The USSR did not stop folklore studies but led the field to new methods. In spite of all the pressure, folklore continued to be a matter of identity, and folksongs became the marching songs of crowds resisting Soviet control in the late s. Since independence in , folklore scholars and institutions revamped and reconstituted folkloristics. Today all three countries have many active scholars and institutions. Sadhana Naithani recounts this resilient arc through an intermedial and interdisciplinary methodology of research.
The most comprehensive among them is I. Jewish paroemiology has mainly been concerned with the written proverb, especially the Jewish and Arabic sources of the medieval collections and compositions of gnomic folklore as, for example, the 14 th -century rhymed Proverbios Morales compiled by R. Shem Tov b. Only a few monographic studies have been devoted to particular proverbs, folk sayings, definite Jewish themes Attal, Avida, Galante, Jellinek, Ratzhabi , and to proverbial lore in the writings of famous authors as, for example, in the work of Agnon and Shalom Aleichem Toder.
Any collection of Jewish proverbs and sayings in oral tradition shows strong biblical and talmudic-midrashic influences. Thus many Hebrew and even Aramaic literary proverbs and sayings penetrated the oral lore of the Yiddish and Ladino-speaking Jew. In many proverbs, extant in the vernacular, the Jewish allusions and references are so dominant that the proverb cannot be understood by a gentile without adequate explanation. Universal proverbs in their Hebrew form often acquired an original "Jewish touch. Several recent Hebrew proverb compilations have used a comparative approach in their study of Jewish and foreign proverbs on the same theme Blankstein, Cohen, Sharfstein.
In ancient Jewish literature the riddle formed part of the narrative plot, as Samson's riddle in Judges Noy, Tur-Sinai, Wuensche , as well as the midrashic riddles through which the Queen of Sheba "came to test Solomon" i Kings ff. Ginzberg, Legends, 4 , ff. Side by side with the tradition of literary riddles which were often rhymed and multistrophed, there were short and simple oral folk riddles. In the folk riddle proper the story in the question was always paralleled by the same or another relevant tale in the answer solution , and the two parts could have existed independently.
There are only a few collections of Jewish riddles stemming from oral tradition in East Europe An-Ski, Bastomski, Einhorn and Yemen Ratzhabi , as the genre was never popular with Jewish adults in those culture areas. Many of the riddles refer to biblical events and demand a knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish law and lore of the solver. Before World War ii Jewish folk players put on folk dramas in many East European towns and villages, especially on Purim, or during the whole month of Adar.
In most places, including yeshivot and klaus , the taboo on playing, decorations, and masks cf.
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Playing in the open before a general and unselected audience was however often opposed by the local religious authorities who prohibited the performing of feminine roles by men. There are many manuscripts, and printed copies, and descriptions in different works of various Purim shpils. Only one fourth of them dramatize the story of the Book of Esther. Several folk plays depict postbiblical and even contemporary plots, among them the personal tragedy of Rabbenu Gershom b.
Judah Cahan, pp. Lahad nos, 23— Folk arts and folk crafts comprise the realm of Jewish visual folklore, most of it belonging to ceremonial art. Though the second commandment "Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image …," Ex.
Throughout the ages Jews, in their homeland and in the Diaspora, have created beautiful vessels, dresses, and other artifacts for the performance of the Torah commandments. Folk art objects are closely connected with 1 the ceremonial life cycle from the cradle to the grave ; 2 the ceremonial Jewish year cycle Sabbath and the festivals ; 3 varia , including the synagogue, the Jewish home, and other non-ceremonial artifacts.
The other three life cycle ceremonies are also represented in Jewish folk art :. The kindling of the Sabbath lights inaugurates the Sabbath in the Jewish home. In Western Europe star-shaped hanging oil lamps were used; these became so typical for the Jewish home that they were called Judenstern "Jewish star" , Since the 18 th century, the suspended oil lamps have been replaced by candles and candlesticks and candelabra which have become precious family heirlooms.
The holiness of the Sabbath is proclaimed by the ancient Kiddush benediction dating back to the Second Temple period which is made over a cup of wine. The cup thus became a symbol of holiness, solemnity, and happiness in family life and is frequently made of silver, though it may be of other metals and even of glass. Usually in the form of an inverted dome, preferably with a stem and base, it became customary to inscribe the Kiddush cup with biblical quotations referring to the Sabbath, the festivals, light Isa.
Special tablecloths, plates, and embroidered covers for the two Sabbath loaves are used. The Havdalah ceremony which concludes the Sabath and each festival includes wine, spices besamim , and a twisted candle. The spice container, hadas , one of the most popular ceremonial artifacts "no other ritual object shows as many variations," Kayser, p.
The most common, the tower, originated among West European Jewish communities. It is reminiscent of the city hall tower where, in medieval times, spices and aromatic plants, which were then very precious, were stored. Other forms are: pear-shaped containers, turrets, boxes, fruits, windmills Holland , fish North Africa.
The most important domestic event among all the Jewish festivals is the Passover seder.
The plates and other vessels are richly wrought with floral patterns, formulistic ornaments, and biblical scenes. The Haggadah , the ceremonial text of the seder night, since it is only used in the home and not in the synagogue, was not subject to normative scrutiny and therefore has become the most illuminated of all Hebrew ceremonial prayer books.
Most of the illustrations are traditional, transmitted from generation to generation by folk artists, copyists, and printers. The paper cuts used for window decorations are the folk art characteristics of Shavuot. As most of them have designs of roses, symbolizing Israel cf. Song ,16, and the exegetical Midrashim thereto , they are called by the Yiddish folk term reyzele "little rose". It also calls man to repentance and spiritual regeneration. As the horn of any animal of the sheep or goat family may be used for the shofar, it has various shapes depending upon the local fauna.
While it is forbidden to embellish the shofar, either through painting, or by covering its mouthpiece with metal, it may be carved and on several old specimens inscriptions biblical sentences referring to the shofar, Ps. The traditional garb for the High Holidays is the kitel , a loose garment of white linen, reminiscent of the shroud and reminding the congregation of death and the last judgment. Generally assuming the shape of the fruit, there are also other forms.
Another kind of folk art, especially folk painting, concentrates on the decoration of the sukkah.
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Besides fruits, vegetables, and the seven "kinds" the Holy Land has been blessed with, the sukkah is also embellished with pictures, verses and proverbs, trimmings, cutouts, and other ornaments. The ornaments are mostly lions symbol of Judah , the figure of Judith holding the sword and the head of the slain Holofernes, Judah the Maccabee, cherubim, and eagles. The dreidl is an example of how foreign material was ingeniously Judaized: the original medieval dice used in Germany by gamblers was inscribed with the four letters: N, G, H , and S , which are the initials of nichts "nothing" , ganz "all" , halb "half" , and stellein "put in".
Cards were also Judaized and special "Jewish" card sets, inscribed with Hebrew letters and illustrated with "Jewish" pictures, were used. The Book of Esther is read in the synagogue from a parchment scroll megillah in a traditional chant. It has one roller, as distinct from the Torah scroll, which has two. Since the word for God does not appear in the Book of Esther artists felt free to illustrate it and it is thus the only biblical book in Judaism whose text, while in the form of a scroll, is traditionally illuminated.
The cylindrical containers for the manuscript scroll, frequently of silver, are also richly ornamented. The main themes in the Scroll of Esther illustrations are scenes from the story: Haman leading Mordecai while Haman's wife Zeresh looks on; Haman and his ten sons on the gallows, etc. As Purim is dedicated to remembering the poor, charity, and "sending portions" Esth. Usually quotations from the Book of Esther are inscribed on the plates as well as scenes from the narrative.
Here too the triumph of Mordecai is the most popular motif. Many ceremonial objects, whose origin secular or religious is often very vague, center around the synagogue and the Jewish home. The mezuzah doorpost, cf, Deut. A parchment scroll on which are sacred Pentateuchal portions, it is placed in a special metal or wood container and fixed on the upper part of the right doorpost of the house or occupied room cf. Most of the Jewish sages and rabbinic authorities did not approve of amulets being worn for purposes of protection against sickness, the " evil eye ," and misfortune, and condemned the "magic" texts placed inside the amulet as non-Jewish superstition.
The amulet could however be worn as an ornament, and it was particularly common among the Jewish population of the Mediterranean countries and of the Islamic culture areas. The ornaments on these amulets were often of a purely religious nature priestly crowns, the tablets of the law, seven-branched candlestick which did not hint at the protective qualities of the ornament. The prayer book links the Jewish home, where it is usually kept as a family treasure, and the synagogue, where it is mainly used.
The covers and bindings, often made of silver, gilded, or engraved, and inscribed with a biblical quotation and the owner's name or initials, are the prayer book's main adornments. Since the synagogue is compared to "… a little sanctuary in the countries" Ezek. All objects associated with the Temple and the Torah were particularly cherished: the ark is ornamented with the two tablets of the Law, often wrought with inscriptions, rampant lions, and priestly blessing hands, etc.
The Jewish folk dress and costume are part of the secular folk culture, if it is assumed that the origin of dress has its roots in man's desire to adorn himself. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash , vol. Most data about Jewish costumes of the past were gleaned from illustrated minhagim books or illuminated Haggadot , anti-Jewish Christian pamphlets, and travelers' accounts. Until the establishment of the State of Israel and the "ingathering of the exiles" from the various culture areas, the main interest of Jewish art "scholars" centered around ceremonial art and European specimens.
Thus the first Jewish museums established in Germany end of the 19 th century contained less than one percent of non-European material. With the growth of Jewish ethnography, the intensive study of folklore, sociology, and acculturation of the "tribes of Israel," and the establishment of specific ethnographic and folklore museums in Haifa and Tel Aviv there has been a rapid increase of interest in secular Jewish folk art in general, and in that of the non-European Jewish communities in particular. The folk museum collections and their various inventory and exhibition catalogs are still the most important source of knowledge of Jewish folk art in the past.
These are often verified and substantiated by the testimonies of eyewitnesses or recollections of those who can delve into their own past or have memories of what they were told. Folk beliefs and customs constitute one creative complex. Belief, stemming from subconscious fears and desires and from a longing for psychological security, generates the wish to fight the causes of those fears which are man's hidden enemies.
The strategies and tactics of man's warfare against his own fears which proved their "efficiency" and were transmitted usually approved by social convention from one generation to the next became folk customs. The customs continued to exist even after the beliefs that served as their basis had long been forgotten. Sometimes beliefs which have become detached from the customs that grew out of them, or from the phenomena which they explain, are regarded by the "progressive" society as "superstitions," due to changes in the society's view of the world and to a new interpretation of the phenomena in question.
The novel explanation is in tune with the technological era whose society is fighting the old "superstitions" and "etiological folktales" lacking empirical proof. Any period of transition, whether renewal and change of status in the cycle of the year the summer and winter solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, etc. These crises give rise to customs andrites which evolve in order to overcome the evil forces hostile to mankind that these crises seemed to set into motion. Thus ritual complexes, ceremonies, and festivals develop. According to this interpretation the Jewish rites of passage in the life and year cycles manifest an interaction between universal beliefs, stemming from the realm of nature, and Jewish religious and national beliefs originating in the sphere of Jewish thinking and culture.
The customs revolving around these rites would thus be rooted mainly in sympathetic magic which gradually adopted its Jewish character, mainly from the historical traditions related to the period of the nation's consolidation. Folkloristic research into Jewish customs and the folk beliefs underlying them therefore involves a study of their universal "prehistory" and their "Judaized" history. In universal practice the pouring of water on a stone, a sympathetic magic device to ensure rain and with it the fertility of the earth, animals, and mankind, is paralleled by a ritual performance of the sexual act.
Most of the folk beliefs and customs concentrate on the life and year cycles and are usually considered according to these two groupings. Another category includes beliefs and customs not associated directly with one of the cycles — folk medicine , social beliefs, and social customs. The beliefs and customs which center around the Jew's life cycle, constituting the Jewish rites of passage, and around the general year cycle, comprising the Sabbath and the festivals, have throughout the ages undergone the same process of adoption and adaptation as other aspects of Jewish folklore.
The customs and their underlying folk beliefs discussed below are considered mostly from the point of view of their origin and function.
Sections in this entry
The classification is according to their primary nature and to their similarity to the practices of hostile confrontation extant in prehistoric societies and in primitive intertribal warfare. Hostile confrontation may thus be divided into three main types: 1 direct face-to-face combat; 2 compromise agreement and treaty ; 3 deceptive stratagem. Jewish literature never associates ta'amei minhagim Jewish folk customs and normative customs with their primitive and universal origin which gave rise to the magical elements inherent in them.
Only customs of other peoples, usually pagan — neighboring culture or those rejected and fought against — are called magical and superstitions darkhei Emori , "the Ways of the Amorites". As the existence of demons was presupposed, even in Jewish normative legislation cf. This holds especially true in culture areas where the belief in evil spirits, which are hostile to mankind, was deeply rooted among the non-Jewish neighbors. Some of the means with which spirits may be combated are specific colors white, red light, sound, and objects iron, salt.
Demons usually dwell in dark places, ruined buildings Ber. They shun the light and therefore act at night. The Talmud cf. Similarly, the wedding, as well as other festive processions, was accompanied with torches and candles because of envying and hostile spirits. The Jewish traditional explanation cf. Sperling, Ta'amei ha-Minhagim , p. A national modification of this wedding custom may be seen in the Jewish-Italian custom recorded at Pesaro and Modena cf.
Kaufmann, in rej, 24 , ; Gaster, The Holy and the Profane , where the bridegroom used to be accompanied by a man carrying a torch to which were attached six more lights, three on each side of the main flame. The allusion is to the seven-branched menorah in the Tabernacle and Temple, giving the wedding a Jewish-national character. Spirits may be confronted with a white object since the color white frightens them away.
This notion gave rise to many customs; for example, the white garments of the bride and bridegroom. The Jewish explanatory tradition, which regards the white nuptial attire as a symbol of innocence and penitence cf. Sperling, no. Cicero, De Legibus , — "White is the color most acceptable to gods". The Roman custom harks back to the more ancient folk belief.
The Jewish explanation associating the wedding day, a day of joy, with that of death, when the deceased is buried in white shrouds, is also a late interpretation Kolbo no. The custom of dressing the dead in white was common in ancient Greece cf. Pausanias , but there the white was to guard the dead against the powers of darkness and not a means of purification and a sign of penitence. The universality of the usage Gaster, op, cit. Spirits may be frightened away by sound. Their abodes cloaked in eternal silence cf.
Much of the ritual and secular music performed at the various "crises" in a man's life cycle and in the natural year cycle stem from the belief that sound is a magic means to ward off demons cf. Even some of the nonsense words in Jewish children's rhymes cf. Another universal weapon directed against demons is iron. Spirits were thought to live in caves, mountains, and under stones, which "are cut by iron" cf. Pieces of iron sometimes even a real weapon — a sword, a dagger, or a simple knife are thus placed in the bed or under the pillow of a woman in confinement and later in the child's cradle.
Kirchner's childbed scenes in Juedisches Ceremoniel , a sword is prominently displayed beside the bed. The circumcision knife especially is regarded as an effective weapon against demons. According to folk belief the night before the circumcision is the most critical for a mother and child, and a vigil, a "night of watching" Yiddish: vakhnakht , is usually observed. The circumcision knife is often kept under the mother's pillow throughout the night. The common usage of the sword as a real weapon against invisible demons Gaster, op.
Gaster, is one of the most famous and oldest Jewish collections of inscriptions of charms. In the folktales of Kurdistan Jews and in other Central Asian Jewish legends, the heroes go on quests to find the sword of Moses with which the redemption may be hastened cf. Noy, Sippurim mi-Pi Yehudei Kurdistan , 44—47, 59—60 and the aggadic details on the magic sword of Methuselah, in Ginzberg, Legends, 5 , f. In Afghanistan the iron sword is replaced by a cane called "Elijah's staff," cf.
Yeda-Am , 25 , 64 not only because the Jews were forbidden to use swords but also to give a Jewish character to universal magic objects. Iron is also used as a direct weapon to combat demons during the tekufah the solstice or the equinox when, according to folk belief, the waters may be poisoned by a drop of blood spilt by evil spirits from above cf. Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition , , no. Pieces of iron are placed on all vessels containing water and kept in the house to avert this danger.
In Jewish lore the use of iron Sperling, loc. Another explanation Yesod Emunah , p. Salt, a symbol of mortality, is also an effective "weapon with which demons may be repulsed" cf. Other means to ward off demons and evil spirits are such symbols of life, health, and regeneration as herbs, honey, and oil.
These usually play an important role as magic objects in folktales cf. Thompson Motif Index , vol. Some of the demons are identified by name. She also represents the "dream girl" who consorts with men in their sleep; because she is not impregnated through the sexual dream, the embittered and frustrated spirit takes her revenge upon the lawful wife and mother. In Jewish legend she was the first wife of Adam but after a quarrel deserted him. She was, however, overpowered by three angels Sinoi, Sinsinoi, Samengelof sent by God to bring her back, and she never enters a house in which their names are written.
This story, with its emphasis on the three names, is found in most of the written or printed Hebrew amulets known in Western countries as the kimpettsetl corruption of the German Kindbettzettel , "childbed-charm" which were hung in the lying-in chamber. Another kind of kimpettsetl is called Shir ha-Ma'alot "Song of Ascents" , because it contains Psalm including verse 6, "The sun shall not smite thee by day, neither the moon by night" , which is one of the verses of the Shir ha-Ma'alot of the Book of Psalms chs.
Many Jewish customs go back to the notion that the vital and essential can be preserved by giving up the marginal and less important. In many cases the original offering sacrifice , intended to appease demons, became highly institutionalized religious customs and rites in which God's or his representatives' holiness and superiority is acclaimed and exalted cf.
Similarly, the custom of shaving a bride's head may also be explained as a sacrifice of a part in order to keep and to protect the whole. In many cultures, hair is regarded as a life index Thompson, Motif Index , d , e , 12 which possesses an independent soul and is the seat of the vital spirit cf.
The belief in the magic power of hair as the seat of man's "life force" may have given rise to the taboos on cutting hair during the first year or three years of an infant's life, and the shearing of pe'ot sidecurls. Many customs stem from the notion that a wise and learned man can deceive the demons, who are stronger but more stupid than mankind, and thus gain the upper hand in a struggle with them. While in most customs the change is merely that of the name, this may exercise a profound influence on the person's ego, personality, character, and destiny.
Meaningful changes of name often foreshadow the course of human destiny and reflect cosmic changes, evidence of which is already found in the Bible Abraham and Sarah, Gen. In a talmudic story Yoma 83b Rabbi Meir refused to pass the night in an inn because the innkeeper's name, Kidor, was homonymic to a "negative" verse in the Bible Deut. A divine decree may be altered by changing a person's name.
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The well-attested custom of changing a sick person's name in order to bring about his speedy recovery cf. The evil forces may also be deceived by "selling" sick children to others so that they assume the buyer's name see mgjv, 5 , The naming of the newborn child after a strong beast, a lion aryeh or a bear dov , or a harmful animal, the bee devorah , is also in many ways meant to deceive the evil spirit who is thus frightened away.
Many of the naming practices bestowing theophoric names or the name of a relative who passed away, so that the original name bearer may protect the newborn stem both from the deceptive and from the compromising concepts. The compromise basis to the custom denotes homage to the supernatural forces as an inducement for their protection and to pacify and appease them through tributes. Customs relating to sympathetic magic and contagious magic stem from a combination of the compromise and the deceptive trends.
Thus by imitating the deeds of a supernatural power man admits its superiority and through his imitation pays tribute to the spirit. At the same time man incites the evil forces to act in his favor by challenging their power of action. The foolish spirits in trying to prove themselves play into man's hands. Compromise and deceptive elements are also basic to the use of magic objects through which attempts are made to cause transformations in nature or in man. Man in using an object part of an animal, plant, etc. On the other hand, he often uses his newly acquired power to combat the spirits from whom his own power now emanates.
Many devices have thus been invented to overcome sterility and barrenness presumably imposed on man by malevolent supernatural forces who are strong enough to prevent sexual intercourse from resulting in conception. Plants or animals which were thought to have fertilizing properties were commonly used as aids to conception. Among the plants eaten were mandrakes and apples; the most popular animals were cocks and fish. Remedies such as touching a woman already with child, swallowing the foreskin of a newly circumcised infant, drinking the water with which a corpse has been washed thereby transferring to the womb some of the life which has departed from the dead , and crawling under a gestating mare are based on contagious magic.
They presuppose man's admission of the superiority of the object which originates from supernatural forces. These cures for barrenness collected from Jewish informants, cf. Patai, "Jewish Folk-cures for Barrenness" in Folklore , vol. In general folk culture and beliefs, the mandrake, for example, is regarded as a peculiarly potent aphrodisiac and, as such, it is referred to in the Bible Gen. Similarly the meat of fish was thought to induce fertility because of its pronounced philoprogenitive tendencies cf.
Crawling under a mare was a means through which a woman could absorb some of the fertility of the mare which gestates for ten months. Besides Judaized explanations and interpretations, there are many magic objects which are peculiarly Jewish. The sight of the ritual circumcision knife or a bowl of water placed under Elijah's chair at the circumcision ceremony drives spirits away.
In folk medicine water in which the kohanim washed their hands before blessing the congregation, especially on the Day of Atonement , is a powerful cure for barrenness and other misfortunes. A uniquely Jewish practice or its explanation may sometimes have linguistic origins. Many general practices are Judaized merely by the use of Hebrew usually biblical verses , the holy tongue, which is believed to be the language of the Creator and the heavenly hosts and as such is a potent weapon against demons. It is often used by Christians and Arabs in their incantations. A Jewish folk ceremony usually combines with many local non-Jewish magic practices and objects.
Thus, for example, among German-speaking Jews a child is given a secular name on the fourth Sabbath after birth at the Hollekreisch ceremony. The invited guests, men in the case of a male birth and women in that of a female, range themselves in a circle German Kreis around the cradle.
The baby is lifted thrice into the air while the guests call out each time Holle! The magic circle wards off Frau Holle, a succubus in German mythologywho attacks children. Midrashim and Rashi to Job and Ginzberg Legends, vol. It is also reminiscent of the concept that infants are symbolically sacrificed to the heavenly powers.
On the other hand the biblical verses from Ecclesiastes "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he go back as he came" and Job "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither" endow the lifting custom with symbolic and ethical meaning through its counterpart practice, to deposit the dead in the ground soon after death. A Jewish adaptation of a universal custom often also comprehends the national character of the Jewish people, stressing the everlasting bond between the nation and the Land of Israel.
To plant a tree at the birth of a child a cedar for a boy and a pine for a girl is a Jewish birth custom which fell into desuetude, perhaps because the people became alienated from the soil and the Land of Israel. The original universal custom stems from the general concept of the "external soul" Thompson, Motif E. This is a deceptive means whereby the hostility of the spirits may be diverted from their real targets. The Jewish interpretation stresses the Jew's roots in the Holy Land.
The specific Jewish character is also evident in the practice of placing a sachet of earth from the Land of Israel into the coffin of a Jew. The sachet serves as a substitute for actualburial in the Holy Land and ensures the earlier awakening of the dead on the Day of Resurrection. Since the resurrection will start in Zion, the buried need not roll to Zion before being resurrected.
The dead are nevertheless buried with their feet toward the East so that they may be immediately on their way to the Land of Israel after resurrection. This custom is also rooted in the basic concept of deception in which a part sanctifies the whole — pars pro toto. Judaizing tendencies exist especially with regard to customs and folk beliefs which are fundamentally contradictory to Jewish ethical teaching and thus threaten the Jewish ethnic ego. The pronounced Jewish character of betrothal and wedding ceremonies resulted from their refinement of the purely sexual relationships between man and woman.
The customs were, however, not adopted mechanically, but imbued with distinctive Jewish characteristics by incorporating Scriptures into the audio-oral prayers accompanying the rite, and in the Judaized explanation of the origin of the customs. Thus, for example, the bride and bridegroom must wear special wedding dresses and ornaments which originally were intended to protect them against evil spirits who abhor specific colors white and specific objects iron. These have however acquired symbolic and aesthetic values. The clothes worn at the wedding are usually new and appropriate to the new phase of life; the bride's veil is not meant to hide her but is reminiscent of Rebekah who "took a veil and covered herself with it" Gen.
Explanatory literature, however, invested these practices with deep ethical meaning: man should not pay attention to outer form but inner value. Similarly, the customs of strewing ashes on the bridegroom's head and the breaking the glass at the wedding ceremony, which also have origins in general folklore, were interpreted as "reminder s of the destruction of the Temple.
In Israel, modern social life, especially in the secular sector and in kibbutz society, has stimulated the formation of new customs and the adaptation of religious ceremonies to a secular society which wants to keep the traditional, national folkways. This is evident, for example, in the bar mitzvah ceremony whose religious significance in a secular society is reduced but not eliminated.
Since non-observant Jews do not "lay tefillin ," which is the most outward sign of the bar mitzvah ceremony and the Jewish initiation rite, regarding them as a remnant of an ancient religious object a kind of amulet containing scriptural verses , attempts have been made to revitalize the rite with other external symbols and the concept of tefillin has been completely eliminated. Under the initial impetus of the Reform movement, the individual ceremony has been substituted by a collective "confirmation" ceremony similar to that of the Christian rite.
As the Shavuot festival coincides with the end of the school year, the ceremony, at times, bears the character of a graduation.febsijuli.ga
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In Israel the collective bar mitzvah has been introduced in nonreligious kibbutzim. The ceremony takes place after the children have performed some task, usually socioeducational, imposed upon each individual child or pair by the community, school, or youth movement e. The bar mitzvah child then has to write a composition on his experiences. He further relates his adventures during the performance of the task at the "confirmation" and the lessons derived therefrom are discussed by the whole assembly.
The artificial character of the new folk customs, as well as that of modern Israeli dancesand folk music, is still evident. A small proportion of Jewish customs and their underlying folk beliefs are not directly connected with the annual life cycle or with the crises of passage in man's life. Among these the Jewish customs pertaining to diet, nutrition, and food including the biblical distinction between kosher and non-kosher food; the taboos of eating meat and milk together and folk medicine practices are the two most important clusters of customs.
Attempts have been made to relate them, to regard the dietary laws as part of ancient hygiene prescription, and to consider folk medicine and food customs as means of overcoming anxieties and fears. Folk beliefs and practices remedies for the prevention and cure of diseases have been transmitted by Jewish communities from generation to generation, even where there were normative medicine and physicians. The Bible recommends the use of the mandrake to produce fertility Gen. No decisive differentiation existed between the various ways of ensuring health and fertility and of combating disease and death: asking the doctor's advice, praying, and using folk remedies were all curative means emanating from God, the only healer cf.
In Tobit smoked liver, heart, and the gall of a fish are recommended as a cure for casting out a demon or evil spirit. Similar practices still prevail among Kurdish and Persian Jews and are indicative of the antiquity of many of the accepted folk cures. Evidence of the widespread use of folk medicine in Palestine and Babylonia during the early centuries c. Magic practices and amulets received a Jewish "touch" through the use of biblical verses and by stressing the efficacy of relevant psalms.
The tertian fever, for example, was to be cured with an amulet consisting of seven sets of seven articles hung around the neck Shab. Amulets were also used against epilepsy Shab. The concept that a cure may be effected by transferring the disease to animals, found so frequently in general folk medicine, is also present in Jewish folk medicine. According to talmudic sources the patient was recommended to go to a crossroad, pick up the first ant with a burden that he saw, and place it in a copper tube which was to becovered with lead and sealed.
Immediately after the war, there had even been calls for the removal of the discipline from the academic curriculum. Any political baggage which it may have been given to carry since then has been derived generally more from class-conscious and anti-elitist thinking than from narrow-minded, simplistic nationalism. If one wants to understand both the power and the vulnerability of the German Volk therefore, English folk is not a good starting point because it is likely to puzzle and confuse rather than clarify.
In this respect, it is also significant that several of the Departments or Institutes of Volkskunde in German universities have in the post-war years changed their names. It takes a considerable amount of temporal distance to create an atmosphere conducive to a constructive intellectual confrontation of such a phenomenon as the coercive, starry-eyed but morally brutalising take-over and conversion of a whole discipline and the materials it studies for the purposes of political advancement and cultural subversion. Evem when much water has flowed under the bridge, objectivity has become a slippery commodity and the emotional response to appalling horror and academic debasement, intermingled with the seduction of good minds and of personal tragedy the folksong scholar Kurt Huber was shot in keeps simmering under the surface.
The authors whose articles are included in this volume know this, and it is to be regarded as an act of courage on their part rather than of defensiveness that they have been prepared to tackle problems caused by an as yet mostly unaddressed past.