Prof. Vadim Putzu - April - June 2022

During my stay at the HCMH, I intend to conduct research on primary sources of 13th- to 17th-century Kabbalah dealing with wine. In particular, as I am preparing a book manuscript on the symbolic and instrumental uses of wine in medieval and early modern Jewish mysticism and magic, I plan to analyze the works of students of Safedian Kabbalah who moved across the Mediterranean, from the Iberian and Italian peninsulas to Israel and back, and to benefit from having immediate access to the most up-to-date scholarship on them.

My findings will be integrated into my book manuscript, which already examines the ways in which medieval classic works of Spanish Kabbalah, such as the Sefer ha-Zohar, and 16th-century renowned Safedian kabbalists, such as Moshe Cordovero and Hayyim Vital, attributed specific symbolic values to wine and employed this beverage as a component of mystical and magico-medical practices. This additional research should ultimately allow me to sketch, in what will be the very first full-blown monograph on wine and Kabbalah to appear in any language, a more comprehensive yet precise and nuanced picture of the various roles that this beverage played in the practices and speculations of medieval and early modern kabbalists.