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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Mystical Input

Later mystics also played a part in the expansion of the biblical dimension in the rabbinic Siddur. The major impact was made by those of the city of Safed in the 16th century, but they had predecessors in North Africa, Spain, and Germany two and three centuries earlier, as well as successors in Eastern Europe several centuries later. The achievement of blissful communion with God required special levels of devotion and these could be reached by the recitation of special prayers and of biblical verses. These latter were often borrowed from the Psalms, but it was not always the actual content and simple sense that was being recalled. The number, the enunciation, and the special combination of certain letters was held to have a mystical effect and the belief was that the first letter of each verse recited could contribute to this effect. If, for example, verses from Lam. 3.56, Pss. 119, 106, 122, 162, 66, and 108 were recited before the sounding of the shofar, the relevant letters (krʿstn) made up a Hebrew phrase that invited a diminution of Satan's powers. Similar uses of verses were made as additions to prayers and in amulets to protect the living and to entreat for the souls of the dead.

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