FN11 The authors of Sefer Hasidim were the three prominent leaders of the medieval German Jewish pietist movement, R. Samuel b. Judah, the founder of the movement, his son—the central author of Sefer Hasidim—, R. Judah the Pious, and R. Judah’s star pupil R. Eleazar B. Judah of Worms. It is impossible to determine which of these three scholars wrote the specific story this article will discuss, but I will follow the general consensus in scholarship and attribute it, like the bulk of the book, to R. Judah. See, Ivan Marcus, Piety and Society. The Jewish Pietists of Medieval Germany (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 136-143.
FN22 Joseph Dan, “Rabbi Judah the Pious and Caesarius of Heisterbach: Common Motifs in their Stories,” Scripta Hieroslymitana 22 (1971), 18-27.
FN44 Eli Yassif, “The Exemplary Story in Sefer Hasidim,” Tarbiz 57 (1988), 217-256, republished under the same title in his collected articles: The Hebrew Collection of Tales in the Middle Ages (Tel Aviv: Kibbutz Meuhad, 2004), 166-213 (Hebrew). Yassif lists these parallels on 174-175, n. 20.
FN55 For a broad discussion of Peter the Chanter, see John W. Baldwin, Masters, Princes, and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter the Chanter and his Circle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970).
FN66 For a biography of R. Judah the Pious, see the recent work of Joseph Dan, R. Judah heHasid, (Jerusalem: Merkaz Shazar, 2006) (Hebrew). For a précis of his biography, pages 11-13.
FN77 Ivan Marcus distinguishes between pious people and R. Judah’s followers, whom he calls “pietists,” in order to mark their belonging to a certain group, Piety. However, for the purpose of this particular story, which does not examine internal Jewish practice but pits the Jews against the Christians, I do not think this distinction is of great import.
FN88 Sefer Hasidim has been the topic of much research over the past century. For a summary, see Ivan Marcus, “Introduction,” The Religious and Social Ideas of the Jewish Pietists in Medieval Germany, ed. Ivan Marcus (Jerusalem: Merkaz Shazar, 1986), 11-24 (Hebrew); Peter Schäfer, “Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages: The Book of the Pious,” in The Jews of Europe in the Middle Ages, ed. Christoph Cluse (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), 29-41 and the forum of articles on the topic published in the Jewish Quarterly Review 96 (1), 2006 which came as a response to Haym Soloveitchik, “Piety, Pietism and German Pietism: Sefer Hasidim I and the Influence of Hasidei Ashkenaz,” Jewish Quarterly Review 92 (2002), 455-493.
FN99 For an analysis of stories from antiquity in their medieval context, see Rella Kushelevsky, Penalty and Temptation. Hebrew Tales in Ashkenaz, MS. Parma 2295 (de Rossi 563) (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2010) (Hebrew).
FN1010 Yassif, “Hebrew Collection,” 177. Yassif has discussed the similarities and differences between the exempla in Sefer Hasidim and the popular Christian exempla of the period.
FN1111 The term used here, as in the passage cited below, is hashuvei ha’ir. These are the Jewish leaders of the community, as is evident in both passages. This term is worthy of further study; in the meantime, see Haym Soloveitchik, The Use of Responsa as Historical Source (Jerusalem: Merkaz Shazar, 1990), 101-105, for a discussion of different ways of defining medieval Jewish authorities.
FN1212 On tiflah, a common Jewish term for Christian prayer, see David Berger, “A Generation of Scholarship on Jewish-Christian Interaction in the Medieval World,” Tradition 38 (2004), 6, and see n. 18 below.
FN1313 בעיר אחת הוצרכו למטר כי נתייבשה הארץ מפני החום נתקבצו גלחים וכומרים וגוים יחדיו התענו וצעקו לאלהים בעד מטר ולא ירדו גשמים. אמרו ליהודים התענו והתפללו לאלהיכם על המטר כי גם אתם צריכים אמרו חשובי העיר לאחר שאתם לא תעשו תיפלה שלכם. אבל עמכם לא וכתיב "ובגוים לא יתחשב" (שמות כג: 9) אלא עשו תחילה אתם. וכתיב "כי כל העמים ילכו איש בשם אלהיו". אחר כך "ואנחנו נלך בשם ה' אלהינו לעולם ועד" (מיכה ד:5) וכתיב "עשו ראשונה כי אתם הרבים” (מלכים א יח:25) ואחר כך אליה נענה. וכן אלה התענו והתפללו וירדו גשמים.I have used the facsimile Sefer Hasidim Parma H 3280, introduction by Ivan Marcus (Jerusalem: Merkaz Dinur, 1985), #402, as well as the earlier edition published in Das Buch des Frommen, ed. Jehudah Wistinetzki, introduction by Jacob Freimann (Frankfurt a.M: Wahrmann Verlag, 1924), #402. All references are to the Parma version, noted as SHP. For variants I have utilized the Sefer Hasidim Database at Princeton University, available online at: https://etc.princeton.edu/sefer_hasidim. The story of Elijah is also referred to as part of the debate concerning ordeals and for those who argued this was part of the culture of the Old Testament and a biblical miracle that confounds investigation; on this, see Michael Goodich, Miracles and Wonders. The Development of the Concept of a Miracle 1150-1350 (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishers, 2007), 12. This is the context in which Peter the Chanter discusses this story, although he does not refer to Elijah in this particular example.
FN1414 For example, SHP, # 400 and compare to BT Tractate Ta’anit 19b-20a, 24b.
FN1515 For further discussion of the Elijah story, see below, p. 41, n. 21 and p. 51.
FN1616 Yassif, “Hebrew Collection,” 173-174.
FN1717 The stories addressed here are evidence of the urban setting in which they take place and are worthy of further analysis, which is beyond the scope of this article. Questions of how urban spaces produced and reflected Jewish-Christian tensions can be seen as part of a current growing interest in medieval urbanity. See the recent volume, Caroline Goodson, Anne E. Lester and Carol Symes, Cities, Texts and Social Networks, 400-1500. Experiences and Perceptions of Medieval Urban Space (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), 4-8 and 11-17.
FN1818 See Berger, n. 12, as well as Yaacov Deutsch’s discussion of insults regularly aimed at Christianity, “Verzeychnuss . . . von den erschrecklichen Jüdischen Gottslesterungen (1560): A Sixteenth Century Compilation of anti-Christian Practices,” The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 55 (2010), 41-61 and Elisheva Carlebach, Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University and Belknap Press, 2011), 160-185.
FN1919 Eli Yassif, The Hebrew Folktale: History, Genre, Meaning (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1994), 455-456 (Hebrew). The two tales he points to as examples of tensions between Jews and non-Jews, the story of Nakdimon Ben Gurion (BT Ta’anit 19b-20a; Avoth deRabbi Nathan, ed. Menahem Kister (New York, NY and Jerusalem: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1997), Nusah a, chapter 7) and of Raba and King Shapur, (BT Ta’anit 24b), are not at all similar to this story. In his recent work on Safed, Yassif has pointed to the characteristics of these modern tales of rain in contrast to the ancient ones; see Eli Yassif, “In the Fields and Deserts”: Space and Meaning in the Legends of Safed,” Cathedra 116 (2005), 67-102.
FN2020 Yassif notes this story in Sefer Hasidim in a footnote and comments that it is a folktale. See n. 3.
FN2121 The exception to this rule is the Elijah story in the Bible, although one might ask whether the Ba’al prophets were actually foreigners or Israelites who chose to worship a foreign god. On the whole, medieval discussions of the Elijah story from Germany and northern France do not address Jewish-Christian relations using the figure of Elijah or this specific story. Instead, Elijah usually features as a figure who appears to righteous men and women who are in need of divine help. Elijah appears over twenty times in Sefer Hasidim but none of these passages relate to our story. The incident on Mount Carmel is mentioned in Sefer Hasidim in the context of internal communal strife between Jews, see # 1973.
FN2222 For a discussion of Peter’s position see Baldwin, Masters, I: 323-332; idem, “The Intellectual Preparation for the Canon of 1215 Against Ordeals,” Speculum 36 (1961), 626-631.
FN2323 The diminutive is used twice: modica and nubecula.
FN2424 The parallel between this argument and that presented by the author of Sefer Nizahon Vetus concerning the ways Jews should refute Christian miracles is noteworthy. See David Berger, The Jewish-Christian Debate in the Middle Ages. Sefer Nizzahon Vetus (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1979), 210.
FN2525 Peter Cantoris Parisiensis, Verbum Abbreviatum, ed. Monique Boutry, CCCM, 196 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), I, 76, p. 505, lines 372-385. “Accidit quondam Remis intolerabilis ariditas et aeris noxia intemperies. Extractis reliquiis et capsulis, fecerunt per triduum fideles cuiuslibet sexus uel officii uel meriti aruambalia et amburbalia nec apparuit modica nubecula. Videns tantam afflictionem, Iudeus quidam archisinagogus ait: ‘Concedo ut omnes simus christiani, si infra triduum non dedero pluuias copiosas, si rotulum nostrum et thorath permiseritis nobis circumferre. Dixerunt plerique fideles: Bonum est, bonum est’. Tandem ait magister Albericus, ‘Absit quod fides Christi mittatur in periculum, si Iudeus de celo aquas eliceret arte magica, Domino permittente propter peccata nostra uel diabolo procurante, quia mali etiam leguntur sepe fecisse miracula, et ita fides Christi omnino posset exsufflari, quia omnes ad iudaismum conuerti uellent.’ Nec ausi sunt fidem nostram pro lucro tot Iudeorum periculo exponere. I thank Brigitte Meijns (Louvain) for her help with translation. See also Baldwin, “The Intellectual Preparation,” 630.
FN2626 Ludwig Ott, “Albericus v. Reims”, Lexikon des Mittelalters, (Munich and Zurich: Artemis Verlag, 1980), 1:281-282.
FN2727 Concerning relic processions, see Thomas Head, “Saints, Heretics and Fire: Finding Meaning through the Ordeal,” in Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts. Religion in Medieval Society; Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little, eds. Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2000) 220-238; idem, “The Genesis of the Ordeal of Relics by Fire in Ottonian Germany: An Alternative Form of Canonization,” in Medieval Canonization Processes. Legal and Religious Aspects, ed. Gabor Klaniczay (Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 2004), 19-31. See also Peter Dinzelbacher, Das fremde Mittelalter: Gottesurteil und Tierprozess (Essen: Magnus, 2006), 57-58.
FN2828 Elliott Oring, “Legendry and the Rhetoric of Truth,” Journal of American Folklore 121 (2008), 127-166, esp. 127-129.
FN2929 According to John Baldwin, it is not clear whether Alberic was Peter’s master as he might have arrived in Reims too late to have heard him lecture, but he certainly knew his reputation. See Baldwin, Masters, I: 5, 153. Baldwin has argued that in light of the long period of time Peter spent in Reims, the Reims material should not disprove Peter’s authorship as some have suggested. See, Baldwin, “Intellectual Preparation,” 626, n. 80, 628.
FN3030 See, Oring, n. 22.
FN3131 Oring, “Legendry,” discusses the basic assumption that legends are true and this is the case before us as well. For a more complex approach, see Dan, “R. Judah,” 19.
FN3232 Ephraim E. Urbach, The Tosaphists (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 19842), 237 suggests erroneously that R. Judah spent time in France.
FN3333 The Verbum Abbreviatum was well known in the thirteenth century and see Baldwin, ibid. n. 5.
FN3434 Yassif, “Hebrew Collection,” 173-174.
FN3535 Dan, “R. Judah,” 21.
FN3636 See, for example, David Levine, Communal Fasts and Rabbinic Sermons—Theory and Practice in the Talmudic Period (Tel Aviv: Kibbutz Meuhad, 2001) (Hebrew); Teresa M. Shaw, The Burden of Flesh. Fasting and Sexuality in Early Christianity (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1988); Mary C. Mansfield, The Humiliation of Sinners. Public Penance in Thirteenth Century France (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1995); William Chester Jordan, The Great Famine. Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 156.
FN3737 I thank Lucia Raspe who suggested this perspective to me.
FN3838 Yassif, Hebrew Folktale, 455-456.
FN3939 Even if this suggestion is rejected, the similar details between the stories still allow for a comparison such as that which I suggest.
FN4040 Frederic C. Tubach, Index Exemplorum, A Handbook of Medieval Religious Tales (Helsinki: Akademiz Scientiarum Fennica, 1969), #1976, #3885.
FN4242 For the famines that did occur a little more than a century after Peter the Chanter’s lifetime, see Jordan, The Great Famine, 7-9. For the warm middle ages, see Hubert Lamb, “The Early Medieval Warm Epoch and Its Sequel,” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 1 (1965), 13-37; Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Times of Feast, Times of Famine: a History of Climate Since the Year 1000 (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1971); Malcolm K. Hughes and Henry F. Diaz, eds, The Medieval Warm Period (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994), 109-142, who argue that northern Europe was not much warmer.
FN4343 At the same time, it does not mean this was a real event. As stated above, that question is beyond the scope of this argument and is, without additional evidence, impossible to resolve.
FN4444 Mansfield, Humiliation of Sinners, esp. 248-287, examines practice in northern France. One of the author’s central arguments is that all penance, and this included fasting and parading the streets with reliquaries, was public rather than private. For Germany, see Head, n. 26.
FN4545 חכמים. A hakham in Sefer Hasidim is usually the Sage who gives advice to his followers. The reference to both community leaders and sages here seems to suggest two kinds of leadership and see n. 11.
FN4646 SHP, #201: ואם יש משומד וידוע לחשובי העיר ולחכמים שבעיר שברצון היה חוזר בתשובה ואם יברח תהא סכנה לאנשי העיר שיאמרו היהודים הבריחוהו, אז יוכל לגנוב את דעת הגוים שיאמר רוצה ללכת לשוחה ויקח עליו שתי וערב עד שיצא ממקום מכיריו ויסיר מעליו. ולא יהיה התרעומת על היהודים.
FN4747 Pilgrimage was often imposed on Christians as penance and was not always undertaken out of free volition, see Mansfield, Humiliation of Sinners, 115-116.
FN4848 Compare the Parma MS version to Sefer Hasidim, (Bologna: Defus Hashutafim, 1538), # 198, where the text mentions going to a “kedesh”—a saint. MS Bodleian Opp. Add. fol. 34, #87 mentions Jesus’ grave as well whereas former MS JTS Boesky 45, #102 is censored. On Jews in saints’ shrines, see Ephraim Shoham-Steiner, “Jews and Healing at Medieval Saints’ Shrines: Participation, Polemics, and Shared Cultures,” Harvard Theological Review 103 (2010), 111-129.
FN4949 The word komrot is difficult to translate in the context of late twelfth and early thirteenth century social context. What was meant by this word, which literally translates as “priestesses”? Were these women who belonged to mendicant orders or were they women who were pursuing penitential life but did not officially belong to an order? For the problem of defining these women, see John B. Freed, “Urban Development and the “Cura Monalium” in Thirteenth Century Germany,” Viator 3 (1972), 311-327; Anne E. Lester, Creating Cistercian Nuns: The Women’s Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth Century Champagne (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011). I thank the author for generously sharing her work with me prior to its publication.
FN5050 The term used here for young girls is “young females” and this is the way young girls are referred to in medieval Hebrew texts; see Elisheva Baumgarten, “Conceptions of Childhood: Education of Young Children in Medieval Jewish Communities,” Medieval Children and Childhood, ed. Joel Rosenthal, (Sheffield: Paul Watkins-Shaun Tyas, 2007), 56-74.
FN5151 The idea seems to be that if these women tried to escape the convent, the young girls would not be able to run away.
FN5252 Some lay women who were especially pious wore black, as did beguines who lived in their homes. See Dennis Devlin, “Feminine Lay Piety in the High Middle Ages: The Beguines,” in Distant Echoes: Medieval Religious Women, eds John A. Nichols and Lillian Thomas Shank, 2 vols. (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), 183-196; Walter Simons, Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565 (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); Lester, Creating Cistercian Nuns.
FN5353 Once again it is hard to know if this is an official house that belonged to an order, or a house that belonged to penitent women. Many such houses existed in medieval urban settings as described by Lester, n. 49. But in light of the context, as I will explain, I have chosen to see this house as belonging to an order.
FN5454 Notably the Bologna edition reads the option of wearing white and being in a house as identical, something the medieval sources do not and this perhaps reflects the period in which the Bologna edition was printed (sixteenth century) when the option of living a holy life out of the order was not as prevalent.
FN5555 MS New York (former) JTS Boesky 45, #115 reads חכמות (wise women) in the feminine and suggests that the wiser women said this.
FN5656 SHP, # 262: בשעת השמד מקצתם נהרגו ומקצתם נשתמדו על מנת לחזור לדת יהודית כשיוכלו אלא מפני אבחת חרב נשתמדו. הנשים שנהרגו בעליהן או שהיו פנויות מקצתן היו אומרים שמא הערלים יטמאו אותם. ואמרו רוצות להיות כומרות. אבל נקבות קטנות לא שמו שם. כי אמרו אם יברחו לא יניחו את הטף מהם. ואחרות לבשו שחורות בביתם. כי אמרו אם יהיו ככומרות לא יוכלו מהרה לברוח. אמרו להם הגוים או תהיו בכומריא או תלבשו לבנים ולבשו לבנים. כי אמרו שמא אם יהיו בכומריא לא יוכלו מהרה לברוח. ואמרו החכמים שבהם אם יטמאו אותם בעל כרחם דרך זנות אינו כל כך עון כאותם שבכומריא ששומרין אותם כמה שנים שלא יברחו ואוכלות דבר טמא ומחללות שבתות אבל אם הערילים ידחקו אותן להנשא לערל שאינה יכולה לברוח מפני הבעל ששומרת אותה מוטב שתהיה בכומריא שלא יטמאנה הערל.
FN5858 Anne E. Lester, “Crafting a Charitable Landscape: Urban Topographies in Charters and Testaments from medieval Champagne,” in Cities, Texts and Networks, 137-139, describes such houses.
FN5959 Thus, for example, Mainz, a major Jewish center, was the home of one of the largest and best known Beguine groups during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; see Alois Gerlich, “Mainz,” Lexikon des Mittelalters (Munich: Artemis Verlag, 1993), 6:140-141. Speyer was the home of a number of orders and cloisters; see Kurt Andermann, “Speyer,” Lexikon des Mittelalters, (Munich: Lexma Verlag, 1995), 7: 2097-2098; likewise, ¬Regensburg, the home of R. Judah, was the location of a number of different female orders; see Alois Schmid, “Regensburg” Lexikon des Mittelalters (Munich: Lexma Verlag, 1995), 7:566-567.
FN6060 Much of the scholarship to date has focused on scholarly exchange and searched for channels of communication between scholars. However, these comments on Christian practice are evidence of contact in the realm of daily life that did not depend on scholarship or knowledge. For suggestions of such contacts between women, see Elisheva Baumgarten, “ ‘A Separate People’? Some Directions for Comparative Research on Medieval Women,” Journal of Medieval History 34 (2008), 212-228.
FN6161 For antiquity, see Noah Hacham, Ta’aniyot Tzibbur beTekufat haBayit haSheni, (MA Thesis, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1997). For the medieval period, see, for example, R. Ephraim b. Jacob of Bonn, The Book of Memoirs (Sefer Zekhira). Penitential Prayers and Lamentations, ed. With introduction and notes Abraham. M. Habermann (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1970), 33.
FN6262 One should note that this is not always R. Judah’s stance. For example, in a much- quoted passage he talks about how Jews and non-Jews share social obstacles, SHP, # 1301. The tosafot commentary on BT Ta’anit 21b, s.v. “amru leh” also discusses a case in which Jews and Christians fast together because of shared dangers.
FN6363 For this temptation, see Judah Galinsky, ‘And if a Prophet or a Dreamer should arise from within thy midst and presented you with a Sign or a Miracle’: Different Approaches to “Miracles of the Christian Saints” in Medieval Rabbinic Literature” (Hebrew), I.M. Ta-Shma Memorial Volume (Alon Shvut: Tevunot Press, 2011), 195-219.
FN6464 For a discussion of such reversed structures, see Robert Bonfil, History and Folklore in a Medieval Jewish Chronicle, The Family Chronicle of Ahima’az ben Paltiel (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 16-43, esp. 41-42; 52-53, and Israel J. Yuval, Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006), 38-49.
FN6565 For the idea of counter-history in the medieval context, see Amos Funkenstein, “History, Counter-History and Narrative,” (Hebrew) Alpayim 4 (1991), 203-223; David Biale, Counter-history and Jewish polemics against Christianity: The “Sefer Toldot Yeshu” and the “Sefer Zerubavel,” Jewish Social Studies 6 (1999), 130-145, and most recently William C. Jordan, “Exclusion and the Yearning to Belong: Evidence from the History of Thirteenth Century France”, in Difference and Identity in Francia and Medieval France, ed. Meredith Cohen and Justine Firnhaber-Baker (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), 15-24. In a broader context, see James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), 17-44, who develops the idea of such a counter-history as the “weapons of the weak.”
FN6666 A similar suggestion has been made by Lucia Raspe in her discussion of the tale of R. Amram of Regensburg, Lucia Raspe, Jüdische Hagiographie im mittelalterlichen Aschkenas (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 106-119.
FN6767 Mishna Ta’anit 2:1; Levine, Communal Fasts, 66-96; Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy. A Comprehensive History (New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1993), 106-107.
FN6868 Henri Gross, “Reims,” Gallia Judaica, ed. Simon Schwarzfuchs (Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1969), 633-634. In contrast, see Norman Golb, “The Rabbinic Master Jacob Tam”, Crusades 9 (2010), 57-67.
FN6969 Baldwin, Masters, I: 94.
FN7070 Christians often paraded with relics and Jews were surely aware of this, as they were of other parades; see Mansfield, Humiliation of Sinners, 152-154, and for Jewish awareness of Christian processions, see David Berger, The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages, (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979), 44.
FN7171 For a recent example, see Eva Haverkamp, “Martyrs in Rivalry: The 1096 Jewish Martyrs and the Thebean Legion,” Jewish History 23 (2009) 319-342.
FN7272 Scott, Domination, 33-36.
FN7373 The same holds true for the importance of reading Christian sources in light of local or parallel Jewish traditions. However, in light of the minority status of Jews in medieval Europe, it would seem that this inclusion of Jewish sources in their local context is vital for understanding the Jewish sources. For the importance of such readings, see Bonfil, History and Folklore, 41-42.