Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some Humor Is Immortal

I learned something reading the Seforim Blog today..those medieval Jews were kind of sexist..

Setting aside the issue of what marror is, another custom related to marror can be found in both printed and manuscript haggadot. In the Prague, 1526, the first illustrated printedhaggadah, there is a picture of a man pointing at his wife with the legend, “there is a custom that a man points to his wife when mentioning marror based upon the verse Ecclesiastes 7:26 “Now I find woman more bitter than death.”

 Yosef Heinemann the scholar of Jewish liturgy was appalled when he came across this. In his autobiography, he claims that there is no basis whatsoever for this “custom.” Heinemann is wrong.[5] If you look at the Brother to the Rylands Haggadah you can see that it shows this custom. As does the Washington Haggadah.

However it seems, that this sexist humor did not go without reply...
Returning to the gesturing at one’s wife at marror, in the Hiluq and Biluq Haggadah this custom takes on a somewhat more humorous dialogue with the wife no longer passive but instead returns the compliment. In that haggadah it includes speech balloons and they record the following: The husband states “touching marror I must recall that this one, too is bitter [as gall].” To which the wife replies, “It is you [my husband] is one of the causes of bitterness as well.” 

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