Letter: Yevr.-Arab. II 1457

Letter Yevr.-Arab. II 1457



Letter from a woman named Harja (הרגה), somewhere in Syria, to her mother, the wife of Mūsā Ibn Fayrūz, in Cairo. In Judaeo-Arabic. Dating: Late, probably no earlier than 14th century. The letter is a remarkable account of Harja's months-long illness. "My heart flared up until I nearly died. I received an enema three times a day, but it did not relieve me. I remained anxious about how I would pass the fast. When the fast came, I let loose (my bowels) like one who has been loosened (in his bowels). I thought it was colic and considered that it was due to a discharge from my brain that settled in my stomach and felt like the colic. I did not sleep during the night of the fast, but I managed to last until midday, and from midday onward, it began to subside. I remained three or four days after the fast as it subsided(?) from me (or: gave me strength?). And when it subsided from me, I remained troubled on account of my eyes, for I could not see the light of the world with them. After that, the pain in my heart returned, and whenever it flared up the basin was not taken away from under my mouth, for whatever went down into my stomach came back up, and my stomach churned from all the vomit. But for now, it has abated, thanks to God for all things. I never imagined I would be carried to Syria sick and blind. I had taken the sickness into account, but not the blindness. I am afraid to have my eye treated, due to the season (i.e., season of illnesses) in Syria, and I am afraid that something else might come over me. I await a sign from God to illuminate my eyes. When you tell me that I am behaving recklessly as is my wont, I have never been more patient in all my life than I have been in these days. Someone who has not seen the light of the world for four months should not feel defeated? Whenever I awake and see the black obscurity of the morning and do not perceive the evening, my only remaining desire is to end my life. When they took me out into the sun, I didn't even see gloom, I saw only blackness." The margin and verso contain mostly greetings. See tag for more of her letters. ASE.