מכתב: T-S 8J26.19

מכתב T-S 8J26.19



Letter from the wife of Baṣīr (or rather Nuṣayr) the bell-maker (al-jalājilī) to the Nagid David II Maimonides, asking him to help return her husband, who was living in a Sufi community, to his family and to the Jewish faith. She also asks for medicine for her child. "Our Lord has promised the little one a medicine for the ear, for he suffers from it. There is no harm in trying it out, seeing that even the barber is playing with it without experience. May God have mercy!" Goitein suggests that the last line in Arabic script may be a notation from the addressee reading ليلتها ("this very night"), however it might simply be the conclusion of the letter—what is expected after ורחמה is الله وبركاته, which fits the rasm well [ASE]. Goitein identifies the addressee as David II rather than David I based on the reference to the Sufi master "al-Kūrānī," who he says is no doubt identical with Yūsuf al-ʿAjamī al-Kūrānī, who died in Cairo in January 1367. As David II became Nagid in 1355 following the death of his father Yehoshuaʿ, this letter dates to the years 1355–67. (Information mainly from CUDL and Goitein's article on this document.)

T-S 8J26.19 1r



S. D. Goitein, "A Jewish Addict to Sufism: In the Time of the Nagid David II Maimonides," The Jewish Quarterly Review 44, no. 1 (n.p.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 37–49.


  1. בשמ רחמ
  2. אל מושב אדונינו נגידנו דוד ירום הודו ויגדל כבודו
  3. אלממלוכה
  4. זוגת נציר
  5. אלגלאגלי
  6. תקבל אלארץ ותנהי אן פי חלקהא
  7. תלאת אטפאל וזוגהא קד הוי אלגבל ענד
  8. אלכוראני פי הבל וריק מקום אין בו תורה
  9. ולא תפלה ולא זכירת השם על האמת
  10. כל הוא יטלע אלגבל ויכאלט אלפקרא
  11. ולהם אלטאהר ומא להם אלבאטן ואלממלוכה
  12. תכשי אן יחצל תם אדם רע יוצאי(!) אותו
  13. מן הדת ותצאי(!) אלשלשה ילדים וקד
  14. הלכת אלממלוכה מן אלוחדי וטלבה
  15. אלצגאר אלקות ומקצוד אלממלוכה
  16. אן יסיר סידנא כלפה ויעמל מעה בצאיב
  17. ראיה ואלממלוכה מא תריד מנה מא
  18. ליס להו עליה קדרה ולא דרגת אלגנא

Recto, right margin:

  1. ומא מקצוד אלממלוכה
  2. אלי אנקטאעה ען אלגבל
  3. ואלראפה עלי אלצגאר
  4. ואדא אראד אלתטוע
  5. יכון פי אלכניס


S. D. Goitein, "A Jewish Addict to Sufism: In the Time of the Nagid David II Maimonides," The Jewish Quarterly Review 44, no. 1 (n.p.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 37–49.


  1. In your name, You Merciful.

  2. To the high Seat of our Lord the Nagid, may his splendor be exalted and his honor great.

  3. The maidservant

  4. the wife of Basīr the bellmaker kisses the ground and submits that she has on her neck

  6. three children because her husband was completely infatuated with (life on) the mountain with

  7. al-Kūrānī, in vain and to no purpose, a place where there is no Torah,

  8. no prayer and no mention of God's name in truth.

  9. He goes up the mountain and mingles with the mendicants,

  10. although these have only the semblance, but not the essence, of religion. The maidservant

  11. is afraid there may be there some bad man who may induce her husband to forsake

  12. the Jewish Faith, taking with him the three children.

  13. The maidservant almost perishes because of her solitude and her search

  14. after food for the little ones. It is her wish

  15. that our Master go after her husband and take the matter up with him according to his unfailing

  16. wisdom, and what the maidservant entreats him to do is not

  17. beyond his power nor the high degree of his influence.


Recto, right margin

  1. The only thing which the maidservant wants is

  2. that her husband cease to go up the mountain

  3. and that he may show mercy towards the little ones.

  4. If he wishes to devote himself to God,

  5. he may do so in the synagogue,


T-S 8J26.19 1v



  1. מלאזם תפלת שחרית ומנחה ומעריב
  2. וסמאע דבר תורה ולא יתעסאק בהבלי
  3. עולם ואיצא אנה ביעאיי אלממלוכה
  4. עלי ביע אלדאר ואלאנפרד מן ישראל
  5. ואלסכני פי אלגבל ואנקטאע אלצגאר
  6. מן תלאוה אלתורה פאן כאן מולאנא
  7. ישיר עלי אלממלוכה בדאלך וילזמהא
  8. בה פהו מא ירא אלי בלצואב ושלום
  9. ומולאנא אללה יטיל עמרה ידבר אקלים
  10. ומא המתה אלעאליה קצירה ען אכפאף
  11. אלמדכור מן אלטלוע אלי אלגבל ומלאזמה

Verso, right margin:

  1. בית הכנסת ואלתסבב
  2. פי קות אלעאילה
  3. וכאן סידנא קד אועד אלצגיר
  4. בדוא לודנה והו פי שדה
  5. מנהא ומא באס תגרב
  6. אכלי אלמזין ילעב פיה
  7. גיר מכברה ורחמה
  8. الله وبركاته


  1. attending regularly morning, afternoon and evening prayers,

  2. and listening to the words of the Torah, but he should not occupy himself with useless

  3. things. Furthermore, he presses the maidservant

  4. to sell their house, to leave the Jewish community

  5. and to stay on the mountain, (which would mean that) the little ones would cease

  6. to study the Torah. (It would be helpful) if our Lord

  7. gave orders to the maidservant in that matter and instructed her

  8. concerning it, for his wisdom is unfailing. And Peace.

  9. Our Lord—may God prolong his life—is in charge of a vast region;

  10. thus his high aspiration could not fail to hinder

  11. the above mentioned from going up the mountain and to induce him to attend


Verso, right margin


  1. the synagogue and to occupy himself

  2. with the upkeep of the family.

  3. N. B. Our Lord has promised the little one

  4. a medicine for the ear, for he suffers 

  5. from it. There is no harm in trying it out,

  6. seeing that even the barber is playing with it

  7. without experience. May God have mercy!


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