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Maggid

MAGGID

MAGGID (Heb. מַגִּיד; pl. maggidim), literally "one who relates" (cf. II Sam. 15:13). The term, however, has two special connotations in later Hebrew: a) a popular – and often itinerant – preacher, and b) an angel or supermundane spirit which conveys teachings to scholars worthy of such communication in mysterious ways.

The Maggid as Preacher

Itinerant preachers appear in Jewish history long before the emergence of the specific term. Descriptions of the life and social standing of some tannaim and amoraim depict them as leading the lives of itinerant preachers. During the geonic period, however, there is no record of them and it is not until the 11th century that one finds mention of them. Tales about some of the *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz show them as begging itinerant preachers. The tradition of the itinerant maggid developed during the late Middle Ages. The 14th-century anonymous author of the Sefer ha-Kaneh and Ha-Peli'ah sets much of his bitter social and moral criticism in the context of his experiences while wandering and preaching in various communities. In the second half of the 16th century *Ephraim Solomon b. Aaron Luntschitz was a typical, if much respected and influential, itinerant maggid. He relates that "in my later years, yielding to the importunities of prominent men, I preached in Lublin, especially during the great fairs, where Jewish leaders as well as large masses of the people gathered. There I used to express myself quite freely covering the shortcomings of the rabbis as well as of the laity, undeterred by any consideration or fear. This boldness, naturally enough, created for me numerous enemies who heaped slander upon my name and otherwise persecuted me… Of course, I could well have avoided all this wrath and uproar had I been willing to be more restrained in my utterances, or were I more chary of my personal honor. But I had long resolved to put the honor of God above my own" (Ammudei Shesh (Prague, 1617), introduction). In this, as in many other passages, Luntschitz shows his strength of character and the troubles that beset a courageous itinerant preacher, attuned to the mood and spiritual needs of his public but fearless in criticizing them. Use of the parable (mashal) is already much in evidence in his writings, which also show a conscious effort to stimulate his public and impress them through a show of wit and learning. All these traits were common from the 18th century on when the name maggid came into regular use to denote both an itinerant and non-itinerant preacher. There are records of salaried maggidim appointed by the community. Some historians have ascribed a considerable part in the social and religious upheavals of the end of the 17th and during the 18th centuries to the influence of itinerant maggidim, who, they consider, functioned as a kind of "non-establishment intelligentsia," having much of the learning and influence of the regular scholars but largely without their connections in the upper strata of Jewish society. They have thus attributed the rise and early success of *Ḥasidism to the influence of such maggidim, pointing out that several of the early ḥasidic leaders were called maggid or the synonym for maggid, mokhi'aḥ ("morals preacher"), such as *Dov Baer of Mezhirech or *Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye. Others, however, note that even the most radical of the 18th-century maggidim, *Berechiah (Berakh) b. Eliakim Getzel the Younger, considered himself, despite his outspoken social criticism, to be allied by the nature of his office to that of the communal rabbi. They show also that much of the anti-ḥasidic propaganda was conducted by maggidim, chief among them being Jacob *Kranz "the Maggid of Dubno," an admiring pupil of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna, who expressly followed the advice of the Gaon on the method of preaching. Kranz, who was celebrated for his parables, exemplifies the type of maggidim who were associated with the *Mitnagged leadership in Lithuanian Jewry. Lithuania and the Mitnagged culture remained throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries the field of activity of the maggidim. Sometimes the office of maggid was combined with that of dayyan, hence the modern titles, mostly in Eastern Europe, of maggid meisharim u-moreh zedek (the maggid of uprightness (cf. Is. 45: 19) and teacher of righteousness, the latter being a synonym for a dayyan). Sometimes the maggid was appointed to a town, with the official title of maggid de-mata, in Yiddish Shtotmagid. Vilna had a Shtotmagid, usually a respected and outstanding scholar, until recent times. Men like Ezekiel b. Isaac ha-Levi *Landau, the Shtotmagid of Vilna; the great itinerant maggid*Moses Isaac Darshan, the "Kelmer Maggid"; or the maggid suspected of Haskalah leanings, Ẓevi Hirsch b. Ze'ev Wolf *Dainow, the "Slutzker Maggid," continued a tradition of preaching expressly intended for the masses, which contained much social criticism but also provided social guidance. Their preaching was also characterized by the mournful sing-song intonation of their delivery (see also *Musar movement). Their direct successors were the "Zionist maggidim" like Z. *Maccoby the "Kamenitzer Maggid," and Ẓevi Hirsch *Masliansky. Many of the meshullaḥim (*Sheluhei Ereẓ Israel) for the yeshivot and Erez Israel actually filled the function of maggidim. Wherever Mitnagged communities were established in other countries, maggidim accompanied the immigrants. In modern Ereẓ Israel, Ben Zion Yadler and Benzion *Alfes were in the tradition of the great maggidim. A few maggidim are still active in the State of Israel and the United States (see also *Darshan; *Preaching).

[Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson]

In Kabbalah

The angel or heavenly force called the maggid passes secrets to a kabbalist, when he is asleep or awake, speaks words from his mouth, or dictates to him when he is writing. This revelation is one of the outstanding phenomena in Kabbalah in the 16th to 18th centuries. Throughout the history of Kabbalah, kabbalists relied on heavenly inspirations, the revelations of Elijah, *Metatron, and other angels, or even on heavenly forces such as the Holy Spirit, in addition to questions in dreams and magical means of communication with heavenly forces. An early stage of this phenomenon may be seen in the questioning in dreams practiced before the formation of the Kabbalah, and even regarding the problems of Kabbalah, e.g., by Jacob of Marvège (Provence), author of She'elot u-Teshuvot min ha-Shamayim (commentary by R. Margulies, Lvov, 1929). The maggid of the 16th to 18th centuries is simply another version of the previous occurrence, though at times the phenomenon seems, in particular cases, to have personal psychological roots.

The image of the maggid who reveals heavenly secrets was apparently first crystallized in the circle of Joseph *Taitaẓak, who lived at the time of the Spanish expulsion and whose circle included many of the great kabbalists and preachers of Safed. The revelations of Taitaẓak (or those attributed to him) were written prior to the expulsion and were presented as coming from God Himself. In the Safed literature, the main expositions of the essence of the maggid are found in the writings of Moses *Cordovero and Ḥayyim *Vital. In this circle the most outstanding phenomenon was the appearance of themaggid of Joseph *Caro. Recording the words of the maggid, Caro wrote Sefer ha-Maggid, of which only a fragment has survived, called by the printers Maggid Meisharim. The major statements of Caro's maggid were sermons interpreting the secrets of the Kabbalah and biblical commentary, but many of his pronouncements have a personal and practical meaning. The maggid guided Caro in his wanderings in Turkey and directed him to immigrate to Ereẓ Israel. He stimulated Caro to write his halakhic works and to behave morally, promising him achievements in halakhah and in his personal life, toward attaining his great dream – martyrdom, like Solomon *Molcho. Caro's maggid was the Shekhinah ("Divine Presence"), the tenth Sefirah in the kabbalistic system, which took on the form of the Mishnah, the Oral Law. To bring about the appearance of the maggid, Caro would study mishnayot. The maggid spoke to him while he was awake, often just as he awoke. Scholars have not reached a conclusion concerning the psychological nature of this revelation, but it is clear that it did not affect the relation of Caro's personality to reality; it was one aspect of his personality which neither contradicted nor harmed the whole.

The Shabbatean movement gave great impetus to appearances of maggidim and many revealed secrets to the Shabbateans. The revelations of a maggid to Isaac Ḥurgeon, an associate of *Shabbetai Ḥevi in Adrianople in 1668 who confirmed the latter as Messiah and defended his apostasy, have been published (R. Schatz, in: Sefunot, 12). There also exists particularly detailed information on the appearance of a maggid in the house of study of Abraham *Rovigo, leader of a Shabbatean circle in Modena, Italy, from 1675 to 1691. The first maggid to appear in his house of study was that of Baer Perlhefter whose revelation had a great impact on him. Many letters of Meir Rofe who directs his questions to the maggid, and their answers, are in existence. The central question discussed in the revelations concerns the reason for Shabbetai Ḥevi's death and a prediction of his return in a year's time. Apparently, a maggid was later revealed to Rovigo himself. The most detailed revelations in this house of study have been transmitted by Mordecai Ashkenazi, a pupil of Rovigo's from Zolkiew who was neither a scholar of Torah nor of esoteric matters but who astounded Rovigo with his Shabbatean revelation. Ashkenazi's notebook and other documents relating the revelations of his maggid have survived. This maggid always revealed himself in a dream; at first only his voice was heard and afterward his form was seen. Scholem has suggested that this was a projection of the image of Rovigo, Ashkenazi's teacher. His revelations include Shabbatean theories, and together with them private advice, mostly on routine matters and on Ashkenazi's education and studies. Apparently they even included criticism of the former maggid, that of Baer Perlhefter, based on suspicions of Perlhefter's sins toward the end of his life, whose nature is not clear. Ashkenazi's maggid – like Caro's – encouraged his master and teacher to immigrate to Ereẓ Israel andgave him practical advice on ways of realizing this aim, whose background was Shabbatean messianism.

A lengthy and stormy dispute was caused by a maggid who revealed himself to Moses Ḥayyim *Luzzatto in Italy in 1727. The maggid dictated to Luzzatto, in the language of the Zohar, Razin Genizin, Tikkunim Ḥadashim, and other works, which were meant to become a second Zohar (Zohar Tinyana). The maggidim of Ashkenazi and Caro also spoke the language of the Targum, i.e., Aramaic. The record of the first revelation of Luzzatto's maggid, who appeared on Wednesday, Rosh Ḥodesh (the New Moon of) Sivan 1727, still exists. This maggid was a voice without an image who spoke to the recipient while he was awake and not in a dream, and alone. This angered Moses *Ḥagiz and others, because they thought that the young Luzzatto was not worthy of such a heavenly revelation and also because they suspected the Shabbatean character of the revelations.

The nature of the phenomenon apparently must be examined in the general context of kabbalistic mysticism, which consistently seeks heavenly confirmation for the secrets revealed to the kabbalist. At different times, various forms were given to these confirmations – some by pseudepigraphy and some by a divine revelation. In general, it appears that there was no fraudulent basis to these revelations, that their source lay in the kabbalist's complete conviction of the hidden heavenly truth in the secrets revealed to him, and that his testimony that he heard them from a divine source is honest. In addition, it seems that the maggid is also connected with the parapsychological phenomenon of the materialization of part of the kabbalist's soul which, acquiring an independent form, disassociates itself from the rest of his person and, confronting him objectively as it were, speaks to him.

[Joseph Dan]

bibliography:

Baron, Community, index; I. Bettan, Studies in Jewish Preaching (1939), 273–315; B.Z. Dinur, Be-Mifneh ha-Dorot (1955), 97–100, 133–6; J. Katz, Massoret u-Mashber (1958), index; H.H. Ben-Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), 34–54, 254–6; idem, in: Zion, 31 (1966), 68–69, 200–3. in kabbalah: G. Scholem, Halomotav shel ha-Shabbetai, R. Mordecai Ashkenazi (1938); R.J.Z. Werblowsky, in: Tarbiz, 27 (1958), 310–21; idem, Joseph Karo, Lawyer and Mystic (1962); M. Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 5 (1961), 299–336; I. Tishby, Netivei Emunah u-Minut (1964), 81–107; G. Scholem, in: Sefunot, 11 (1970), 67–112. Add. Bibliography: Z. Schechter, in: Meẓkarim be-Toledot Am Yisrael ve-Ereẓ Yisrael (1980), 219–30.

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