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The study by Nathanael Riemer focuses on the work Beer Sheva (Seven Wells) which was written in Yiddish by Rabbi Beer Shmuel Issachar and his wife Bella Perlhefter of Prague at the turn of the seventeenth to the eighteenth century. As a book of remembrance and consolation it was dedicated to the couple's seven deceased children.
Beer, who worked as a private teacher of Jewish literature to the polymath Johann Christoph Wagenseil, is known as an extraordinary Kabbalist. In the present research, wide-scattered documents are gathered for the first time to write a biography of the authors. The preserved manuscripts are compared and analyzed in terms of literary criticism and religious history: Beer Sheva is presented from the point of view of structure and context in order to determine its character and classification within Jewish literature. In the seven parts of Beer Sheva, Heaven, Purgatory, and Paradise are presented in a simple, visual language. The history of Israel from the creation of the world until the Babylonian Exile takes up a great part, and leads to detailed reflections on the Messiah and Israel's salvation. It concludes with specific instructions for repentance, discussions of the resurrection of the dead, and presumptions of the future world.
Beer Sheva is an impressive encyclopedia which assembles all important fields of knowledge of the Jewish culture while transporting moral ideas to the reader through entertaining stories. As one of the first Yiddish works, it makes longer Kabbalistic passages of the Zohar accessible to a non-academic audience by translating it into the cultural lingua franca of Ashkenazic Judaism.