Letter: BL OR 5542.24

Letter BL OR 5542.24


Input date

In PGP since 2017


Letter from a cantor or teacher to his boss in Cairo. The cantor had been “accused of having assembled a group of young men and danced a zuhdī dance with them" — presumably an allegation of homosexual behavior. The cantor lived in a small place outside Cairo, but on learning that his boss had been informed, he immediately set off for the city. “I contracted fever and, following it, dizziness. When I was about to recover, I received a note from you that you had heard about me that I assemble young men and dance a zuhdi dance with them. When I learned about this matter, I became alarmed and relapsed. I decided to go to Cairo to clear my honor from that talk about me; but when I arrived at the Nile, I fainted. Such an occurrence is not unknown. But I wish to clear my honor against the one who told this about me. If people have indeed given witness about this, whatever I shall be obliged to do, I shall [not] dodge.” On the reverse side, where the sender would normally include well wishes for the deliverer, the cantor wrote “Cursed be he who does not bring this to the attention of R. Joseph.” Information from Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, Volume 5, 202-203, and from Alexandra Kersley ('19), seminar paper on homosexuality in the Geniza, Fall 2018.