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The Three Blessings: Boundaries, Censorship, and Identity in Jewish Liturgy

Yoel Kahn

Abstract

According to the Talmud (Menahot 43b), a Jewish man should give thanks each day “not having been made a gentile … a woman … nor a slave.” This study traces the history of this text in the Jewish Morning Blessings (Birkhot ha-shachar) across two thousand years of history. Marking the boundary between “us” and “them,” marginalized and persecuted groups used these lines to affirm their own identity and sense of purpose. After the medieval Church seized and burned books it considered offensive, new, coded formulations emerged as forms of spiritual resistance. Owners voluntarily carefully expurgate ... More

Keywords: She lo asani, Menachot 43b, Censorship, Jewish liturgy, Liturgical renewal, Self-identity, Birkhot ha-shachar, Morning Blessings

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780195373295
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373295.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Yoel Kahn, author
Congregation Beth El, Berkeley, California