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Communio Liturgica: Die Schau der himmlischen Anbetung in hebräischer liturgischer Poesie des Mittelalters

Elisabeth Hollender

Pages 23 - 37

The contemplation of the topography of the heavenly sphere, visualized by the image of a royal court, is a recurrent motif in Jewish literature which can be found in biblical texts, apocalyptic as well as mystical literature of different historical periods. The article examines a particularly interesting example of a poetic adaptation of this mystical imagery: the medieval Ofanim, i.e. pieces of poetry inserted into the liturgy. The Ofanim depict a moment of intensified worship, where the synagogical community is supposed to join in with the heavenly adoration of the angels. While in their poetic imagery and style these texts allude to earlier traditions of Hekhalot literature and Merkava mysticism, they probably do not aim at creating a mystic union in the full sense of the term, but rather evoke a liturgical communion by which the members of the synagogue take part in the angels’ heavenly adoration.


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