Letter: CUL Or.1080 J21

Letter CUL Or.1080 J21



Letter from Ṭoviya b. Moshe, in Jerusalem, to his daughter, in Fustat, April 1040 or 1041. "The following description of the writer's well-being is altogether exceptional: 'I am completely comfortable in my body and all my affairs. My clothes do not hold me for all my happiness and success.' The story was indeed complicated. A Byzantine Jew had married a Muslim woman, certainly a captive whom he had ransomed. When the couple moved to Palestine they separated, and the wife took residence in Egypt with her daughter, who had meanwhile grown up. The mother fell on bad times, and in this letter the father tries to persuade the girl to return to him and the Jewish fold, pointing out that he (in contrast to her mother) was in excellent health and enjoyed material prosperity and thus was able to provide for her" (Goitein, Med Soc V, 47-48).

CUL Or.1080 J21 1r



Moshe Gil, Palestine During the First Muslim Period (634–1099)‎ (in Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1983), vol. 2.


  1. כתאבי אליך יא בנתי מן אלקדס אלמחרוס לתלת בקי מן שהר רגאב (!) ממא אעלמיך יא
  2. בנתי מא פי קלבי מן אמריך אן פי קלבי אלנאר בסבביך ואללה ביניך ובין מן טלמיך
  3. וצייריך יתימה ואנא באלחיאה ואנתי יא בנתי תנתטרי פצל [[אלאנא]] אלנאס באפעאל
  4. אמך אסל אללה תעאלי אן לא יגפר להא דנב אן בסבב שהוה רוחהא קד הלכיך ואללה
  5. חקיך מנהא ואעלמי יא בנתי אני קד גרי מני ימין חתי לא אנפד לך שי
  6. ואנא מחייר פי אמריך וליס אדרי מא אלדי אצנע פי חאליך ואללה יעלם אן מא
  7. פי קלבי שי מן אלגם ולא הם אלא ליך [[אלא]] בל אנא פי גסמי ופי אחואלי כלהא ב/אל/נעאם
  8. ואן תיאבי מא יסעוני ממא אנא מן אלפרח ואלאקב{א}ל ואני לו ארדת אלדניא לכנת
  9. אליום פי באב כביר לאני קד צארת וכיל לציאע אלסלטאן אלדי פי ש{א}ם באלרזק
  10. אלטאיל ואל[. . .] אלחסן ואן כאלתיך קד ראתני ואיצא זוגהא ואיצא אבו אלפצל
  11. קד/א/מי אלרגאלא ואלאמר ואלנהי ואנא סלטאן אללה רדני כיר ממא כנת מן
  12. קבל פכאן אקב{א}לי אנא וכאן /אל/נחץ לאמך וללה אלחמד ואלאן יא מא אעלם מע
  13. מן אנתי וליס אדרי הל אנתי מע אליהוד אלדי הם אצל אביך או //אלי// אלאצל א[מ]ך
  14. מע אלגוים והדא אנא אעלמך אן כאנו יביעוך לי אנא בנתי אשתריך ואכלציך
  15. מן אידיהם אלא שי אכר //ליס// פי אמכאני ואנא אקול אני בעד אלענצרה כארג אלי
  16. דיאר אלרום אלי בלאדי ואלי אהלי וערפני מן קבל {במא} פי נפסיך ואנטר מא אצנע פי חאליך
  17. אן שא אללה


S. D. Goitein, "Parents and Children: a Genizah Study of the Medieval Jewish Family," Gratz College Annual of Jewish Studies 4 (n.p., 1975), 47 - 68.


I am writing to you, my daughter, from Jerusalem, may God keep it, on the 27th of Rajab. I wish to tell you, my daughter, what I think about your affairs. Fire is in my heart because of you; God is between me and that one who harmed and made you an orphan while I am alive. You, my daughter, must look for alms from strangers because of the deeds of your mother. I ask God, the exalted, not to forgive her that she destroyed you in order to satisfy her cupidity. He will punish her for what she has done to you. 

Know, my daughter, that I have given a solemn oath not to send you anything as long as I am uncertain about your status and do not know how to act in regard with you. God knows that I have no worry or distress except you. Otherwise, I am completely satisfied with my health and my affairs; my clothes do not hold me for happiness and good luck. Had I sought only worldly gain, then I could regard myself today as a great success, for I have become the administrator of the estates of the Sultan here in Palestine, for an ample salary and fine income. Your maternal aunt has seen me, and her husband too, and also Abu 'l-Faḍl. The police are at my disposal, command and prohibition are in my hand, and I am a sultan. God has made me happier than I had been before; so the good fortune has been mine and the misfortune has come to your mother, and praise be to God. 

Now, my daughter, I do not know with whom you are, with the Jews, who are the stock of your father, or with the stock of your mother, the Muslims. But this I wish you to know: even if they wanted to sell you to me, who are my own daughter, I would buy you and rescue you from their hands, except one other thing which I cannot do. 

After Pentecost I am leaving for the lands of the Rūm (Byzantium) to visit my native country and my family. Let me know before what your intentions are so that I can decide what to do with you, if God will. 


CUL Or.1080 J21 1v

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