Letter: ENA 4100.10

Letter ENA 4100.10



Letter addressed to ʿAbd al-Karīm. In Judaeo-Arabic. Dating: Late, probably 14th century at the earliest. The writer and addressee are Qaraites. Very long. Conveys information about conflicts and disputes and the lashing of women by a court. Altogether a detailed report of communal affairs. Recto. The writer reports on the charge against a certain woman that she went to see an astrologer (munajjim), and that the addressee's mother went as well and protected the other woman. The ḥakīm himself gave the woman 20 strokes with a cane. The writer is very agitated about this and urges secrecy ("these are matters that should only be spoken in the grave"). The next couple dozen lines are damaged and difficult to read. Some time later, Naṣrallāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥīm b. the addressee's paternal uncle אבן אלנשו was going up the stairs when Ṣadaqa b. Ibrāhīm al-Ṣaghīr accosted him. It seems that Ṣadaqa upset Naṣrallāh, who went crying to his mother, who spoke angrily without realizing that the guards (shomrim) were listening, and word of what she said reached Ṣadaqa, who confronted the mother of Naṣrallāh and called her a fājirat kalb (!) who goes around seducing (tatabahraju) other men's husbands. The next couple lines are difficult to read; they mention "al-khāziniyyīn" and the addressee's parents. Subsequently, all the protagonists gathered in Dār Ben Sameaḥ (=Dār Simḥa, the main Karaite synagogue in Cairo from roughly the 14th century onward—see tag) on Saturday night for the reading of the Torah (al-talāwa). Ṣadaqa got up to read the Torah. The addressee's cousin ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (the father of Naṣrallāh and the husband of the woman whom Ṣadaqa had insulted) got up together with ʿAbd al-Raḥīm al-Shurayṭī, and they vehemently objected that a person who curses elders could ever read the Torah in the synagogue. Ṣadaqa then verbally abused them ("half of your prayers are heresy, you ass. . . .") and did the same to the others who confronted him (al-Melammed, al-Ḥakīm, his father and maternal uncle). The brawl continued until "the cameldriver was in the riverbed" (al-ḥādī fī l-wādī) and the community missed the chance to read the Torah. Eventually Ṣadaqa and Naṣrallāh's mother were summoned to continue their argument in the house of al-Muʿallim Sharaf al-Dīn, where Ṣadaqa was convicted of making oaths in vain and cursing elders/ancestors, and he therefore lost his right to pray before the congregation or read the Torah (yaṭlub sefer). The marginal note belongs here ("Why did you curse the khāziniyyīn?" "I only cursed them because of ʿAbd al-Raḥīm. . . "). It seems that a group (Ṣadaqa's gang?) was then overheard threatening to beat the muʿallim. The story winds down around here; the writer repeats that these matters are only to be discussed in the grave. Verso. The writer asks the addressee not to show this letter to Ibn al-Melammed, and also to take it with him to Cairo. The writer excuses the addressee for his failure to write, but, "When you went up to Jerusalem, you had no excuse left" or, "When you go up to Jerusalem, you will have no excuse left." He then gives detailed reports on the sightings of the new moons of Elul and Av. He mentions in passing "Yūsuf b. ʿAlam [who] was traveling through the lands collecting the jāmikiyya." Unpublished, uncited in the literature, and requiring much more work. ASE.

ENA 4100.10 1




ENA 4100.10 2

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