The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Faculty of Humanities The Institute of Jewish Studies

JERUSALEM STUDIES IN

JEWISH FOLKLORE

XIX-XX

For

DAN BEN-AMOS

Editors

TAMAR ALEXANDER

GALIT HASAN-ROKEM

SHALOM SABAR


Jerusalem 1998

The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Editorial Board

Dov Noy (Chairperson)
Haya Bar-Itzhak, Dan Ben-Amos, Issachar Ben-Ami, Joseph Dan,
Olga Goldberg, Dimitri Segal, Aliza Shenhar,
Amnon Shiloah, Eli Yassif

Style Editor
Reuven Eshel


ENGLISH SUMMARIES

THE SANCTIFICATION OF PLACE IN ISRAEL'S CIVIL AND TRADITIONAL RELIGION

Yoram Bilu


The symbolic constitution of Israel's sacred geography is informed by Judaism's folk and traditional religion on the one hand and by Israeli civil religion on the other hand. The article discusses these two avenues of spatial sanctification as being juxtaposed and interrelated. The Zionist sanctification of space was based on Jewish traditional idioms and symbolism which were cast in the mold of a revolutionary movement of liberation and, later, of an evolving nation-state. The major patterns of Israel's national cults are discussed in relation to the patriotic glorification of independence and to the commemoration of fallen soldiers - Mount Herzl as a national shrine, military cemeteries and monuments, and the patriotic ritual calendar. Special attention is given to the penetration of Jewish traditional motifs into the Zionist statist civil religion following the Six-Day War.

As against the weakening of Zionist ideology in its secular-collectivistic guise, the renaissance of popular beliefs and practices related to traditional holy places reflects the strengthening of folk-religious and nationalistic themes in Israeli society. Some patterns of saint veneration in Israel are treated, stressing the central role played by Israelis of Moroccan background in the cult of the saints. The concluding remarks deal with the linkage between the two avenues of sanctification discussed in this essay. .

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THE THE CUSTOM OF SENDING JEWISH NEW YEAR CARDS: ITS HISTORY AND ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT

Shalom Sabar


Many Jewish customs are closely associated with particular objects that shed light on the history and development of the custom. One of these objects is the extremely popular Jewish New Year card, also known in Hebrew as shana tova. Millions of such greeting cards are sent every year throughout the Jewish world, only to be discarded following the holiday. Some authorities have suggested that the origin of this custom is the Christian New Year card, which became popular only in the nineteenth century. However, the custom was already mentioned in rabbinical sources of fourteenth-century Germany. Basing themselves on a familiar Talmudic dictum in Tractate Rosh ha-Shana 16b concerning the "setting down" of one's fate in one of the three Heavenly books that are opened on Rosh ha-Shana, the Maharil (1360-1427) and other contemporary German rabbis recommended adding the blessing "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year" at the beginning of letters sent during the month of Ellul and until Yom Kippur.

German Jews who followed this practice gradually began using specially prepared decorative papers for this purpose, accompanied by appropriate inscriptions. The earliest surviving examples are from Germany of the 1830s. Large printed Rosh ha-Shana tablets, sent abroad for fund-raising purposes, were also produced by Jews in nineteenth-century Eretz Israel. However, only with the introduction of the picture postcard in late nineteenth-century Europe was this Jewish custom speedily adopted, becoming highly popular in Europe (especially in Germany and Poland) and in the US (New York in particular). The illustrations and wishes on the cards produced in these countries provide a wealth of information on the customs, traditions, ceremonies, ideals and ideologies of the Jews in the pre-World War I period.

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A NATION OF SLAVES, A CHOSEN PEOPLE AND CULTURAL HEROES

Luis Landau


Anthropologists and folklorists have constantly emphasized the noble origin of the hero who was abandoned as an infant by his true parents only to be adopted by "common" ones. This essay critically examines this essentially aristocratic ideologic mechanism which engendered a one-dimensional vision of cultural heroes who were consistently denied the alternative of plebeian origin. Jewish tradition is characterized by the overwhelming presence of heroes, both historical and mythical, of modest birth. This is a result of the deeply-rooted collective memory of the Hebrew enslavement in Egypt, that generated a moral imperative of solidarity with the oppressed. As opposed to this image of a nation of slaves, one encounters another one - just as old and elementary - of Israel as the Chosen People, enjoying manifest superiority. Out of the dialectic tension between these two concepts, the configuration of the popular hero as one who emerges from the lower ranks of society has on the whole reigned supreme.

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THE PASSAGE FROM ETHIOPIA TO THE PROMISED LAND: RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN TRANSITION

Hagar Salamon


The evolving understanding of racial phenomena as a dialogic discourse opens new avenues for plunging the depths of racial constructs, and directs our gaze to the heterogeneity, nuances and dynamic nature of these constructs. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Ethiopian immigrants in Israel, this article examines the unique transition of the group from Jews in black Ethiopia to blacks in Jewish Israel, thereby facilitating an analysis of racial constructions and of changing conceptual race and religious dynamics in complex dialogic processes. These processes apply to a subgroup of "black" slaves who were subjugated to them while in Ethiopia as well as within the wider Jewish and non-Jewish society in Israel.

Being both black and Jewish, Ethiopian Jews are located precisely along the boundary line through which Jewish culture discovers its 'border-text' in a constant back-and-forth of verification and negation, and thus bear the potential of a new Jewish self-definition.

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THE ON THE MEANING OF PERSONAL NAMES IN HAKITIC PROVERBS

Tamar Alexander and Yaakov Ben tolila


A corpus of Hakitic proverbs was used in the authors' research in order to examine the correlation between personal names and proverbs. They offer a model for analysis and typology of personal names in proverbs which presents two main categories and some subcategories. I. The first category concerns names that signify actual people: a) names with regular historical reference; b) names with communal reference, further subdivided into general Jewish historical names and local names. II. The second category refers to fictitious names that specifically exist only in proverbs and folktales: a) names of literary characters; b) non-names, such as unique synthetic names and common nouns which function as personal names. On the synchronic level, the two main categories are related, functioning simultaneously and in multi-dimensional ways in the consciousness of both the proverber and the responder. From the diachronic aspect, the semantic development of the personal name was examined in three stages: a) the biographical stage; b) the literary stage; c) the lexicalization stage. In order to exemplify the application of the three-stage model and the typological characterization of the personal name, a detailed analysis of two provnames was presented: "Rahel swore by/ for Menahem" and "Alisha went to the bath and brought back what to tell for a whole year."

Hakitia is an intermediate form between Judezmo and Judaeo-Arabic. This is expressed not only by the linguistic traits but also by Hakitic culture, including the proverbs and their literary format. The relatively numerous use of Arabic names amongst Hakiticprovnames also points to the Moroccan Judaeo-Arabic influence. Another common feature of both the Judeo-Arabic and Hakitic cultures is expressed by the non-existence of provnames of historical context in these repertoires, as opposed to the Judezmo repertoire. The Hakitic provnames are one of the channels through which the uniqueness of this community, as a distinct member of the Judaeo-Sephardic group, is expressed.

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MYTHICIZATION OF A POPULAR SINGER: ORAL AND WRITTEN TRAD1TIONS ABOUT HBIBA MSIKA (TUNIS, I903-I930)

Yosef and Zivia Tobi


Hbiba Msika, a young woman of the Jewish community of Tunis, was a very popular singer and a central figure in the Arab theater of Tunisia. She was born into a Jewish family of musicians in 1903. Of all the vocalists-actresses, she alone lives on in the memory of Tunisians. She aroused the enthusiasm of the entire pre-World War I generation. At a time when artistic life was considered disgraceful for a woman, she won the admiration and respect of the city's cultural elite. She studied singing and piano. At the age of twenty, Hbiba embarked on her artistic career as a vocalist at weddings. Later she was attracted to the theater.

If Hbiba Msika was considered an ideal woman, this was not due to her talent, or even because of her beauty; rather, it was simply because of her kind nature. Only her captivating heart, her wisdom, her appearance, her fine bearing and her private life can explain the fascination she held for the mcii who clustered around her throughout her short life. Contrary to other artists, she remained a part of the city's elite. She lived in fabulous luxury, but her generosity was legendary. She was burnt to death at the hands of an admirer, Eliyahu Maymouni, on 20 February 1930. News of her passing caused general shock. The memory of the funeral she was accorded lives on to this day: the city's entire population weepingly accompanied her to her final resting place. The article studies the memory of Hbiba Msika as it still lives among Israelis of Tunisian origin. Appended are two Judaeo-Arabic elegies about her murder, composed by two Jewish poets of Tunisia.

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OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT: JEWISH FOLK NARRATIVES RECORDED BY A POLISH AUTHOR. A STUDY OF THE MIRACLE IN THE CEMETERY BY KLEMENS JUNOSZA

Haya Bar-Itzhak


The article deals with The Miracle in the Cemetery (Cud na Kirkucie) by Polish author Klemens Junosza, that contains Jewish folk narratives which he recorded from a Jewish storyteller in the environs of Lublin. Though the volume was published in Warsaw in 1905, the recording of the narratives took place during the second half of the previous century, as is evident from those stories that appeared in a periodical during the 1880s. In addition to the stories themselves, the book also presents a description of the process of communication between the storyteller -a Jewish tailor - and his listener - an educated Polish author with a tendency to historical precision, a man possessed by the conceptual outlooks of his time and place, and no less ethnocentric than the teller.

This study of the book was undertaken with the aim of examining a substantive issue in folk narrative research - storytelling outside the natural context, or extra-cultural storytelling. This takes place when the participants in a case of storytelling do not come from the same cultural context, but rather from different cultural systems. The article examines how stories that are told to an extra-cultural listener are designed, and how this listener and his responses shape their character. The stories included in this volume and the description of the communication process that evolves between the Jewish storyteller and his Polish listener also testify to the importance of the folk narrative as a means of conducting inter-cultural communication.

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THE AFFAIR OF BERL VERBLUNSKY, JEWISH FOLKLORE COLLECTOR IN POLAND BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS

Ronnie Biran


Berl Verblunsky volunteered to collect and record Jewish folklore for the YIVO institute in Vilna, Poland, between the two world wars. He was accused by Y.L. Cahan, one of the most prominent Jewish folklorists of the time, who lived in New York, of forging and editing the folklore texts that Verblunsky claimed to have collected. The article presents the accusations and explores the circumstances surrounding them, while elaborating on the problems and constraints facing Jewish folkloristics in its first steps as a scientific discipline in Poland in the interwar period.

Examination and analysis of the issues shows that Verblunsky was not a forger; rather, he was a victim of a clash between two conflicting concepts and methodologies of recording folklore. The investigation of this accusation is an important step in evaluating the status of the numerous texts collected by Berl Verblunsky, which are now kept in the YIVO archives in New York.

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OLEKSA DOVBUSH (DOBUSH) AS HISTORICAL FIGURE AND FOLKLORE CHARACTER

Larisa Fialkova


Oleksa Dovbush (Dobush), a Ukrainian national hero of the eighteenth century (1700-1745), was a Ukrainian Robin Hood, leader of the oprishki - an anti-feudal and anti-Polish movement. He is also the hero of many Ukrainian folk legends and songs, as well as of Ukrainian literature. In Jewish folklore and Hebrew literature, Dobush is known primarily for his legendary meeting in the Carpathians with the Ba'al Shem Toy, the founder of Hasidism. A unique Jewish legend concerning that meeting is here published in Hebrew for the first time. The Jews considered Dobush to be a repentant robber, while for the Ukrainians he is an epic hero.

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INTERTEXTUALITY IN FOLK LITERATURE: PAGAN THEMES IN FOLKTALES OF THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD

Eli Yassif


Intertextuality has not been considered a specifically folkloristic term by scholars of folk literature. It is suggested here that classical concepts of "tradition" and "oicotype" are actually intertextual in their very essence. The article offers a close reading of two Jewish tales - a thirteenth-century folktale and a Hasidic legend - in which guidelines for an intertextual analysis of folk narratives are proposed. Both examples bring into focus the function of pagan motifs in normative Jewish folk narratives. It is suggested that the simultaneous appearance of the Jewish-normative motifs is the main vehicle for creating narrative complexity and multivalence in these folk narratives.

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THE BAD ADVICE OF WOMEN: A THEMATIC SERIES IN MEDIEVAL HEBREW LITERATURE

Judith Dishon


The article considers the theme of the bad advice of women in the Hebrew literature of the Middle Ages. It shows that many proverbs, sayings and stories in this corpus deal with the bad advice of women. The stories built around this theme have virtually the same structure: they depict negative characteristic features of women and essentially belong to the huge repertoire of stories on the vilcs of women.

In these stories the counterpart of the wife, her husband, does not fare much better: his stupidity leads him to listen to the bad advice of his wife, which will eventually bring his own downfall. The charactcrs that figure in these stories have negative human traits - the men are stupid and the women are selfish. Both have no ideals and use their cunning to advance only their own interests. The moral of these stories is pragmatic and full of common wisdom.

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THE FUNCTION OF HUMOR IN THREE VERSIONS OF THE THEME "RABBI JOSHUA BEN LEVI AND THE ANGEL OF DEATH"

Rella Kushelevsky


The humor in the legend of "Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and the Angel of Death" embodies the awareness that death is an aspect of life and a mode of existence, freely recognized by the unfettered human spirit. Humor is an expression of the ability to accept death with under-standing and without bitterness as a dimension that indirectly confirms and defines human existence. The article presents three - Talmudic, Karaite and contemporary - out of the approximately forty versions of the legend, that treat the comic potential of the theme in three ways:through irony, parody and mythology. The ironic treatment represents a sober view of reality, free of illusions; the parodic treatment expresses an ambivalent attitude toward a different cultural code; the mythological treatment is a heroic breakthrough to the boundaries of human experience. These aspects of human reality are manifested in the text through hidden gaps between what is said and what is implied, a deliberate gap between two texts with opposing codes, and the creation of contradictions that are not resolved in the text and remain enigmatic.

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THE TEMPTING OF R. MA1TIAH B. HERESH: A THEME BETWEEN MYTHICAL TELOS AND SOCIAL TELOS

Avidov Lipsker


Ninth- and tenth-century versions of the midrashic (homiletic) tale on the tempting of Mattiah b. Heresh, a Tanna who resided in Rome after the proscriptions of Hadrian, describe the exemplary figure of a sage with a glowing countenance who totally abstained from any contact with women and spent entire days in study and good deeds. The devil, who envied Mattiah, appeared before him in the guise of a beautiful woman and tried to tempt him. Fearing lest he should succumb to temptation, the Tanna pierced out his eyes with a red-hot nail. The Lord rewarded him for successfully standing to the test by healing his blindness and freeing him from the bonds of all evil impulses.

Greco-Roman and Christian mythological motifs point to this story as being "foreign" to early midrashic literature. In fact, the way in which later versions were adapted, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (especially in early Yiddish), seems to reflect a tendency to "adopt" this story and incorporate it anew into the moral social ethos of Jewish society. This clash between the anti-mythological religious telos and the social telos shaped the modern versions of the story in the works of M.J. Berdyczewski, B. Krupnik and SY. Agnon. From this tension between the two we may be enlightened as to how modern Jewish life relates to the early midrashic literature, and how it was absorbed into Hebrew literature throughout the ages.

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HOW TO DO THINGS WITH WORDS: PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY AND MAGICAL DEEDS

Yuval Harari


In his lectures, published under the title How to do Things with Words, the British philosopher J.L. Austin first introduced his "Speech-Act Theory". In this linguistic theory Austin attempts to show that there are some utterances by which the speaker not only says something, but also performs something. For example, by saying "I bequeath my watch to my brother" or "I promise to bring the book tomorrow" under an adequate set of conditions, a man does not describe something but actually bequeathes or promises. He does things with words. The first part of the present article is a description of Austin's theory, especially of the different types of acts done while uttering a performative speech-act (the locutionary, the illocutionary, and the perlocutionary acts), and the conditions necessary for making it a "successful" one.

Austin's analysis of language and his description of the performative utterances attracted a few anthropologists, and later on even some historians of Jewish religion and mysticism. They all tried to use Austin's differentiations in order to give what they thought to be a better explanation of religious, mystical or magical language. The results of such applications of the Speech-Act Theory made by Finnegan, Tambiab, Ray and Gill in anthropological studies, and by Elkayam and Lesses in studies of Jewish mysticism are summarized in the second part of the article.

In the concluding section of the article the question is raised about the methodological legitimacy of using a modern linguistic-philosophical theory to explain magical speech. Early Jewish magic is brought as a test case. Thrcc cxamples of magic formulas are quoted from books of magic, and the similarities between the characters of the magical speech acts and the Austinian performative utterances (especially the illocutionary one) are dealt with in detail. Nevertheless, these similarities are shown to be only superficial. The two types of performative speech acts - the magical and the Austinian - are interpreted as being essentially different, since they are anchored in essentially different views of reality in general, and language in particular. It is thus concluded to be a methodological mistake to try to explain the essence and the character of magical speech by the differentiations and the terminology of Austin's linguistic-philosophical Speech-Act Theory.

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OEDIPUS AND THE RIDDLES OF APOLLO

Yitzhak Ben- Mordechai


Sophocles employed two lines of genre to turn the mythological story of Oedipus into a tragedy: the genre of the riddle and the genre of the detective story (which is generally based on the riddle). In this article both the importance of the riddle to the plot and its connection to taboo will be examined. The article draws attention to the connection between the riddle and the cultural tradition that relates the serious to the comic, and examines to what extent elements of comedy exist in this play. Dealing with the serious and the comic will enable to show that Sophocles' play expresses basic ideas on which the carnival is based.

The most famous riddle in the play is that of the Sphinx. However, there are three more. The first was posed in the oracle's prophecy to King Laios. The second is the prophecy that the oracle poses to Oedipus. Oedipus' failure (like that of Laios before him) is in that he fails to recognize that the oracle's prophecy - that he will kill his father - is indeed a riddle and not an explicit statement. The third riddle in the play concerns the person who caused the plague in Thebes. In the play it is Apollo who poses the riddle (through his agents - the oracle and Tiresias) and Oedipus is the one who has to unravel them. Using riddles was Apollo's decision. He could have acted in a more straightforward manner, but he chose to play with Oedipus and even let him believe for a long time that he was safe. However, in a certain and quite arbitrary moment Apollo decided to end the game of riddles and confront Oedipus with the horrible truth. In setting a struggle between himself and Oedipus evolving around riddles, Apollo created an ambiguous situation. On the one hand, Apollo is a god, while Oedipus is only a human being. On the other hand, Oedipus is given a real opportunity to solve the riddle - that he will kill his father without disclosing who is his real father. That Oedipus has a real chance to unravel this riddle is clear from his success in solving that of the Sphinx.

This ambiguity relates to two different perspectives on the play. From the point of view of Oedipus it is a tragedy. From the standpoint of Apollo the events of the play are an extended carnival, many of whose characteristics find expression in the play. One of them is the mock crowning: Oedipus is crowned as king of Thebes. From the perspective of the carnival (and Apollo) it is a mock crowning, since it is clear that eventually Oedipus will be dismissed from office. Apollo sets in motion a number of carnival-type situations that set Oedipus up for a fall time after time. It is this carnival-of-shadows which forms the cultural background of the play.

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THE LIGHTING OF SIMHAT TORAH BONFIRE IN GEDERA

Nili Arye-Sapir


The article is based on traditionally transmitted accounts of an annual ceremony of lighting a bonfire on the evening following Simhat Torah in Gedera, the colony founded by the Biluim - a group of young Russian Jewish pioneers - conducted between 1890 and 1920. The variations between the different accounts are analyzed to point out the difference between the attitude of a direct descendant of the Biluim and that of younger members of the community. Whereas the description by the older generation is based upon a strong ideological commitment to the ideals embodied by the generation which enacted the ceremony, the younger generation tends to a nostalgic reconstruction with less ideological emphasis.

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THE TRANSFORMATION OF ZALMAN SHNEUR'S POEM "YAD ANUGA" INTO A POPULAR SONG

Hagit Matras and Yaacov Mazor


"Yad Anuga", one of Zalman Shneur's famous poems. was first published by Y.H. Brenner in his literary periodical Hame'orer which appeared in London in February 1906, a fact that was not even mentioned by Shneur himself. The song can be found in print with the notes of its well-known melody and in the memory of many people since the 1920s. However, by reading through correspondence between Brenner and his friends during the first decade of the century we find that the song was then sung to a different melody. The present project was begun a few years ago to try to ascertain whether there actually was an earlier melody and whether it can still be traced.

The article outlines the path followed by the authors - unpublished correspondence, published material and ongoing field work, inter-viewing many people - that led them to the discovery of as close a version of the "first melody" as possible, and also to learn about the conditions which made possible the connection between the words and the melody of "Yad Anuga" in Vilna, near the time of the poem's first publication.

The authors concluded that "Yad Anuga" "behaved" very much like other songs of its time: it was written and set to music in Europe at the beginning of the century. It then migrated to Eretz Israel as the poem of a famous young Zionist, becoming widespread in a melody adopted from the local repertoire. Later it was transported back to its "homeland" in its new form which completely overcame the first melody, becoming one of the well-known "pioneer" songs, and as such it returned to Eretz Israel.

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REPRESENTATION AND DIALOGUE IN FOLKLORE RESEARCH: THE POETICS AND POLITICS OF AN UNPERFORMED FESTIVAL

Galit Hasan-Rokem


The socio-political perspective of folklore research is highlighted by projects of applied folklore, such as the one discussed in this article: the American Folk Life Festival organized by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The purpose of the article is to give a short description and an analysis of the research of the Palestinian and Israeli teams who prepared for the performance and exhibition of "Jerusalem" at the festival. The description dwells on the dialogic context of the enterprise. The Jewish festival of Sukkot ("The Feast of the Tabernacles") is focused on as an example that illuminates the representational as well as the ideological complexity of the transformation of the field work materials into a performed festival item, as a potential "festival within the festival". The further complexities of the representation of Jerusalem at the festival at a given moment in the interrelationship of the three peoples involved in the project - American, Israeli and Palestinian - are analyzed within the theoretical framework of the representation of "the city within the city" as a special case of the narratological figure of the mise en abyme.


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