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Notes. Chapter Xvi

"Jewish Magic and Superstition", by Joshua Trachtenberg, [1939],

Chapter Xvi


Thorndike, Ii, 973, Iv, 317; Maimonides, "Mishneh Torah", "Akkum", 11, 8; "Nishmat ayim", Iii, 21; Moses of Tachau lent his support to this Maimonidean position in his anti-Maimonidean polemic ("Oar Nemad", Iii, 82), and severely criticized "those men to whom the spirit of "Torah" is foreign, who busy themselves with astrology and believe in it and make it their creed, and thereby bring harm to others." See "JE", II, 243 ff. and "EJ", Iii, 578 ff., for a general survey of the rabbinic material. The use of the word "mazal", "star, constellation," to signify "luck" may be seen in the Talmud; in the Middle Ages it was more frequent. "We call good fortune, good "mazal", and the reverse, bad "mazal"... in German it is "Glck" and in Italian "ventura" (Levita, "Tishbi", s. v. "mazal"). This usage of the word did not displace its astrological sense in the vernacular until modern times.

The literature is too extensive to be cited in full. See D. Feuchtwang, "Der Tierkreis in der Tradition und im Synagogenritus, MGWJ", Lix (1915), 241-67; L. Lw, "Gesammelte Schriften", Ii, 115-31; \"JE", Ii, 241-5; A. Marx, "The Correspondence between the Rabbis of Southern France and Maimonides about Astrology, HUCA", Iii (1926), 311-58; \"A. Z." Schwarz, "Iggeret R.

p. 312

[paragraph continues] Abraham b. iya HaNassi,
" Ad. Schwarz Festschrift, Berlin 1917, 23 ff. (Hebrew section); "Beraita de Mazalot, Oar Midrashim", ed. S. A. Wertheimer, Jerusalem 1913, pp. 1-7 (Introd.) and 1-28 (from which "Raziel" seems to have borrowed extensively); Abraham b. Hiya HaNassi, "Megillat HaMegaleh", ed. Julius Guttman, Berlin 1924; Raphael Levy, "The Astrological Works of Abraham ibn Ezra", Paris 1927; Bischoff, 124 ff.; see also pp. 69 f., 208 above. Some of the more important references are: "Shab." 156a-b and Rashi, M.K. 28a; "Teshubot HaGeonim" (ed. Harkavy) 206 ff.; "S. as." 989, 1447, 1453, 1516; Eleazar of Worms, "Commentary on S. Yeirah", 14e; "Niaon", 145; "Haayim", I, 3, Iii, 6, Iv, 10; Isserles, "Yore Deah", 179:2; "Nemad veNaim", 298, 303, which enumerates the cities and countries governed by each Zodiacal sign. See also Thorndike I, 306, 353 f., Ii, 6, 42, 183, etc. According to one view, God "appointed" a star for each man before even the earth was created; "Raziel", 21a; Eleazar of Worms, op. cit., 1b; Kammelhar, 41. As was pointed out in the chapter on angelology, the stars were personalized by associating angels with them, so that each planet had its own archangel, and each man "an angel of his star." See the references there cited, and also Rashi, "Meg." 3a; "ochmat HaNefesh", 8e, 16d; "Paanea Raza" on Ex. 13:3, p. 73b; Yom Tob Mhlhausen, HaEshkol (ed. Judah Kaufman), 145.

Cf. Ginzberg, "Legends", V, 164; \"Raziel", 17b, 34b; Eleazar of Worms, Commentary on "Sefer Yeirah", 12a; Montgomery, 97-8; Thorndike, Ii, 900.

Eleazar of Worms, loc. cit.

\"Suk." 29a; "S. as. B" 1148, 66;--Neubauer and Stern, 65, 76; Kammelhar, 14;--Thorndike, IV, 413 f.; "Leket Yosher", Ii, 17-18; Gd. Iii, 128-9; cf. "Nemad veNaim", 295, 297.

\"Raziel", 17b ff., 34b, 41b; "S. as." 1549; Eleazar of Worms, op. cit., 8d ff., 20c ff.; "ochmat HaNefesh", 17b; "Rokea", 353; "Haayim", V, 6; "Iggeret HaTiyul", 8a, 9a-b; "Or adash", 15; Grunwald, "MJV", Xix (1906), 109-10; Gd. I, 154; Thorndike, I, 113, 679, Ii, 582 ff., etc.; Wuttke, 58 ff.; cf. "Nemad veNaim", 8, 98, 107, 301.

Ibid., 299; Rashi, "Shab." 75a; "Raziel", 20a-b; ms. "S. Gematriaot", 84a; Eleazar of Worms, Commentary, 12a; "MGJV", Viii (1901), 114; ms. "S. Gematriaot", 84b; cf. Wuttke, 63; Grnbaum, "Ges. Auf.", 227; Thorndike, Iii, 103 ff.

\"Shab." 129b and Rashi;--"Kol Bo" 58; "Tashbe", 554; "Responsa" of Jacob Weil, 74b; Tyrnau, "Minhagim", 28a; "Mateh Moshe", 965; "Joseph Ome", 739, p. 165; "Lebush" on "Yore Deah", 116:5;--\"Rabiah", I, 348-9; \"Raben", 371; "Ber Heteb" on "Yore Deah" 116:6;--"Yore Deah" 179:2 and the comment of "Lebush"; Joseph Omer, 349; Eleazar of Worms, "Commentary", 21d; a 16th century ms. (N. Brll, "Jahrbcher", Ix [1889], 5) accounts for the prejudice against beginning undertakings on Monday and Wednesday on the ground that "bed" (the two Hebrew consonants which designate these days) in Persian signifies "bad," but this explanation is far-fetched; cf. Ginzberg, "Legends", V, 39, n. 209. Parallels to this Monday-Wednesday superstition may be found in German belief (see Berliner, "Aus dem Leben", 90-1): "Montags Anfang hat keinen guten Fortgang"; "Was man Montags beginnt wird nicht Wochenalt"; Grimm, Iii, 463, 821; see also Thorndike, I, 672 ff.; Grim, II, 953 ff.; Wuttke, 88; Steinschneider, "Ueber die Volkslitteratur", 15-16.

Landsberger, "Der Brauch in den Tagen zwischen dem Pessach- und Schabuothfeste sich der Eheschliesung zu enthalten, Jd. Ztschr. f. Wiss. u. Leben", VII (Breslau 1869), 81-96; I. Lvi, "Le mariage en Mai, Mlusine", Vii (1895), 105 ff., Viii (,8g6), 93 f.; Abrahams, "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages", 184; Gd. I, 276, n. 1;--"Rokea", 355; Tyrnau, "Minhagim", 14b; "Mateh Moshe", 686-8; "Ora ayim" 493:1-4; \"Leket Yosher", I, 97-8.

p. 313

\"ochmat HaNefesh", 6b; "Commentary on S. Yeirah", 9b;--"Yore Deah" 179:2; Isserles, "Eben HaEzer", 64:3; "Joseph Ome", 349; "Emek Beracha", II, 52, p. 62a;--"S. as. B" 59; Semak, 136; Grnbaum, "Jdischdeutsche Chrest.", 260; "Joseph Ome", 348;--"Testament of Judah", 56, 57; \"Ber Heteb" on "Ora ayim" 260: 1; cf. Abrahams, op. cit., 185; Berliner, op. cit., 91; Digot, Iii, 184; Grimm, Ii, 595; Wuttke, 57-8.

\"JE", Ix, 244; \"Emek Beracha", II, 6z, p. 75b; cf. Wuttke, 14: "Wenn man dem Vollmonde drei Verbeugungen macht, bekommt man etwas geschenkt"; "Kiur Shelah", 136; "JE", Xii, 6,8; Lipez, 130 (cf. "S. as. B" 97); "Taame HaMinhagim", I, 55a, 432; Thorndike, Iv, 282.

See Aptowitzer, "Issur Shetiat Mayim Bshat HaTekufah, Haofeh", Ii (1912), 122-6 and Ginzberg, "Arba Tekufot," ibid., Iii (,913), 184-6, for a survey of the Jewish material; "Teshubot HaGeonim" (ed. Musafia) 14; Joel, Ii, 24-5; \"HaManhig", "Hil. Seudah", 18; cf. Wuttke, 63 f., 78 f., 301, also 85: "Am Georgi-Tage, 23 Apr., soll niemand Brunnenwasser trinken, dann ffnet sich die Erde und lsst ihr Gift aus"; Grimm, Ii, 590, Iii, 454: \"Bei Sonnenfinsterniss decke man alle Brunnen, das Wasser wird sonst giftig." Grnbaum, op. cit., 144, mentions a Coptic belief that on Midsummer Day or near it, the archangel Michael discharges a drop into the Nile which makes its water undrinkable. There is also a remark that during Nisan (the month in which the Spring Equinox occurs) a poisonous, jelly-like substance falls on vegetation ("HaPardes", 23a).

Ginzberg, "Legends", Vi, 204, n. 109; Perles, "Etym. Studien", 73; Grunwald, "MGJV", V (1900), 84 ff.; "JJV", I (1923), 217; Schudt, Ii, 29:13, p. 10b; Gd. I, 206; Wuttke, 104. In Northern Italy the peasants went out into the fields on Midsummer Day to seek "the oil of St. John," which had wonderful properties, on oak leaves. Brck, 45 ff., suggests that the Jewish belief may be connected with the Phoenician Adonis rites, celebrated during the midsummer season at a river near the Syrian Byblos, when the river ran red with the blood of the dying god.

Aptowitzer, op. cit., 122, 126; \"S. as." 562; "iyuni", 62b; "Rokea", 275; "Mordecai", "Pes." 894, pp. 20d-21a; "Maharil", 6b; "Leket Yosher", I, 70; "Responsa" of Israel Bruna, 36, p. 16b; Isserles, "Yore Deah", 116:5; "Ora ayim" 455:1 "Hagahot Maimuniot", "Hil. Pes.", 458:9; Tyrnau, "Minhagim", 8a; "Shibbole HaLeket", 211, p. 171. An attempt was made to explain the use of iron on the ground that Ex. 7:19, speaking of the first plague, predicts that all the streams and all water stored "in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone" will turn to blood, omitting metal receptacles; another, Kabbalistic, explanation was that the consonants of the Hebrew word for iron, "barzel", are the initials of Jacob's wives, Bilhah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Leah, and that these ladies protect the water against the spirits (Isserlein's supercommentary to Rashi, Ex. 7:19; Brck, 4,-2). "iyuni", 42a, has the note that "in many places they call the "Tekufah" 'Wasserkalb'"; Gdemann's suggestion (iii, 130) that this ailment, dropsy ("Wassersucht, ahd. auch wazarchalp") may have been traced to the "Tekufah" is borne out by Schudt (IV, 2, p. 270): "so jemand in solchen Augenblick [of the "Tekufah"] auch nur das gerinste von Wasser trincke, so bekomt er Wassersucht und andere Kranckheiten."

\"Testament of Judah", 48, 49; Isserles and "Ber Heteb" on "Yore Deah", I,:4.

Eleazar of Worms, "Commentary on S. Yeirah", 10 ff., 15b; "iyuni", 4c-d; "Pitron alomot", I, 8:1; Thorndike, IV, 134 and index, s. v. "Astrological Medicine."
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