‘Carnal Israel and the Primacy of Touch’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 69, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268


The chasm between body and spirit coupled with an undervaluation of the body is often attributed to the Biblical heritage. However, the kabbalistic tract The Holy Letter (13th century) argues that the Greeks are to blame for this tendency, notably Aristotle. The Letter defends the touch as the most important of all the senses, against Aristotle (the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who follows Aristotle in this regard) who considers the touch the most animal-like sense. This is precisely the reason why, according to the author of the Holy Letter, touch is the eminent way to sanctify life, e.g. in the act of sexuality. By degrading touch one denigrates creation as willed by God.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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