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November 01, 1974 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-11-01

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Fri day, November 1,1974-21


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(Continued from Page 20)
nose. Bartolommo Cocles
(16th Century CE) an ex-
pounder of this art was cer-
tain that "Big noses . . . are
a good sign, whether they are
curved or straight. Such peo-
ple are peaceful though not
shy, and very intelligent .. .
Snub-nosed. a n d flat-nosed
people lack in intelligence
and indulge in lies."/2
of the occult arts witch-
craft has no doubt been the
most prevalent. Originating
in prehistoric . times, it has
been prIcticed in ancient,
medieval and modern times.
During the Middle Ages, it
had been outlawed in many
European countries. In Eng-
land, France and Spain death
was the penalty for practic-
ing it.
In Spain, the infamous In-
quisition condemned a horse
to be burned at the stake
accusing it of witchcraft. It
performed tricks, it had been
In addition to the legal
prohibitions, the scared peo-
ple resorted to "spiritual"
measures, such as beating
twigs of certain plants on
ha•rd surfaces. The branches
of the rowan tree and the
willow were especially effec-
tive. Some witches confessed
that willow baskets were
their best means of transpor-
It is significant to note
that the harsh laws against
witchcraft were generally ac-
cepted ,and seldom opposed.
It is, therefore, - significant to
record that even in those
days there were dissidents
who courageously fought un-
iust and senseless laws. Re-
ginald Scot (16th Century
CE) was one of them.' Not
only did he denounce -the
merciless laws, but he even
challenged the existence of
witches. In his famous_ book,


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"The Discoverie of Witch-
craft," he describes witches
as ". . . women . . . commonly
old, lame, bleare-eied, fowle,
and full of wrinkles; poor,
sullen, superstitious, and pap-
ists; or such as know no re-
ligion: in whose drousie
minds the divell hath gotten
a fine seat."
He was equally contempt-
uous of people who ascribe to
witches supernatural powers.
Most of all, he was indignant
of the Dominican tract "Mal-
leus Maleficarum," " T h e
Hammer of Witches,"- which
in 250,000 words claimed that
witches could "raise haile,
tempests, and hurtfull
weather; as lightening, thun-
der, etc. These be they that
procure barrennesse in man,
woman, and beast ... These
can bring trembling to the
hands . . . make a woman
miscarie in childbirth, and
destry the child in the
mother's wombe, without any
sensible means either in-
wardlie or outwardlie ap-
plied. These can with their
looks kill e i t 1.1e r man or
If I may digress here" for
a moment, I would like to
point out a passage in S.
Anski's drama, "The Dyb-
buk," which is almost an-
alagous to the cited passage
in "MalleuS Maleficarum."
"In my town there is a
wonder worker, a real mas
ter of miracles. With one
spell he starts a fire and
with another he immediately
puts it out. He can see what
is happening, a hundred miles
away; he can draw wine
from a wall with his fingers,
and things like that. Well,
he once told me he knows
spells that can- create a
`golem', revive the dead,
make one invisible, call forth
spirits, even Satan himself.
(Spits.) I heard from his own
lips. /4
Coming back to Scot: just
as he disproved the claims
of "Malleus Maleficarum,"
s did he dispute the ,ver-
acity of the biblical story
that Samuel's spirit was
raised 'by a witch at Endor
at the request of King Saul.
Scot insisted that it Was not
the witch who conjured up
Samuel, but it was God who
•"did interpose Samuel, as he
did Elias to the messenger of
Ochosias, when he sent to
Belzebub the god of Acha-
ron." Scot further argued,
"And yet if it - were, that
Samuel himselfe were raised,
or the divell in his likenesse;
and that the witch of Endor
by her art and cunning did
it, etc. it maketh rather to
the disproofe than to the
proofe of our witches which
can neither do that kind of
miracle, or any other, in
any such companie, where
their jugling • and cousenage
may be seen and laid open.
And I challenge them all
(even upon the adventure of
my life) to shew one peece
of miracle . . . "
Scot also rejected the be-
lief that Solomon was
adept at witchcraft. This be-
lief was based , on Ecclesi-
astes 1, "I applied, my mind
to knowledge, and to search
and seeke out science, wise-
dome and understanding, to
knowe the foolishness of the
ungodlie, and the error of
of doting fooles." (This ver-
sion differs from the Hebrew
text and from the King
James version.)

Scot maintained that the humed" to' depart from
passage in Ecclesiastes was ,Esther by using physical
misinterpreted, and he ap- force.
plied to the misinterpreters
In Fromer's account, too,
Plato's maxim: "They make _ the "gilgul" (transmigra-
philosophie a mockerie, that tion) of the "meshumed's"
deliver it to prophane and dybbuk is recounted most
rude people."
touchingly: "After death he
had been cast out of hell
At this point, it would be with insults and opprobrium.
appropriate to turn to the; He wandered for a long time,
biblical laws against witch- but could no longer remain
without habitation and 'finally
An early law against witch- entered into a pig.
That was not too bad.
craft (Ex. 22:17) consists of
the command "Thou shalt When the pig was slaughter-
not suffer a witch to live.", ed he passed into a horse,
Rashi, the great biblical and where he had a very poor
talmudic commentator, ex- time. It was a clraughhorse
plained that this law "does which had to work hard, re-
not mean that you may kill ceive many blows and never
her but she shalt be put to eat his fill. At length he de-
death by the court. Both men cided to try man. The oc-
and women who practice casion was propitious. He
witchcraft' are included in knew that Esther had illicit
this law, but in using the relations with- a young man,
feminine term `mkhasheyfah' and watched for the moment
Scripture speaks jof what is when she abandoned herself
usually the case for its is to his embraces; at that in-
women who mostly practice stant he was permitted to
enter her."/3
Finally. The demonologist,
A later m o r e inclusive
Deuteronomic 1 a w (Deut. Johann Wier/3 (1515-1588)
18:10-11) prohibts the follow- after much research and
i n g witchcraft practices: study concluded that the
"There shall not be found number. of devils was exactly
among you any one that 7,409,127. ThiSnumber, I
maketh his son or his daugh- presume, includes these
ter to pass through the fire, characters:
or that useth divination, or • Satan: according to legend
an observer of clouds, or an was Eve's lover. He is the
enchanter, or a sorccerer. enemy of God and man.
Ashmadai: with feet. of a
Or a charmer, or a consulter
with familiar spihts, or a rooster is the king of the
wizard, or a necromancer. demons.
Keteb Meriri: "most harm-
Rashi's definitions of the ful at noon and especially
biblical witchcraft nomen- during hot summer months."
clature are most interesting: /6
Igrat: the queens - of de-
A diviner is "One who takes
his stick in hand and says, mons. I
Lilit: according to legend
`Shall I go, or shall I not
go?" '
was Adam's first wife. She
An observer of clouds at is the enemy of women and
designated times declares, children.
Lilits (plural) are "demons
"This time is auspicious to
begin some work."
who embrace sleeping men
A sorcerer "draws prog- ' and cause them to have noc-
n- os,tications from the fact turnal emissions which - are
that the bread fell from his the seed of hybrid progeny."
mouth, or that a stag crossed /6
the path, or that his stick
1. "Collections of the State His-
fell from his hand."
torical Society of Wisconsin,"
v. 16.
A charmer is "One who
Kurt. "Magic, Su-
charms snakes or scorpions
pernaturalism and Religion."
or other creature into one
New York: Pantheon, Books,
3. Woods, William. "A History
"A cr nsulter of the spirit—
of the Devil." New York: G. P.
Putnam's Sons, 1974.
this is a kind of sorcery
Joseph. Edited and
brought about by a spirit 4. Landis,
Translated: "The Dibbuk and
Other Great Yiddish Plays."
whose name is Pithom who
New York: Bantam Books,
speaks out of his (the charm-
,er's) arm-pit, having raised 5. Rev. Rosenbaum, M. and Dr.
Silbermann, A.M. Edited and
acorpse beneath his arm-
Translated:- "Pentateuch." Lon-
don: Shapiro, Valentine & Co.,
A wizard `.`is one who puts
Trachtenberg,' Joshua. "Jew-
a bone of an animal, the 6. ish
Magic and Superstition."
Cleveland: Meridian Books,
name of which is Yidoah,
into his mouth and the bone
speaks by way of sorcery."
A necromancer "raises a Neo-Nazis Lose
corpse, placing it on his
genitals, or who consults a W. German Vote
The neo-
The Deuteronomic law (18: Nazi National Democrats in
12) concludes, "For all that West Germany were propor-
do these things are on abom- tionately the heavist losers
ination unto the Eternal: and in the weekend's elections in
because of these abomina- Hesse and Bavaria.
In Hesse they lost two-
tions the Eternal thy God
dispossess them from before thirds of their voters, with
1 per cent of the vote com-
- In S. Anski's drama, Rebe pared to 3.1 per cent in 1970.
Azrielke of Miropolye suc- In Bavaria, the situation was
ceeded in forcing the tor- similar where they received
tuous dybbuk of Khonon out _1.1 per cent against 2.9 per
of Leye's body by excom- _tent in 1970.
The results document once
municating him; but the dyb-
buk, nevertheless, returned again the decline in extreme
into the soul. In the case re- rightist politics in West Ger-
lated by Jacob Fromer /3 in many, and the failure of
his autobiography, the exor- NPD leaders to develop poli-
cist rabbi definitely, and cies and ideas attractive
effectively forced the resist- enough to stop the party's
ing dybbuk of the "mes- dwindling membership.

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