Letter: Bodl. MS heb. b 13/49Letter Bodl. MS heb. b 13/49
Input dateIn PGP since 2017
Letter from Labrāṭ b. Moshe b. Sughmār, in al-Mahdiyya, to his brother Yehuda b. Moshe b. Sughmār, in Fustat. Dating: July 30 (26 Av), 1057, based on Gil's assessment. (Gil dates ENA NS 18.35, written on 6 Elul, to the previous year. But both letters contain very similar congratulations on Yehuda's wedding, so perhaps they were sent two weeks apart instead of eleven months.) Labrāṭ opens with describing his great anxiety on account of his brother, because he had not received a letter from him all year. "My heart was preoccupied and I thought the worst, for he who loves is inflamed (muwallaʿ) with thinking the worst. On the eve of ʿAẓeret (Shavuʿot), Fityān and his associates arrived in a boat from Sfax to al-Mahdiyya. When I saw them, my soul almost left me and I went pale (? akhadhatnī ṣufra). I said to myself, perhaps they have news [of you]. . . . [Fityān] said, God bless him, that your letters were with him. I prostrated myself and thanked God for His favor" (r4–8). Labrāṭ then congratulates his brother on his marriage into a distinguished family (r10–19). He mentions a person of low morals whom he tries to avoid, but he recently had to go to this person's wedding in Sūsa (r19–21). When he returned to al-Mahdiyya, 'the boy' was sick (ḍaʿīf), and worsened, and almost died. Every day letters arrive from people in Sūsa, perhaps specifically from the man of low morals, blaming Labrāṭ regarding either this boy or that person's affairs (aḥwālihi). The next phrase is quite difficult, perhaps: "I considered that he was heedless (sahā), and I decided to completely despair of him (i.e., end the relationship). I am left with no eye to see light with, [and nothing] to take pride in, except for you, may God protect you (r21–24). (Gil reads it differently.) The remainder of the letter deals with business matters. The writer is much older than his brother. He asks him to fulfill his family’s duty by helping him with his business. He also mentions events in the Maghreb. Apparently there is a naval fleet besieging Sūsa. (Information in part from Gil, Kingdom, Vol. 4, #615.) See also Goitein, Med Soc III, viii, B, 1 no. 36. VMR. ASE.