Letter: Bodl. MS heb. c 64/1

Letter Bodl. MS heb. c 64/1



Letter from Eliezer Zussman, in Jerusalem, to his son Avigdor. In Hebrew. It has an unusual form for a letter: there are no greetings and it ends "ne'um Eliezer known as Zussman"—he seems to have written this page mainly in order to document what happened. Dating: probably not very long after 14 January 1546, the date of the earthquake. "Contemporary Hebrew documents provide an additional, independent source of information about the earthquake. From a Hebrew manuscript notice written by Eliezer Sussman ben Rabbi Abraham Carit [or Tsarit?], who arrived in Jerusalem in [November] 1545 two months before the earthquake, we learn that 'In the month of Shvat the Almighty has shown us signs and wonders that none of our forefathers ever witnessed, and on the 11th of that month, on Thursday, about one in the afternoon. . . (because) of the quake many towers fell down, almost the third of their height, and the tower of "A.A." was one of them. About ten gentiles were killed in Jerusalem but none of the Jews, and in the town of Nablus the earthquake was so strong that at least three hundred gentiles, and three or four Jews were killed. There were also further shocks after that, but not so strong, and to this day we are in constant fear of an earthquake all day and night. . . (Braslavski, 1938).' The 11th of Shvat corresponds to 14 January 1546, which was a Thursday. Klein (1939) suggests that the acronym "A.A." stands for "Avraham Avinu", i.e. our Father Abraham, and refers to the tower over Abraham's Tomb in Hebron. This locality is mentioned in Mujir al-Din's sequel as Al-Khalil, the Arabic name used for Hebron because of Abraham's, the Friend of Allah, sanctuary. The disagreement as to when the copy of this document was made and by whom (Braslavski, 1938; Turnianski, 1984), does not detract from the authenticity of its contents. Sussman died about 20 years after the earthquake [see T-S 13J4.19], and the phrasing suggests that he wrote the note shortly after the event." Ambraseys and Karcz, "The Earthquake of 1546 in the Holy Land," Terra Nova 4 (1992), no. 2, 254–63. There are various notes and calculations added in Italian in 1917 on this fragment and the others in the folder.

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