This entry is arranged according to the following outline:
AUDIO-ORAL TRANSMISSION (FOLK LITERATURE)
MYTH ("A" MOTIFS)
ANIMAL TALE (AT 1–199)
ORDINARY TALE (AT 300–749)
RELIGIOUS TALE (AT 750–849)
THE NOVELLA OR ROMANTIC FOLKTALE (AT 850–999)
REALISTIC TALE (AT 1200–1999)
Folk Song (Lyrics)
RELIGIOUS FOLK SONGS AND FOLK MUSIC
SECULAR FOLK SONG
Ceremonial Life Cycle
Ceremonial Jewish Year Cycle
Varia: Synagogal and Home Ceremonial and Non-Ceremonial Objects
DECORATIONS IN THE SYNAGOGUE
FOLK DRESS AND COSTUME
Direct (Face-to-Face) Combat
Compromise (Agreement and Treaty)
Varia: Beliefs and Customs not Related to Cycles
Jewish folklore can be defined as the creative spiritual and cultural heritage of the Jewish people handed down, mainly by oral tradition, from generation to generation by the various Jewish communities. The process of oral transmission took place alongside the development of normative, written literature.
Jewish folklore may be classified according to the three main vehicles of transmission:
(1) Audio-oral, including the various branches of folk literature and folk music (discussed in the article on *Music);
(2) Visual, including arts, crafts, costumes, ornaments, and other material expression of folk culture;
(3) Cogitative, including popular beliefs, most of which find their expression in customs and practices.
The science of folklore ("folkloristics") is a discipline which studies the historic-geographic origin and diffusion of folklore institutions, their social backgrounds, functions, intercultural affinities, influences, changes, and acculturation processes and examines the meanings and interpretations of the institutions' individual components.
Folklore is not transmitted through a single medium. Most folklore combines the three categories, one of which, however, usually predominates. Thus, for example, the cogitative background of the commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt is expressed through rites, customs, and manners within the framework of the Passover festival. The main literal expression of the festival, however, the Passover Haggadah, is intertwined with audio-oral songs and legends and is recited at the seder which calls for special garb and ritual vessels, e.g., the cup of *Elijah. These constitute the visual elements of the Passover ritual which is comprised of many folk components.
The national cultural heritages of the gentile neighbors among whom the Jewish people has lived throughout its wanderings and dispersions have been assimilated into Jewish folklore. While mutual intercultural contacts are evident in many realms, Jewish folklore has certain specific features common to Eastern and Western Jews which are characteristic of the creative folk ego of the Jewish people. The Judaization and adaptation of universal traditions bear witness to the qualities, trends, and hopes of the Jewish transformers. Through a comparative study of neighboring cultures, normative Jewish religion, and folk evidence which is substantiated by the transmission of many generations and culture areas inhabited by Jews, the special character of Jewish folk tradition may be apprehended. This article is written from the viewpoint of comparative folklore, which frequently reaches conclusions and interpretations at variance with those traditionally held.
Jewish oral literature (in Hebrew and in the various Jewish languages: Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino, etc.) has been transmitted alongside the written literature, and both have exercised a mutual influence. Biblical literature (including the narrative tales in the Pentateuch, the legends interwoven into the fabric of the historical books, independent short stories such as the Books of Esther and Ruth, the gnomic (wisdom) literature, and the poetic literature) imbibed much from the oral heritage of the entire Near Eastern culture area. In sanctioning a written document (the Holy Scriptures), the sages differentiated between the holy writings and traditions which were regarded as *Oral Law. Exodus 34:27, "… for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee…," was interpreted as (Git. 60b): "That which is by word of mouth, thou shalt not commit to writing." It was only with the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt (135 C.E.), and the authoritative decision taken in the generation of Rabbi Akiva and his pupils, that the prohibition of committing to writing the oral traditions was revoked. The talmudic-midrashic literature of the tannaim and the amoraim is a mine of information of ancient Jewish folklore (mainly in Aramaic, which was then the spoken language of the people) handed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years before it was formulated. Rich folkloric material has also been preserved in postbiblical literature which was not transmitted in Hebrew: the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the works of Philo and Josephus, the New Testament, and the writings of the Church Fathers.
The various genres of Jewish folk literature are (1) folk narrative, including folktales, legends, jokes, and anecdotes transmitted mainly by word of mouth; (2) folk songs, usually performed or directed by a folk singer, whose music or musical interpretation has the approval and social sanction of the audience and whose text, music, and often gestures (handclapping) and folk dance movements constitute an integral whole between whose components it is hard to distinguish;
The main kinds of universal folk narratives are also extant in the Jewish oral tradition, though the quantitative proportion between the various kinds differs in comparison with the respective proportion in the neighboring non-Jewish cultural areas. Thus the didactic story, and not the magic tale, is dominant in the Jewish folk narrative; similarly the legend in Jewish lore is a much more popular vehicle of expression than in general folklore.
Folk narrative research in recent decades has, by and large, solved the main classification problems through index systems subscribed to by folklorists. Those systems are general and ethnic (local): type indices and motif indices which are appended to the folktale (Maerchen), legend (Sage), myth, and humorous lore of various cultural areas. Thus the genres of Jewish folk narrative should be defined and described according to the accepted general division, mainly based on Aarne-Thompson's (AT) Type-Index and on Stith Thompson's Motif-Index:
Myths constitute the imaginative answers to man's queries about the universe (cosmogony and cosmology), the creation and ordering of human and animal life, his own past, etc. They are basically etiological folktales which try to explain various life and nature phenomena and their plot is set in the remote past, at the beginning of creation. The main heroes are supernatural beings (gods, demigods, and cultural heroes) who perform supernatural deeds.
Most of the biblical narratives may, by this definition, be regarded as ancient Hebrew myths which, even after they became part of the "Written Law," continued to influence Jewish legendary lore, although most of the etiological elements were suppressed or omitted by normative monotheistic Judaism. The narrative elements in the Bible should be analyzed in the light of the rich repertoire of ancient Near Eastern mythological texts. Archaeological discoveries, text collections, and studies on the ancient cultures and religions of the Near East (T.H. Gaster, S.H. Hooke, E.O. James, S. N, Kramer, J.B. Pritchard, G. Widengren, and others) have shed fresh light not only on ancient Hebrew oral literature, its transmission through storytelling, and on the prebiblical dissemination of its narrative elements, but on ancient Hebrew folk religion, folk life, folk culture, and on the diffusion of their components.
C.H. Gordon's thesis that "Greek and Hebrew civilizations are parallel structures built upon the same Eastern Mediterranean foundation," stressing the Mediterranean diffusion by different oral vehicles, has not been accepted by biblical scholarship. The premise of general oral relationships between the Jewish and the Greco-Roman oral lore during the Hellenistic and talmudic periods serves as a basis for any comparative approach to the myths as preserved in the apocryphal, pseudepigraphic, and talmudic-midrashic literatures. Many etiological motifs in later Jewish folktales are remnants of ancient myths. In most cases they sanction newly invented or imported and Judaized customs, by stressing their antiquity and dating their origin and first observance to the creation, Noah's ark, the patriarchs, etc. Thus, for example, a midrashic etiological tale (PdRE 20) relates the custom of looking at the fingernails during the Havdalah ceremony (Sh. Ar., OḤ 298:3) to Adam, who, endowed with God-like wisdom, brought down fire and light from heaven. The resemblance between this legend and Greek (Prometheus) and cognate myths on the origin of fire (Motif A 1414) by means of theft – a culture hero steals it from its owner (Motif A 1415) – is evident (Ginzberg, Legends, vol. 5,113 n. 104). Similarly, most of the prevailing Jewish etiological stories explaining the origins of fascinating and strange phenomena and of established customs lacking authoritative, written explanations, are elaborated biblical narratives which are based on universal mythical concepts. The process is also manifest in European folklore. Thus the original midrashic story (Tanḥ, Noaḥ 13; Gen. R. 36:3–4; cf. Ginzberg, loc. cit., 190 n. 58) of Noah planting the vineyard with the help of Satan was transformed in European folklore into a typical etiological tale explaining the characteristics of wine (Motif A 2851). Its four qualities, as well as those of the drunken man, stem from the characteristic traits of the four animals sacrificed by Satan while planting the vineyard: the lamb, the lion, the monkey, and the pig. In Jewish and non-Jewish variants of the story some of the above animals are replaced by the peacock, the billy goat, etc. Unlike most of the non-Jewish variants, which are of an etiological character and not of a moralistic nature, the Jewish variants are didactic, severely condemning intoxication – the cause of all sins and the ruin of individuals.
Many of the literary and oral Jewish fables were originally actual animal tales which reflected imaginative contemporaneous views on animal and plant life. (Animal tales which serve to illustrate daily life and to solve actual contemporary problems are transformed into moral fables by the added moral lesson.) The animal tale as an independent narrative genre is at present alive only among Jewish Oriental raconteurs, but even there it is based on the talmudic-midrashic fable and the beasts represent human traits. The main heroes are the lion and the serpent; usually human beings are also involved. The fox from whom the talmudic-midrashic name of the genre, "fox fables," is derived, does not play an important role.
These stories are centered around supernatural beings who possess extraordinary knowledge
Jewish raconteurs were both writers and disseminators of folktales:
Some of the best-known universal folktales are assumed to be of Jewish origin. Folktales were derived from Jewish written sources: thus the story of King Solomon's judgment (I Kings 3:16–28) influenced the cycle of folk stories about clever acts and words (AT 920–929) and the Tobias story influenced the "Grateful Dead" cycle (AT 505–508). In many cases the Jewish origin at first is not obvious and has been suggested only after penetrating analysis (Anderson, Goebel), for example (a) AT 331, "The Spirit in the Bottle": a man frees an evil spirit imprisoned in a bottle, but instead of receiving the promised reward he is endangered by the spirit whom he then tricks back into the bottle (cf. Grimm no. 99); (b) AT 332, "Godfather Death": Death endows a poor man, or his son, with the power to forecast how a sick person will fare according to the position of Death at the bedside, whether he is standing at the head or foot of the bed; Death is tricked, but avenges himself (cf. Grimm no. 44); (c) AT 922, "The King and the Abbot": a shepherd substitutes for the priest and answers the king's questions (cf. Grimm no. 152); and many other tales focusing on religious problems (see below, Religious Tale); on cleverness: wit ("outwitting the witty"), humor, answering riddles, performing great feats, and being put to severe tests; and on wise conduct.
The main Jewish contribution to the folktale was in the diffusion and dissemination of narratives from the East to the West. According to Thompson (cf. The Folktale, p. 17) the stories were brought by Jewish merchants from the East to Europe and became known first to the Jewish communities scattered throughout Europe.
Disciplina Clericalis (about 1110), a Latin work by Petrus Alphonsi, contains the earliest Eastern folktales in Western literature. Alphonsi, whose Hebrew name before his conversion to Christianity was Moshe Sefardi, was well versed in Eastern and Jewish traditional lore. The motifs in his work are found not only in medieval European folklore, but also in international narrative folklore (still extant today).
Medieval Jewish scholars translated *Kalila and Dimna and Sindbad into European languages, the oral translations for narrating purposes preceding the literary written translations (see *Fiction). According to B.E. Perry the Book of Sindbad (*Sindabar) originated in Persia from which it passed to India and was assimilated into the rich Hindu folk literature. Leading folklorists of the 19th century (following Benfey) considered India to be the home of the European folktale. Modern scholarship however has shown that a direct chain of oral and written transmission links the Middle (including Persia) and Near East with Europe and that Jewish translators and storytellers were the main transmitters of Eastern (Islamic) culture to the Christian world. In modern scholarship there is full agreement between scholars of literature, both Jews (Epstein, Flusser, Peri, Schwarzbaum) and non-Jews (Holbek, Maeso, Quinn, Thompson), that Near Eastern folklore may have reached Europe directly through Jewish intermediaries and was not transmitted via India.
Playing a most important role among Jewish folktales, the two main themes of the religious tale are theodicy ("God's justice vindicated") and reward and punishment. Several of the widespread universal religious folktales are of Jewish origin; among the best known are AT 759, "The Angel and the Hermit," which is representative of the theodician tale, and AT 757, "The King's Haughtiness Punished" or "The King in the Bath," which exemplifies the reward and punishment theme. In AT 759 an angel commits many seemingly unjust acts which arouse deep astonishment and strong words of protest from his companion the hermit; the hermit, however, upon learning the truth is convinced that each of the strange deeds was just. In many Jewish "legendarized" versions of AT 759 God, or the Prophet Elijah, plays the role of the angel, whereas the companion who learns his lesson ("The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice," Deut. 32:4) is a hero in Jewish legend concerned with social justice: Moses (cf., Moses addressing God in Ex. 32:32 "Blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book"), *Joshua b. Levi, or Abraham *Ibn Ezra. Folktales starting with the hero's (a ḥasidic rabbi) enigmatic smile, whose significance is revealed as the plot unravels, also belong to this pattern of theodician tales.
In AT 757 a supernatural being (demon, angel, Elijah) takes the boasting king's place (or form) either by depriving him (in the bath) of his clothes or through other means. The wandering king (Solomon, Roderigo, Jovinian) is humiliated and rejected by all as a crazy liar; he is restored to the throne only when he repents of his haughtiness. According to Varnhagen this folktale is of Hindu origin, but the talmudic-midrashic Asmodeus-Solomon legend (Git. 68b; TJ, Sanh. 2:6, 20c; PdRK 169a) has influenced most of the Jewish oral versions.
The anonymous, often innocent, simpleton, around whom many religious tales originally centered, tends to be replaced by a historical, famous (talmudic, medieval, or local) sage, martyr, or scholar. The tales thus became part of the Jewish hagiographic lore. In their transitory stage many of the folktales are about one of the *Lamed-Vav Ẓaddikim, the 36 anonymous and mysterious pious men, to whose humility, just deeds, and virtues the world owes its continued existence.
The novella in Jewish lore stresses the problem of fate. As marriages are decided in heaven (Gen. R. 68:3–4; Lev. R. 8:1), even before
Best known and the most widespread among the Jewish folklore genres, the realistic tale is mostly comprised of jokes and anecdotes depicting the comic aspects of life, especially as seen through Jewish eyes. The main heroes are fools, wits, misers, liars, beggars, tricksters, and representatives of various professions. The point of the Jewish joke, seemingly concluding it, is often followed by a "hyperpoint" – some clever and sophisticated addition to the humorous story, stressing a new, often specific Jewish aspect. Though the humorous motifs are universal, there is less of visual (situational) humor in Jewish jokes than in universal jests, and there is more of verbal humor, consisting of clever retorts, wordplay, "learned" interpretations of words and sentences, jests, and witty noodle stories. In most Jewish jokes the realistic background is typically Jewish, as are the heroes – well-known local wags (Hershele *Ostropoler, Motke Habad, Froyim Greydinger, Jukha, etc.) whose fame has spread far beyond the border of their original place of activity. There are also "wise" places as, for example, *Chelm in Poland, Linsk (Lesko) in Galicia, etc., whose "wise" inhabitants (in fact, fools) perform the same deeds as their "wise" colleagues – the inhabitants of Abdera (Greece), Schildburg (Germany), Gotham (England), and other "cities of the wise."
Among the droll characters of the Jewish jokes, typical "Jewish" professions and types of socioeconomic failures are well represented: schnorrers ("beggars"), shadḥanim ("matchmakers"), cantors, preachers, but mostly schlemiels and schlimazels. Social misfits, their gawkishness, clumsy actions, and inability to cope with any situation in life make the listener enjoy his own superior cleverness (the feeling is often subconscious). A witty folk-saying distinguishes between the two characters: "A schlemiel is a man who spills a bowl of hot soup on a schlimazel." Whereas the word schlimazel seems to be a combination of the German word schlimm ("bad") and the Hebrew word mazal ("luck"), the origin of schlemiel is obscure and has given rise to many German-Yiddish folk etymologies. It is first mentioned outside of Yiddish in Adalbert von Chamisso's famous German story Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (1813) whose hero sold his shadow to the devil. Many Jewish stories try to identify these types; stories are thus told about Moyshe Kapoyr ("Moses Upside-Down") – the hero of a comic strip in U.S. Yiddish newspapers in the early 1920s – and about similar heroes who are placed in a definite geographic-historical framework. Many of Shalom Aleichem's folk types, Tevye the Milkman and Menahem Mendel, have been given the traits of an irrepressible daydreaming schlimazel. Benyamin the Third, a character out of the world of Mendele Mokher Seforim, is similarly portrayed.
The undertone of sadness and frustration underlining many Jewish jokes is probably rooted in the ceaseless struggle for survival in an anti-Jewish society; the laughter is thus often through tears. While the jokes and anecdotes carry a note of satirical (sometimes even biting) self-criticism, they are a means of consolation as well, either through minimizing troubles and hoping for a happy end ("a Jew will find his way out"; "the troubles of many are half a consolation"), or by relating stories about rich, successful, and influential Jews (the Rothschilds, Baron Hirsch, and Jewish dignitaries "a (person) close to the (royal) court," etc.), with whom the poor Jewish listeners identify.
Many Jewish folktales bear an exclusively Jewish national religious character, and their plot has no parallel in general folklore. They include stories about the Ten Lost Tribes living in their own Jewish independent kingdom on the other side of the miraculous river *Sambatyon, and about travelers who have been there (*Eldad Ha-Dani, David *Reuveni, etc.); stories of attempts to find the Ten Lost Tribes and to identify them in remote parts of the world, especially among strange Jewish communities (the *Bene Israel, *Beta Israel, *Khazars); tales of blood libels and other false anti-Jewish accusations; imaginative descriptions of the Messianic age and attempts to hasten the coming of the Redeemer (through kabbalistic means, by prompting Elijah the Prophet to herald the Messiah); stories about the eternal longing for and aspiration to get to the Promised Land (through a miraculous subterranean passage, by "the jump of the way," etc.); tales about proselytes and the extraordinary circumstances of their conversion to Judaism.
The legendary plot, which usually takes place in a definite period and in a specified place, dominates Jewish folk fiction. Besides an extension of the biblical and the talmudic midrashic story, mainly through translating it in terms of contemporaneous circumstances of the storytelling society (by means of many anachronisms), this type includes many local legends. Its heroes are universal-Jewish characters (biblical, talmudic, and medieval: Elijah the Prophet, King Solomon, Rabbi Akiva, Maimonides, and Rashi) and local figures (*Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal) of Prague, R. Ḥayyim Pinto of Morocco, Abdallah Somekh of Baghdad, R. Shalem Shabazi of Yemen, etc.). The dominant narrative motif is supernatural: the miraculous salvation of a Jewish community by the folk hero who is a sage not only versed in the Bible, Talmud, and Jewish law, but can also perform miracles and is learned in practical Kabbalah. Over the past few generations, some of the local heroes have become universal Jewish heroes, such as R. *Israel b. Eliezer Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the ḥasidic movement, who initially was legendary in Eastern Europe only; and R. Ḥayyim b, Attar ("Or ha-Ḥayyim"), whose legend originated in Morocco where he was born, and about whom legends were also woven in Jerusalem where he died. Certain heroes have become narrative stereotypes: King Solomon is the wise judge; Hershele Ostropoler, "the learned
The Jewish legendary folk hero is depicted as a pious and righteous man who "does justly and loves kindness" (cf. Micah 6:8) and his folk biography thus follows the international pattern (miraculous birth, dangerous exposure, growth in an alien environment, unintentional revelation of divine qualities, etc.). There are many common motifs between Jewish folk legends and tales revolving around biblical and aggadic exemplary heroes: Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The hero's good and "hearty" intention (kavvanah) are of utmost importance ("God requires the heart"), and he is therefore "holy" enough to perform (even willingly) miracles for the sake of the needy and oppressed. Many medieval legends which originated in Jewish oral tradition, as for example tales about a Jewish pope (Elhanan), or the *Golem of Prague, etc., have not survived in this medium, but since the end of the 19th century have been incorporated in chapbooks. On the other hand, many ḥasidic wonder tales which were first written found their way to raconteurs and became an integral part of Jewish oral literature.
Songs whose lyrics are in Jewish languages and were transmitted orally from generation to generation are defined as Jewish folk songs. The classification may be according to (1) the folk language of the culture area in which the song was written (Yiddish of East Europe, Ladino of the Mediterranean area, etc.); (2) its musical style (Western, Oriental, etc.); (3) the text (contents). Most of the Jewish folk song collections and studies have adopted the last classification, yet the text of the folk song and its music are so intrinsically intertwined in Jewish folklore that no clear-cut division can be made.
The biblical books, especially the psalms and their "musical directions," influenced Jewish music, song, and dance and stressed their divine origin. The biblical names and actions associated with singing and playing music (Jubal, David playing before Saul, and his miraculous self-playing harp in the aggadah, Elisha feeling God's hand upon him while the minstrel played, the playing and singing prophets and levites, etc.) generally have a pleasant, positive connotation; thus the song (lyrics and melody) has always been part of the Jewish ritual. Throughout the ages this religious role has been extended from the limited realm of the synagogue (prayer melodies, biblical cantillation, etc.) to all aspects of Jewish religious and sociocultural life. The singing of the whole assembly strengthened the feeling of unity and of the values which were the common heritage of all Jews. Most songs of a religious nature stem from written Hebrew liturgical texts of the siddur or maḥzor. Many of them are, however, either bilingual (combining the Hebrew text and the Jewish vernacular) or sung in the vernacular only. Often the folk song expands or interprets the liturgical text. Thus, for example, the Hebrew verses of Yismaḥ Moshe are interspersed with Yiddish queries, and the song becomes a Hebrew-Yiddish dialogue whose lyrics are Yismaḥ Moshe bemattenat ḥelko. Vi hot men em gerufn? Ki eved ne'eman karata lo. Ven iz dos gevezn? Be-omedo lefaneikha al har Sinai, etc. ("Let Moses rejoice over the gift of his portion. How did they call him – A faithful servant You called him. When did this happen? When he stood before You on Mount Sinai …"). The difference between the refrain (Yismaḥ Moshe), repeated by the audience, and the single strophes, sung by individuals, is emphasized by their melodic distinction. Many of the religious and devotional folk songs, sung as a part of the *zemirot home ritual, became table songs for festive ritual meals at weddings, circumcisions, etc. They stress the close relationship between God, His Chosen People, the Torah and its precepts, and the Sabbath and festivals. As these were sung in the vernacular, all – the learned and the uneducated, young and old, women and children – could actively participate.
Although the melody of the religious folk song is strongly influenced by the artistic idiom of the *ḥazzan, the folk singers and the audience that often joined them considered the lyrics the main feature of the song. On the other hand, many sophisticated groups (especially among the ḥasidim) regarded the words (even when in Hebrew) a limitation of the divine nature of the song and stressed the value of the "pure" (without text) niggun (see *Ḥasidism, Musical Tradition). Many of the melodies, showing traces of local non-Jewish folk tunes, in their Jewish adaptation are characterized by a meditative mood. Traditional biblical cantillation motifs and later Oriental Jewish liturgies led to considerable changes in the adapted and "Judaized" folk tune, and this process was similar to that which had influenced the words.
In spite of the negative attitude of normative rabbinic Judaism toward communal secular singing by both sexes, stemming from the talmudic saying kol be-ishah ervah ("a woman's voice is a sexual incitement"), the secular folk song was part of the life of the individual, the family, and the society on many occasions. The lyrics are very diverse and cover all aspects of Jewish life: the biblical past, the Messianic future, the year cycle, the lifespan ("from the cradle to the grave"), problems of livelihood, work and frustration, social protest, national hope, love, separation, luck, and misfortune.
Texts of the East European (Yiddish) folk song have been collected (An-Ski, Beregovski, Cahan, Ginzburg-Marek, Idelsohn, Prilutski, Rubin, Skuditski), popularized (Kipnis,
Only a few collections and studies deal with the non-Yiddish, Oriental-Jewish folk song. Comparatively great attention has been paid to the folk song of the Yemenite Jews (Idelsohn, Ratzhabi, Spector) and to the romance and the copla (Spanish ballad or popular song) as sung in Ladino-speaking Sephardi communities dispersed all over the world: Tetuan, Spanish Morocco (Alvar, Armistead-Silverman, Palacin); Salonika, Greece (Attias); Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. (MacCurdy-Stanley); etc. (cf. also Avenary, Ben-Jacob, Gerson-Kiwi, Molho, Pelayo, Shiloah). The study of the Judeo-Spanish romancero ("a collection of ballads or romances"; Katz), is a very young branch of Jewish ethnomusicology (cf. *Ladino Literature).
Modern Palestinian and Israel folk songs are currently alive in Jewish folklore. The Holocaust put a tragic end to the Yiddish folk song which has become a subject for social-historical (Dvorkin), linguistic (Hrushovski), and folkloristic (Mlotek, Noy) studies, but no longer exists as a living tradition. The assimilation and emigration of Oriental Jewish communities, uprooted from their places of birth and traditional folkways, led to a similar process with regard to the Oriental-Jewish folk song transmitted in Ladino, Aramaic (by Kurdistan Jews; cf., Rivlin), and Judeo-Arabic dialects. Even if these non-Hebrew Jewish languages are still spoken by some young Jews, they are not their sole language of expression. Thus it would seem that only the Hebrew Jewish folk song, alive in a Hebrew-speaking society, is likely to survive.
The Palestinian folk song is characterized by two main traits: (1) the Hebrew lyrics; (2) the main theme, which is national. The central idea in the folk song focuses on the return of the Jewish people to their old-new homeland. The hope for the return is variously expressed and the trials and tribulations undergone are as diverse as the songs. Most of the songs were written by Palestinian authors and composers between the two world wars. Many others, dating back to the beginnings of the Jewish national revival and to the rise of the Zionist movement in 19th-century Russia, are strongly influenced by the songs of composers and bards like A. *Goldfaden and E. *Zunser. Some of the themes are: the yearning for Zion, the virtues of physical labor, self-defense, and pioneering in order to rebuild the land into a national home for the wandering Jew.
The Palestinian folk song celebrates the struggles of the young and ardent ḥalutz in his homeland: defense and standing guard (haganah and Trumpeldor songs); road building ("Hakh Pattish"); and agricultural work (Sabba Panah Oref) and love songs (Saḥaki Saḥaki Al ha-Halomot) were imbued with idealistic pathos alluding to national duties and hopes. Many of the Palestinian folk songs served as accompaniment (with or without words) to the various folk dances, The main musical influences on Palestinian folk songs (and folk dances) have been has ḥaidic-Slavic, Oriental-Sephardi, Palestinian-Arabic, and Jewish-Yemenite (*Music in Ereẓ Israel.).
The destruction of the East European Jewish communities, the establishment of the State of Israel, the War of Independence, the 1967 Six-Day War, and other heroic deeds and achievements inspired many songs, but it is doubtful whether most of these will survive either orally or in folk memory during the coming generations. The songs (see Katsherginski in bibl.) written and sung in the ghettos and extermination camps during World War II were disseminated by oral transmission over wide areas, but their lifespan was limited. In the light of the above definition of a folk song, all songs composed and popular in Israel would be called chansons or folk-styled songs (pizmonim). On the other hand, many Yiddish, Ladino, and other Jewish folk songs, which were adapted for use in Ereẓ Israel (the text translated verbally or with modifications and the music also adapted), started a new folk lifespan in their Hebrew garb.
The establishment of musical research institutes by universities in Israel and the development of the study of liturgical poetry and music into scholarly disciplines, mainly in the training centers for cantors of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hebrew Union College, and the Israel Institute for Religious Music led to the study, analysis, and elaboration of many aspects of music and song in folk traditions. Data are collected and research is being continued in the field of East European Jewish musical folklore, stressing the role of folk musicians (klezmerim) and folk jesters (badḥanim). Other aspects emphasized are the social role of folk music, the interrelationship between sacred, liturgical, and ḥasidic music and religious folk songs (Geshuri, Vinaver), the music of the various Oriental-Jewish ethnic groups and the interrelationship of Jewish and non-Jewish folk music (Gerson-Kiwi; Idelsohn's Thesaurus; Tunisia-Lachman; Sephardi-Algazi; L. Levy). Many works on Jewish music and musicians (Avenary, Gradenwitz, Fater, Holde, Idelsohn, Rabinovitch, Werner) include studies on the lyrics of the folk song and on folk music.
The influence of Jewish folk songs on Jewish and non-Jewish modern composers is still to be investigated. Jews are among the most important composers of American jazz and the Jewish folk heritage might have had a considerable effect on their compositions. Many Yiddish folk songs entered the main popular musical stream of the U.S. and are sung by leading
A gnomic statement current in tradition, the folk proverb usually suggests a course of action or passes judgment on a situation. Originally, "the wit of one," it becomes in oral folklore "the wisdom of many" and thus is part of the didactic oral folk heritage. The folk saying is genetically related to proverbial lore. Most of the Jewish proverbs have been handed down (since the Book of Proverbs and other Hebrew wisdom literature) in written collections, and in many cases the oral character of the transmitted verse is doubtful. There are however more than one hundred talmudic-midrashic proverbs (cf. Sever) which begin with the statement: haynu deamerei inshei ("this is what people say"), indicating that the saying had prevailed in oral tradition. Proverbial lore was also deeply rooted in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East and there are many parallels of single biblical proverbs found in cuneiform proverbial texts (cf. Gordon, pp. 552f.); in the Egyptian gnomic literature attributed to Amen-em-Opet; in the story (teachings) of *Ahikar; and in others which testify to the wide diffusion and the oral transmission of many biblical proverbs.
Most of the Jewish proverb collections are compilations of single statements, aphorisms, and dicta, excerpted from the talmudic-midrashic and medieval literatures, or from specific post-biblical gnomic treatises, which have been transmitted in writing. The tannaitic Avot, for example, inspired many similar compilations. The classification and arrangement of the material is mostly in alphabetic order following the first word or the "catch word" rather than the subject matter. Only in recent decades have genuine collections of folk proverbs, committed to writing from the living oral tradition of the various Jewish communities, been published. The most comprehensive among them is I. Bernstein's collection of Yiddish proverbs, followed later by paroemiological collections and studies of Ayalti, Beem (Jewish-Dutch), Einhorn, Hurwitz, Kaplan (World War II death camps and ghettos), Landau, Mark, Rivkind, Stutshkov, and Yoffie. Other culture areas and ethnic groups represented in the various proverb collections and studies are: Judeo-Arabic (Yahuda); Judeo-Spanish (Besso, Kayserling, Luna, Saporta y Beja (Salonika) Uziel, Yahuda); Bukharan (Pinhasi); Neo-Aramaic from Iraqi Kurdistan (Rivlin, Segal); North African (Attal); Samaritan (Gaster); Yemenite (Goitein, Nahum, Ratzhabi, Shealtiel); Palestinian-Hebrew as current in the new kibbutzim and villages (Halter).
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 14th-century rhymed Proverbios Morales compiled by R. Shem Tov b. Isaac (*Santob de Carrion de los Condes) for King Pedro the Cruel of Castile (1350–1369); Solomon ibn *Gabirol's Mivḥar ha-Peninim ("Choice of Pearls"), and *Samuel Ha-Nagid's Ben Mishlei (cf. the studies of Ashkenazi, Braun, Davidson, Habermann, Ratzhabi). 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." The Hebraization of the maxim "in vino veritas" (nikhnas yayin yaẓa sod, "wine entered, secret left") is based on the numerical value (gematria) of the words "secret" and "wine" (yayin, יין = (sod) 70 = סוד). 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 14:14 (Noy, Tur-Sinai, Wuensche), as well as the midrashic riddles through which the Queen of Sheba "came to test Solomon" (I Kings 10:1ff.; cf. Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1913), 145ff.; Schechter). In medieval Hebrew literature the riddle is however an independent genre and the riddles of Abraham Ibn Ezra, *Judah Halevi, and Judah *Al-Ḥarizi are sophisticated aphorisms which were never part of the living oral tradition. 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. "Catch" questions and witty queries cannot be regarded by the folklorist as folk riddles, although informants and collectors often tend to term them as such.
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,
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. Most of them adapted such Pentateuchal stories as the sacrifice of Isaac (see *Akedah) and the sale of Joseph in the light of the midrashic elaborations and interpretations of the original biblical narrative and according to folk fantasy.
Several folk plays depict postbiblical and even contemporary plots, among them the personal tragedy of Rabbenu Gershom b. Judah (Cahan, pp. 246–257), explaining why he imposed the ban on polygamy, and confrontations between Jews (merchant, innocent girl) and non-Jews (robber; cf. Lahad nos, 23–24).
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. 20:4; Deut. 5:8) imposed a taboo on plastic arts, associated in the ancient Near East mainly with idols and idol worship, it did not influence the aesthetic view of normative Judaism (see *Art). 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.
Of the four main festive occasions in the life cycle of a Jew, the wedding is the most picturesque: the marriage contract (*ketubbah) which is frequently a parchment, the bridal canopy (ḥuppah), the "good-luck" wedding goblets ("cups of blessing"), the special wedding clothes and jewelry (amulets, rings, etc.) were richly wrought with Jewish and universal love and fertility symbols, traditional images, and biblical verses. The other three life cycle ceremonies are also represented in Jewish folk art:
(1) birth, by childbirth amulets, circumcision plates, and richly ornamented circumcision objects, particularly the handle of the knife, *Elijah's chair, embroidered cushions;
(2) *bar mitzvah, through frequently engraved and decorated cases (battim) for the phylacteries and the embroidered bag for the tallit;
(3) death, through traditional attire and various special objects of the *ḥevra kaddisha including wine cups for the society's traditional annual festive meal (Seventh of Adar).
Most of Jewish ceremonial art centers around the occasions of the *Sabbath and the festivals.
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 18th 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. 24:15; Prov. 6:23; 20:27), and the wine blessing. 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. 89), has many forms. 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 table is festively set following certain prescriptive requirements: symbolic food (*maẓẓot, *maror, etc., recalling the fate of the people of Israel in Egypt and their meal on the eve of their liberation) which are served on special plates and dishes; a cloth-covered tray, or a three-tiered plate for the three matzah symbolizing the priests, levites, and common Jews; the wine cups of glass or silver used for the drinking of the obligatory four cups during the Passover meal; and a special cup, usually the most precious, the cup of Elijah. 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
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 2:2,16, and the exegetical Midrashim thereto), they are called by the Yiddish folk term reyzele ("little rose").
The main ceremonial object of the High Holidays, the *shofar has many interpretations in Jewish ritual, the most common being its role as a reminder of the sacrifice of Isaac. 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. 81:4, 5; 98:6, etc,) were found.
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. It is held together at the waist with a belt whose silver buckle is inscribed with a biblical verse relevant to the occasion or a quotation from the *Day of Atonement service.
The only significant ritualistic object used during the *Sukkot festival is the box in which the etrog is kept. 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. 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 main ritual characteristic of the eight-day Ḥanukkah festival is the kindling of lights. The Ḥanukkah lamp, containing eight oil burners or candlesticks (the shammash – the auxiliary candle – is not counted), developed in the West from a simple Roman oil lamp into very elaborate forms. Two definite types can be distinguished: (1) "the bench type," which is usually small, has a back wall, and is often richly and symbolically ornamented; (2) the standing form (candelabrum) which developed during the Middle Ages and is reminiscent of the menorah in the Temple, with the main difference that instead of seven branches, the Ḥanukkah lamp has eight (with the shammash making up the ninth). In the synagogue, the Ḥanukkah menorah is placed to the right of the ark, corresponding to the location of the golden menorah in the Temple. The smaller Ḥanukkah menorah for the Jewish home was developed from the seven-branch standing candelabrum in the synagogue, since the 18th century also adapted for the use of candles.
Many of the motifs of the richly wrought Ḥanukkah lamp are associated with the miracle of the festival: the victory of Judah the Maccabee over the Syrians ("Greeks") in 165 B.C.E, and the burning of the sacred oil in the Temple seven days longer than its actual measure, which was sufficient for one day only. 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 most common inscriptions are biblical, such as Exodus 25:37 and Proverbs 6:23, associated with the Ḥanukkah benedictions and prayers, and verses from the hymn Ma'oz Ẓur ("Mighty Rock of my Salvation").
The long nights of Ḥanukkah were ideal for games and play which, prohibited during the year (the main reason: they were a waste of time which should be devoted to the study of the Torah), were allowed on this occasion. The most popular game, especially with children, was trendl (dreidl, a top; in modern Hebrew sevivon) whose four sides were inscribed with the Hebrew letters נ, ג, ה, ש, standing for the words: נס גדול היה שם (nes gadol hayah sham, "a great miracle occurred there"; in Israel the ש is replaced by פ, the initial of פה (poh, "here")). 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"). The four Hebrew parallel letters of the dice which became sanctified have the same numerical value as that of the word "Messiah" (מָשִׁיחַ = נגהש = 358) and appropriate conclusions were consequently reached. 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.; all of them express the wishful thinking of the Jewish minority, oppressed and humiliated by many Hamans throughout the ages.
As Purim is dedicated to remembering the poor, charity, and "sending portions" (Esth. 9:19) and gifts to friends (mishlo'ah manot or Yid., shalakh munes), special plates, often made of pewter, are used for these purposes. Usually quotations from the Book of Esther are inscribed on the plates as
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. 6:9; 11:20), for example, is undoubtedly a Jewish home ceremonial object. 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. Landsberger). The mezuzah has however many of the characteristics of the *amulet intended for protection. 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.
The main synagogal ornaments and ritual objects are often part of the synagogue's architecture, Thus, for example, the laver (particularly used by the kohanim before the ceremony of blessing the congregation), often decorated, is built into the wall of the synagogue at the entrance, while the shivviti (the first word in Ps, 16:8: "I have set the Lord always before me") and mizraḥ ("East," designating the direction of prayer) are movable objects (plates or paper cutouts) hung on the wall facing Jerusalem or put on the cantor's stand which also serves as a sounding board.
The religious-ceremonial center of the synagogue is the holy *ark containing the Torah scrolls. Since the synagogue is compared to "… a little sanctuary in the countries" (Ezek. 11:16), the holy ark is reminiscent of the Holy of Holies (Kodesh ha-Kodashim) in the Temple. 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 ark's curtain is made of costly brocade, velvet, or silk, frequently inscriptively embroidered (silver and gold) with the names of the donors; the wooden or metal (silver) case in which the Torah is kept among Eastern Jews, and the Torah mantle among Western Jews, are adorned with biblical and liturgical quotations surrounded by formulistic, traditional designs (floral or the seven "kinds" the Land of Israel is blessed with).
The *Torah ornaments consist of a crown (silver, often partly gilded and set with precious stones) wrought with biblical scenes and inscribed with donors' dedications; two finials ("rimmonim," pomegranates) to which small bells are attached; the silver pointer used in the Torah reading so that the parchment is not touched by hand; a richly decorated and inscribed *breastplate denoting the occasion of the usage of the Torah for congregational reading (Sabbath, a specific festival). The two columns of the sacred portal of the ark (*Jachin and Boaz) are the main symbol that associates the ark with the ancient Temple (cf., Goldman).
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. According to the Midrash (Tanḥ. B., Lev. 76) "God's glory is man and man's glory (ornament) is his clothes" (cf. Shab. 113a, 145b; Ex. R. 18; 5; A. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash, vol. 4, p. 86);thus all Jewish ethnic groups have concentrated on a particular type of dress. Most data about Jewish costumes of the past were gleaned from illustrated minhagim books or illuminated Haggadot, anti-Jewish Christian pamphlets, and travelers' accounts. Ethnographical fieldwork on extant folk dresses of Jewish communities is a very young discipline in the realm of Jewish ethnography and folkloristics (see *Dress).
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 19th 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. While pre-World War II folk art scholarship was mainly interested in historical roots (influence of Temple objects and symbols on the *Dura Europos synagogue and on later synagogue art; relation between traditional literary sources and ceremonial art, etc.), modern ethnographers are more interested in material culture in general (including secular folk art) and in ethnocultural and geographical comparisons. 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.) or in the human life cycle (passage from embryo to child, from life to death, the first menstrual period, etc.) is always fraught with sociopsychological "crises" around which fears, anxieties, and inhibitions concentrate. 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. Judaized, the water libation rite as found in the Jewish normative books of laws and customs is a sacred ritual which was an integral part of the Sukkot celebrations (Simḥat Beit ha-Sho'evah, Feast of Water Drawing) in the Temple.
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. Thus the life-cycle "crises" in Judaism have universal-biological (*birth, coming of age, *marriage, menopause, death) and corresponding Jewish ritualistic (*circumcision, *bar mitzvah, *wedding, *burial) implications, as have the Jewish festivals and commemorative days.
The customs and their underlying folk beliefs discussed below are considered mostly from the point of view of their origin and function. 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.
Common to the three types of warfare is the belief that a person endowed with occult powers can, at propitious moments, compel and overcome supernatural, hostile, and harmful powers (*demons, mazzikim) and force their submission. 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"). However, despite the legitimation of Jewish practices through association with biblical verses, hermeneutically explained or Judaized by other means, the belief in evil spirits (see *Demons) has remained basic to Judaism, and in many folk customs their magic nature is still clearly evident. As the existence of demons was presupposed, even in Jewish normative legislation (cf. ru'aḥ in Shab. 2:5; Er. 4:1, etc.), belief in them was not limited to the uneducated classes. 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. 3a, b), at the bottom of wells (Lev, R. 24:3), caves, dark and shadowy recesses (cf., the word תֶו ָמ ְל ַצ zalmavet, originally meaning "darkness," as for example in Jer, 13:16; or in Job 12:22, interpreted as צְל מָוֶת zel mavet "shadow of death"). They shun the light and therefore act at night. The Talmud (cf. Ber. 43b) commands that a person should not walk unaccompanied in the dark, but by the light of a torch or by moonlight. 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., A.I. Sperling, Ta'amei ha-Minhagim (1957), p. 407, no. 959) gives it an exclusively Jewish character: the gematria value of the
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. Isa. 1:18), since the espoused are on the threshold of a new "chapter in life," is a relatively late and sophisticated explanation (cf. Sperling, no. 957) of the universal white, as the statutory color of festive attire (cf. Cicero, De Legibus, 2:18–45: "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. 75). The custom of dressing the dead in white was common in ancient Greece (cf. Pausanias 4:1341), 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., 11–12), however, indicates that only powers who live under the cover of darkness may be subdued by light.
Spirits may be frightened away by sound. Their abodes cloaked in eternal silence (cf. Ps. 115:17, where the dead are paralleled with "those who go down into silence"), the demons themselves are mute creatures who are scared by such an alien element as noise. 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. also the common expression learbev ha-Satan ("to confuse Satan") associated with the blowing of the shofar on the High Holidays; RH 9b). Even some of the nonsense words in Jewish children's rhymes (cf., An-Ski, Pipe, ed. by Noy) and folk songs (as, for example, "lu-lu" in the refrains of cradle songs) may go back to the ancient, non-Jewish magic incantations, pointing to the functional character of this kind of folk poetry.
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. BB 10a). 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. In P.C. Kirchner's childbed scenes in Juedisches Ceremoniel (1734), 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. Children of the ḥeder, accompanied by their rebbe, keep watch at the bedchamber and chorally chant prayers, mainly Keri'at *Shema and Jacob's blessing to Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:16). 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. cit., 3–11) led to many compendia of spells and magical formulae being entitled "the Sword" plus the name of a famous hero and wizard. Ḥarba de-Moshe ("The Sword of Moses," ed. M. Gaster, 1896) 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. D. Noy, Sippurim mi-Pi Yehudei Kurdistan (1968), 44–47, 59–60 and the aggadic details on the magic sword of Methuselah, in Ginzberg, Legends, 5 (1947), 165f.). In Afghanistan the iron sword is replaced by a cane called "Elijah's staff," (cf. Yeda-Am, 25 (1962), 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 (1961), 313, no. 12). 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. cit., no. 900) is associated with the *notarikon of the Hebrew word for iron בַּרְזֶל (BaRZeL), standing for the four mothers of the 12 tribes: Bilhah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Leah, who (and not the iron) avert all danger. Another explanation (Yesod Emunah, p. 384) changes the original text of Deuteronomy 8:9 from אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל to אֶרֶץ שֶׁבַּרְזֶל אֳבָנֶיהָ, thus adding to the notarikon the letter ש to include the two other matriarchs, Sarah and Rebekah (the ר standing both for Rachel and Rebekah).
Salt, a symbol of mortality, is also an effective "weapon with which demons may be repulsed" (cf. Ezek. 16:4; Shab. 129b). 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. 6, S.V.) and as helpful remedies in folk medicine.
Some of the demons are identified by name. Thus the child-snatching witch in Jewish folklore, *Lilith (often regarded as Satan's wife), seizes newborn babies and kills or injures
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. *circumcision, which is a direct "sign treaty" between God and man; tributes to the priests, *terumot, and to the levites, ma'aserot; etc.).
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 991, E 174, 12) which possesses an independent soul and is the seat of the vital spirit (cf. the Samson story). 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). According to ritual ("ḥalaqa") the hair is cut after a year or three and is burned; in Jewish folklore the ritual takes place usually on *Lag ba-Omer, at the grave of Rabbi Simeon bar Yoḥai in Meron.
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. Various customs are therefore aimed at effecting an artificial change in a man's identity so that he may not be recognized by evil spirits or their representatives and messengers (the *Angel of Death). 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. 17:5; Jacob, Gen. 32:29; Joshua, Num. 13:16). 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. 32:20: כּי דּוֹר תַּהְפֻּכֹת הֵמָה, ki dor tahpukhot hemmah – for they are a very forward generation, children in whom is no faith) and thus forebode trouble. A divine decree may be altered by changing a person's name. The well-attested custom of changing a sick person's name in order to bring about his speedy recovery (cf. Sefer Ḥasidim (1957), 245) is still a common practice among all Jewish ethnic groups. The evil forces may also be deceived by "selling" sick children to others so that they assume the buyer's name (see MGJV, 5 (1900), 18). 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.) which the spirits have endowed with magic power imitates the evil powers and thereby shows his humility and submissiveness. 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. 4, p. 248; idem, "Birth in Popular Custom," in Talpioth, 9 (1965), 238–260; Gaster, op. cit., p. 4), which are
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. Thus, for example, willow leaves which form part of the Hoshana Rabba rite induce conception not only because of their sympathetic magic qualities, paralleling the fertility of nature (prayer for rain) with human fertility, but because the willow (עֲרָבָה – aravah) and the word seed (זֶרַע – zera) have the same numerical value (277).
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! Kreisch! and while appropriate biblical verses are recited. The magic circle wards off Frau Holle, a succubus in German mythologywho attacks children. (Jewish folk etymology associates the word Kreis either with קרא, "call" or קרע, "tear.") The lifting is a survival of the concept that newborn babies must also be delivered from the womb of Mother Earth who gave birth to Adam, the first man (Gen. 2:7) and from which, according to folk legends, children emerge (cf. Midrashim and Rashi to Job 5:23 and Ginzberg Legends, vol. 5, page 50 note 148). 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 5:14 ("As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he go back as he came") and Job 1:21 ("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 two trees were cut down at marriage and used in the construction of the ḥuppah or bridal bower (cf. Git. 57a). The original universal custom stems from the general concept of the "external soul" (Thompson, Motif E. 710) which associates the life of man with some far-away object. 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. Nevertheless the Jewish rites of marriage have throughout the ages in all the culture areas where Jews have lived been accompanied by popular general practices aiming to ward off the evil spirits who envy man and want to abort his propagation (see *Lilith). 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. 24:65) when she first met Isaac, and is a sign of modesty. The customs of shaving the bride's head before going to the ḥuppah (and wearing a sheitl (wig)), and of her limping like an animal so as to seem blemished were originally intended to deceive the jealous spirits by showing them an ugly person not worth fighting for. Explanatory literature, however, invested these practices with deep ethical meaning:
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. This takes place at the *Shavuot festival, chosen because it is the traditional date of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and consequently the proper season for adolescent boys and girls to celebrate their initiation into full Jewish adulthood. As the Shavuot festival coincides with the end of the school year, the ceremony, at times, bears the character of a graduation. 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.g., a week's stay in a new settlement with a newcomer's family in order to help them; or in a religious yeshivah in order to learn Jewish ways strange to them). 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. These attempts, as well as the endeavors to introduce new agricultural festivals of a secular nature: Ḥag ha-Gez ("the Feast of Sheepshearing"), Ḥag ha-Keramim ("the Feast of the Vineyard," a "renewal" of the ancient Tu be-Av festival) have not been functioning long enough to become an integral and crystallized part of renewed or newly invented Jewish socio-cultural folkways, even in a limited segment of Jewish society. 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. 30:14). 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. Ex. 15:26). In Tobit (6:78) 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.E. can be found in talmudic-midrashic literature. 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. 67a). Amulets were also used against epilepsy (Shab. 61a); these were later sanctified and Judaized through biblical inscriptions. 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. The tube should then be shaken and an incantation chanted: "What thou carriest on me, that I carry on thee" (Shab. 66b). Although practices of this kind were disapproved of by rabbinic authorities who regarded them as "Amorite rites" (folk practices alien to the spirit of Judaism), they persisted; most of them are based on principles of sympathetic magic. In the Middle Ages there is evidence of a more widespread use of folk medicine among Jews. There are many folk prescriptions in the Sefer Ḥasidim (13th century), most of them derived from the contiguous Christian culture. The remedy against premature birth was for a wife to wear a piece of her husband's stockings or waistband (a practice of contagious magic found in German folk medicine).
There are many folk medicine manuscripts extant from the late Middle Ages (16th–18th centuries) which contain prescriptions against fever and epilepsy. The mysterious nature of these diseases seems to have attracted the special attention of folk doctors in various culture areas. Some prescriptions
Besides folk medicine, only a few customs are unrelated to any of the two main cycles of the Jewish year and life. Most of them have a distinctive Jewish character and have been based on Jewish legends and traditions. Thus, for example, feeding the birds in Eastern Europe on the winter Sabbath when the section on manna is read (Ex. 16) is associated with the legend that birds helped Moses defeat his opponents who wanted to prove that the Lawgiver had told a lie about manna. The same legend (cf. Ginzberg, Legends, 3 (1953), 46–47) also gave rise to the custom in Eastern Europe to feed birds on Shabbat Shirah when the section containing the Song of Moses (Ex. 15) was read in the synagogue.
Another social custom prevalent among Jews is to say "God bless you" (the exclamation asuta meaning "health") to anyone who sneezes. This custom is associated with the legend that in antiquity sneezing was a sign which forebode the sneezer's forthcoming death, but which no longer prevailed after the time of Jacob (cf. Ginzberg, Legends, vol. 5, 364, note 357). The origin of the custom, however, is not confined to Jews (Trachtenberg (1939), 306).
Jewish folklore and Jewish religion have always influenced each other. Often adapted from foreign sources, Jewish folklore was profoundly imbued with the Jewish religious spirit but in turn left its mark on Jewish religion. The religious practices extant in the various Jewish communities long ago freed themselves from their underlying superstitious beliefs and bear the character of monotheistic Judaism. However, in Jewish communities removed from the centers of learning and from religious leaders well versed in halakhah there still exist, side by side with the normative religion, complexes of popular beliefs and superstitions. Contrary to the explicit command of the Torah (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:9–14), beliefs in divination, the prognostic arts, interpretations of dreams, and astrology are still rooted in Jewish communities (cf. the still popular reprints of folk books like Goralot Aḥitofel ("Lots of Ahitophel," Jerusalem, 1965); Sefer Ḥokhmat ha-Yad ha-Shalem ("The Wisdom of Chiromancy," Jerusalem, 1966); Sefer Ḥokhmatha-Parẓuf ("Divination According to Features," Jerusalem, 1967) which are widely read and used by ethnic groups). Rabbinic authorities have tried to suppress customs which they regard not of Jewish origin, but in many cases they have not succeeded. Thus, for example, the customs of kapparot (propitiatory rite performed on the eve of the Day of *Atonement) and tashlikh (symbolic casting off of sins during *Rosh Ha-Shanah) are entirely foreign and considered by many Jewish authorities as pagan practices diametrically opposed to Judaism (cf. Rappoport, The Folklore of the Jews, p. 112–117); however, they are still commonly practiced in Jewish communities.
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