Fire Symbolism in Jewish Law and Ritual

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Dr. Fishbane explores the nature and importance of fire in Jewish rituals, and its roots in Jewish religious text.


"Rituals convey symbolic meanings. Rituals are not simply mechanical or rote procedures for the sake of religious traditions, but actions that carry messages that strengthen its collectivity.

This essay is designed to explicate the implicit message found in the Jewish contemporary rituals that involve fire. Prior to expounding on these rituals, I will discuss the phenomenon of fire in history and religion, fire in Biblical and Jewish thought, the concept of symbols and symbolism and the theoretical model to analyze the rituals in which fire is the central prop."
From the Intent

Table of Contents


The Phenomenon of Fire

Accounts of Fire in the Torah

The Theoretical Framework

Contemporary Jewish Fire Rituals

I. Sabbath Candles
Prayers and Charity at the Time of Candle Lighting
Accepting the Start of the Sabbath when Kindling the Lamps
II. The Saturday Night Havdalah Ritua

The Laws of Ner Havdalah
III. Fingernails and Palm of the Hand

Concluding Remarks

Appendix: The Yahrzeit Light

Rabbis Cited in this Work


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