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Document Details :

Title: The Jewish Piyut Shir haYihud
Subtitle: Biblical Intertextuality in Service of Spirituality
Author(s): VAN AALSUM, Lia
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 21    Date: 2011   
Pages: 67-93
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.21.0.2141946

Abstract :
Shir haYihud, the Song of Unity, is an intriguing poem from the Middle Ages. According to the general opinion it belongs to the genre of the piyutim (poetry), creative compositions that embellished the Jewish liturgy since the fifth century CE. Thorough research however has demonstrated that this is only an aspect of the whole picture, as can be found in the doctoral thesis of Lia van Aalsum. We are dealing with an anonymous author, who is, firstly, not only giving witness of his own spiritual longing, but who is, secondly, also providing a spiritual education to his listeners and readers. The biblical quotations play an important role in this process of teaching, learning and formation. This article is a presentation of the main findings and conclusions of the dissertation. After an overview of the most important elements of the context, the spiritual content of the song will be explored, and issues of intertextuality and hermeneutics as well. However, the main goal of this article is to give an impression of the impact of the intertextual network. It appears that the many biblical references are functioning in a special way. They offer a spiritual strategy, creating a spiritual education. This spiritual schooling is not only of cognitive significance, but also of mystagogical value. The development of knowledge and sensibility is focused on four interrelated topics: God; the human being; God and man in their dynamic relationship; the special value of the Name JHWH in this biblical and spiritual process of transformation.

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