Monthly Archives: February 2013

DRBR 13: In which an Important Appeal is responded to

DR6-L16 contains two items: a flyer and a wedding invitation. IMPORTANT EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR HACHNOSAS KALOH Dear Brothers and Sisters: I beg you with great respect. I am a refugee in this country. I have fled from the Iron Curtain (Budapest), where I had my own Beth Hamedrash. Now, I have to marry off my […]


DRBR 12e: Desserts

And now, dessert! Menu item 13: Frozen Squishies, אשישי קפאין. Explanation 13: Song of Songs 2:8 says סמכוני באשישות, sustain me with raisin-cakes. Jastrow says that ashisha comes to mean any pressed kind of food, also a jug or contents thereof. So this might be a frozen raisin-cake, or it might be an ice-cream cake […]


DRBR 12d: Drinks courses

Today, drinks. Menu item 10: Wine. Explanation 10: Psalms 128 says “Your wife shall be a fruitful vine.” Menu item 11: Beer. Explanation 11: מכי רמו שערי באסינתא, From the time they put barley into the asinta, Ketubot 8a. Ketubot 8a is discussing the early formation of the wedding-meal liturgy. Today, the standard practice is […]


DRBR 12c: In which substantial food is served

Back to the menu at this wedding feast. Menu item 4: מרק, soup. Explanation 4: תמרוקי הנשים. This one is a pun on Esther 2:12, וששה חדשים בבשמים ובתמרוקי הנשים “six months with scents and ointments for women.” Menu item 5: דג גדול, a big fish. Explanation 5: Song of Songs 2 says ודגלו עלי […]


Writing instruments

(Repeat of an old post, seasonally relevant) The original stone tablets were written by the finger of God, etzba Elohim. Nowadays we write their less cumbersome representations, the Torah-scrolls, with quills, but what most people today don’t know is that ideally you don’t use a quill to write sifrei kodesh. You’re supposed to use the […]


DRBR 12a: In which a Menu is announced

Catalogue reference DR6-L6 is a menu from someone’s wedding. We’ll see the front today, and the inside next time. בעהי”ת By the grace of God פרי עץ הדר—זו שרה (ויק”ר ל’) “Beautiful Tree-Fruit”–this is Sarah (Vayikra Raba 30) מנוי מזונות Menu of Foods (Compare the blessing for snacks, בורא מיני מזונות) לשולחן ליל התקדש חג […]


DRBR 11: In which Public Health Announcements are made

Today we have some public health notices from 1923 (DR5-L73 and 74). “Either you’ve washed your hands and nails with soap and water, or you mustn’t eat or touch your eyes. Contagious diseases are in dirt!” ‘Dam, tsfardeya, kinim’–the third plague is the worst! Check yourself for lice! Typhus comes from lice!” Also observe the […]


DRBR 10: In which Shabbetai Tzvi is reported to have died

This one’s an edition of the London Gazette, from April 1666. I love the line “Published by Authority”. I thought that was hubris, but then I learned that the London Gazette is “one of the official journals of record of the British government,” so it really is Published by Authority. Genoa, March 6 It is […]


DRBR 9: In which tefillin are laid wrongly

“One who does not learn Shulchan Aruch or Chayei Adam can absolutely not do mitzvos of the Torah as they must be done. We see some Jews are not fulfilling the mitzvah of tefillin and are making invalid brachos because the tefilah shel rosh is on their forehead…the whole tefilah shel rosh must lie where […]


DRBR 8: In which Jews stay up till midnight

I photographed this one (DR5-L8) because the first line of English at the top made me laugh: IT IS THE DUTY OF ALL JEWISH PEOPLE, TO BE INSPIRED — yes, this does correspond rather directly and unfortunately to the way a lot of Jewish leaders think. The full English is IT IS THE DUTY OF […]