineteenth-century Poland and theories of reading scriptures in Lurianic Kabbala.

 

Abstract of paper given at Judaism and Ecology conference:
Nature and Disability: The Natural World in Nahman of Bratzlav's "Tale of the Seven Beggars"

This essay is an attempt to see the ways in which R. Nahman of Bratzlav's attitude toward nature and the natural world in his homiletic discourses inform his thoughts about human imperfection (disability). It also addresses the question of heresy and human sadness, viewing exile as a life without the recognition of God's constant presence, resulting in a perpetual state of deficiency and sadness. Nature is thus the root of exile. Nature is also viewed as both fate and heresy, a vision of the world independent of God's influx and thus outside the realm of human influence. The beggars, all of whom appear disabled, prove that their disability results from their unwillingness to acknowledge such heresy. Imperfection (disability) is the way which perfection manifests itself in an imperfect world.

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