, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 339-383

The effectiveness of words: Religion and healing among the Lubavitch of Stamford Hill

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Abstract

Testimonials of miraculous healing offered by Lubavitch Hasidim evoke images of exile and restitution which derive from Kabbalistic texts. Mediated practically through the person of the Rebbe, these testimonials articulate both immediate affliction and ultimate meaning, physical embodiment as well as symbolic representation, each constituting the other. Both Kabbalah and medical anthropology attempt to transcend not dissimilar epistemological dualisms: those characteristic of monotheism and contemporary science. Yet the ‘lower root’ of Kabbalah affirms a material reality known through immediate sensory experience which recalls the rationale of biomedicine.