Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Jewish Magic and Superstition, by Joshua Trachtenberg, [1939], at



1. Blau, 15-16; JE, IV, 514 ff.

2. JE, IV, 519, 520;—Jacob Mann, "New Studies in Karaism," C.C.A.R. Yearbook, XLIV (1934), 221;—see in particular, Sefer Ḥasidim and the works written by or ascribed to Eleazar of Worms: Ḥochmat HaNefesh, Sefer Raziel, the commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah, etc. For a characterization of his ms. Sefer Malachim see Güd. I, 162,.—Rashi, Gen. 6:19.

3. Moses Taku, Oẓar Neḥmad, III, 97.

4. Nishmat Ḥayim, III, 12, 13, 14.

5. Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37. Gesenius interprets this word as "idols" (i.e., "lords" of the heathen, from the root shud, "to rule") which makes room for its later connotation of demon. It has, however, more properly been related to the Assyrian šêdu. "In function the shed," writes Montgomery (pp. 73-4), "is the Babylonian šêdu limnu, 'evil šêdu.' In the later Jewish demonology the shedim are the hobgoblins, the prevailing class of demons. They are the δαιμόνια of the Greeks."

6. Blau (pp. 14-15), discussing the Talmudic demonology, writes: "Wie sich Schedim, Mazzikin und die mannigfaltigen Ruchoth von einander unterscheiden, ist nicht leicht zu sagen; nur soviel scheint mir sicher, dass Ruchoth ursprünglich die Seelen Abgeschiedener bedeutet hatte, während Schedim eine eigene Gattung von Wesen bilden, welche . . . zur Hälfte Menschen und zur Hälfte Engel sind; . . . Mazzikin scheint beide nach ihren schädlichen Wirkungen zu benennen." Blau's attempt to distinguish among these categories, even in Talmudic literature, is forced; certainly, if any distinctions existed at that time, they had been completely lost by the Middle Ages; none appear already in Montgomery's incantation texts. Both Blau and Levy (ZDMG, IX, 482) regard the ruḥot as ghosts, but, as Montgomery points out, this view is unwarranted, "as the Rabbinic, Syriac and Mandaic use of the word shows. They are the πνεύματα

p. 275

[paragraph continues] πονηρά, or ἀκάφαρτα of the New Testament, the equivalent of the Babylonian utukki limnûti. This development of ruaḥ we may trace in the Old Testament where 'a spirit of evil,' 'the evil spirit,' appears as an agent of Jahwe; like the Satan such potencies easily passed into malicious demons" (p. 75). Cf. also Bischoff, 41 ff., where, however, the shedim are defined as fallen angels.

7. Ẓiyuni, 49a; Maḥ. Vit., p. 541, has a similar list, which differs in minor details. For lilin see Erub. 18b; cf. S. Ḥas. 1462.

8. Kid. 72a; S. Ḥas. 1154, 1160; Rokeaḥ 216 and 337; Asufot, 157b (in Güd. I, 53); Tashbeẓ, 315. We also read infrequently of the malach ra‘, "angel of evil," and mashḥit, "destroyer."

9. Cf. Ber. 6a and Rashi; also Git. 68a; Pes. 112b; Mid. Tehillim, ed. Buber, ch. 91, p. 398; Rashi on Nu. 22: 23;—De Givry, 126; Reichhelm, abbot of Schöngau, c. 1270, who had received from God the gift of being able to see demons, "describes their number as so great that the atmosphere is merely a crowd of them; he often saw them as a thick dust, or as motes in a sunbeam, or as thickly falling rain" (Lea, III, 385-2).

10. Cf. Abot, 5:6; Gen. R. 7:7, etc.; Hadar Zekenim on Gen. 2:3. The word la‘asot is understood to imply that there still remained something to complete when the Sabbath set in.

11. Disputation of R. Jeḥiel, 15; cf. Erub. 58b; Gen. R. 24:6; Rashi on II Sam. 7:14.

12. JE, IV, 520; S. Ḥas. B 1170; Ginzberg (Legends, V, 109) writes: "The view found in Josephus (Bell. Jud. VII, 6.3), as well as in Philo (De Gigant. 6-8 and De Somn. x. 133-36), that demons are the souls of the wicked reappears again in the Kabbalah (Zohar III, 70a), where it is borrowed from Christian sources, while it is entirely unknown to the earlier rabbis." This conception need not have been Christian in source; it may well have been current in the mystical tradition from which both S. Ḥasidim and Zohar drew, as a natural outgrowth of the prevalent view that the spirits of the dead remain on earth, at least for a time after death. Those who were evilly inclined in this life might be expected to remain so beyond the grave. In the later Kabbalah we find the view that "the sins of men are 'written' on their bones, and after their death the bones so inscribed are transformed into demons" (Kiẓur Shelah, Inyane Ta‘anit, 153-4).

13. See M. Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., p. 93.

14. S. Ḥas. 1950, p. 473; S. Ḥas. B 4; Ẓiyuni, 49b.

15. S. Ḥas. 140, 764; S. Ḥas. B 1145; Ẓiyuni, 27b; Nishmat Ḥayim, III, 23. When a donkey or horse snorts suddenly at night and refuses to go forward it should not be driven on, for a spirit or demon is blocking its path. All animals, and especially dogs, are sensitive to the presence of spirits; when a dog unaccountably whines and growls this is taken to be an indication that the Angel of Death is in town, and consequently is an omen of impending death. This belief occurs in German folklore also, cf. Grimm, III, 449, §454, 450, §493; Wuttke, 33.

16. Ginzberg, Legends, V, 108, where he cites the rabbinic literature; cf. Maḥ. Vit., p. 507.

17. Rashi, Erub. 18b and San. 109a referring to Nid. 24b and tacitly to Hag. 16a; Ẓiyuni, 49b. Ẓiyuni's views may be compared with those of a contemporary German writer who maintained that demons are immortal, and cannot generate their kind or increase their number or eat and drink (Thorndike, IV, 281). Such opinions are common in medieval Christian thought. Prof. Thorndike suggests that the elemental character which is here attributed to the demons may well explain why brutes more readily sensed them.

18. S. Ḥas. B 1155; cf. also Nishmat Ḥayim, III, 16; Ginzberg, Legends, VI, 192, n. 58: according to ‘Emek HaMelech (by Naftali Herz b. Jacob Elḥanan,

p. 276

a German Kabbalist of the sixteenth century) 140b, demons, both male and female, have their bodies and faces covered with hair, but their heads are bald.—Moses Taku, Oẓar Neḥmad, III, 61. The belief that demons could adopt animal and human forms played an important rôle in German folklore, which thus preserved the older Teutonic belief in gods who could invade the earth. It was especially prominent in the later witch-cults, in which, it was asserted, demons were worshiped in the shape of cat, goat, bull, dog, etc., or accompanied their witch-mistresses in these forms as "familiars"—cf. Grimm, II, 546; Summers, tot ff., 134 ff.; Murray, 205 ff.; also N. Brüll, Jahrbücher, IX (1889), 40.

19. S. Ḥas. 373; S. Ḥas. B 1146; Testament of Judah the Pious, 23; Ḥochmat HaNefesh, 20b.

20. Cf. Ber. 60b and 62a; Maḥ. Vit. 81, 735; Rokeaḥ, 344; Kol Bo 21; S. Ḥas. Tinyana, 9a; Oraḥ Ḥayim 3:1.

21. Kol Bo 69; cf. Shab. 109a;—R. Tam in Tos. Yoma 77b and Hul. 107b, quoted by many later writers;—Shab. 108b; Kol Bo 69; Semag, I, 69; Oraḥ Ḥayim 4:3;—Abrahams, Ethical Wills, 37;—Siddur Rashi, §578, pp. 280-1.

22. S. Ḥas. 1875.

23. Testament of Judah the Pious, 17-20, 58; Joseph Omeẓ, 351; see Scheftelowitz, Stell. Huhnopfer, 20-21, where parallels from many peoples are given. Fear of inhabiting a new house built upon unoccupied land is universally felt, and similar devices resorted to.

24. Yeb. 64b; S. Ḥas. 370, 1122, 1870, 1875; Toledot Adam veḤavah, 1:2, p. 1c; Terumat HaDeshen, 21 5; Joseph Omeẓ, 350-1; Abrahams, op. cit., I, 47; Jahrbücher, IX (1889), 21; simulated burial of the patient is a fairly common therapeutic device, cf. Seligmann, Mag. Heil- u. Schutzmittel, 146 ff.; Samter, 1 o8.

25. Rashbam, Pes. 111a; Rokeaḥ, 221; S. Ḥas. 1462; Güd. I, 206, referring to S. Ḥas. B 462, reads "like drops of blood" but I have not found such a text in any of the editions which I have consulted. S. Ḥas. B 1153. The belief that demons dwell or assemble in trees was also strongly held among the Germans, cf. Grimm, I, 62 ff., II, 539 ff.; Wuttke, 41.

26. Cf. Lauterbach, HUCA, II (1925), 369, n. 31, where the Talmudic and Midrashic sources are cited; also Ḥochmat HaNefesh, 31c; Orḥot Ẓadikim, 95b. Torat Ha‘Olah, II, 25, contains the view that certain sacrifices were slaughtered in the north of the temple area because they served to protect Israel from the demons who dwell in the north. According to Raziel, 15a, the north, which is the point of origin of cold and hail and sleet and tempests, was, like the demons, left uncompleted in the work of creation.

27. Ẓiyuni, 48d; a fifteenth-century German poet, Michael Behaim of Sulzbach, poked fun at a similar German belief:

Auch sagt man wie daz trollen
In Norwegen sein sollen.
Nu hon ich verr durchvarn die lant,
Das mir kein troll nie wart bekannt. (Hansen, 208)

28. Löwinger, JJV, II (1925), 166, n. 3, 168 ff.; see Grimm, I, 526 f., on the widely held belief in Northern Europe that a knife thrown into the heart of a whirlwind will produce a bloodstain—the blood of the spirit, or of the witch who inhabits the wind.—S. Ḥas. 379, 1463; Güd. I, 204, n. 5; this idea undoubtedly entered Jewish belief from the German. Thor (Donar), the Teutonic god of thunder and storms, was believed to fling wedge-shaped stones down from the heavens, a belief parallel to the classical and Oriental conceptions of gods who

p. 277

rain shafts and bolts upon the earth during storms. The gradual transformation of the heathen gods into demons, under the influence of Christianity, did not affect such attributes, and we find them displayed by the spirits of a later age. "Uralter Glaube war es, dass von den Elben gefährliche Pfeile aus der Luft herabgeschossen werden"; cf. Grimm, I, 138 ff., 149, 381.

29. The demonology and Satan lore of the Christian peoples (especially in Northern Europe) were strongly colored by the residue of heathen mythology which popular Christianity incorporated. The old gods and heroes and spirits lived on as Satanic creatures, with their old attributes and characters unaltered. As Wuttke (p. 36) writes: "Der Teufel des Volksglaubens ist eine bestimmte, sinnlich wahrnehmbare, körperliche Gestalt, die in allen ihren Besonderheiten dem Heidentume entlehnt ist and in den christlichen Urkunden gar keinen Anknüpfungspunkt hat, and auch seine meisten geistigen Eigentümlichkeiten sind heidnischen Ursprungs." The Jews of the Middle Ages, on the other hand, were far distant in time from their heathen origins, and such elements had long since disappeared or had been so effectively disguised as to have lost their influence in popular belief. It is significant, in this connection, that a thirteenth-century gloss to Ezek. 9:3 identifies "the man clothed in linen" of the vision as the ‏טובלא‎ (tiuvel, Teufel) rather than by a Hebrew term (Perles, Beiträge, 150).

30. Raben, 271, confused Shibbeta with the demons of uncleanness, which rest on unwashed hands, rather than on foodstuffs. R. Tam, however (Tos. Yoma, 77b and Ḥul. 7b; cf. Semag, I, 69), stated specifically that Shibbeta is not such a spirit. In either case washing the hands destroys or removes the spirit. Raben says of Shibbeta that he twists and breaks children's necks. See also Joseph Omeẓ, 349.

31. For the Talmudic references to these demons see Jastrow's Dictionary s. v.; cf. Abrahams, Ethical Wills, 48-9 and Rashi, Ps. 91:6.—See Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., 97, and Löwinger in JJV, II (1925), 157 ff.;—Rashi, II Sam. 7:14; ‘Emek HaMelech, Tikkune HaTeshubah 6, Kiriat Arba‘ 126; S. Ḥas. 1512.

32. Shab. 151b;—San. 96a; Nid. 16b;—Abrahams, op. cit., 48, "Do not leave an infant alone in the house by day or night, nor pass thou the night alone in any abode. For under such circumstances Lilit seizes man or child in her fatal embrace."—A similar conception of the seductive demoness is to be found in the Avesta; in Babylonia Lilit was called ardad lili, the "maid of the night." See Zoller, Filologische Schriften, III (1929), 122. One version of the Lilit legend has her deliver over to the prophet Elijah fifteen (or seventeen) of her names, which were to be used to keep off her unwelcome presence (cf. Gaster, MGWJ, XXIX [1880], 557 f.) . These names of Lilit were not known, or at least not used, in the Middle Ages.

33. See the following for a discussion of the origin and development of the Lilit concept: I. Lévi, REJ, LXVIII (1914), 15 ff.; M. Gaster, MGWJ, XXIX (1880), 554 ff. and Folk-Lore, XI (1900), 157 ff.; I. Zoller, Rivista di Antropologia, XXVII (Rome 1926), and Filologische Schriften, III (1929), 121 ff.; Bamberger, JJV, I (1923), 320 ff.; and Ginzberg's comment in his Legends, V, 87, n. 40. These writers are mainly interested in the lady's origins and do not specifically tackle the problem of her change of character in post-Talmudic times. Levi, however, does consider this question, and it is his opinion that the lamia aspect of Lilit is not part of the same tradition as the Talmudic version, and represents late borrowing from non-Jewish sources. While the germ of the later concept is unquestionably to be found in the Talmudic literature (Felix Perles, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, XVIII [Leipzig 1915], 180, has pointed out two passages in the Midrash that imply the Lamaššu character of Lilit, one of them making her eat her own children), its development was fostered by outside influences,

p. 278

as Lévi suggests. Gaster (in MGWJ) also suggests that the later Lilit legend represents the fusion of two folkloristic streams, the Talmudic and an oriental source, which he considers to have been Manichæan. This last, he shows in a fascinating folkloristic excursion, was also utilized by Bogomil, who in the tenth century founded in Bulgaria the neo-Manichæan sect which influenced, in somewhat altered form, the Albigenses in Southern France, and became the fountain out of which sprang a whole series of Eastern European legends. Gaster, then, places the fusing of these two elements in the East, during the tenth century or somewhat earlier; it was during this period that Bogomil lived, and that the Alphabet of Ben Sira, which contains the earliest Jewish version of this legend, was composed. However, the Lilit legend makes a much earlier appearance, as Gaster himself later pointed out (Folk-Lore), in a passage in the Testament of Solomon, ch. 57 (JQR, OS, XI [1899], 16), and Montgomery (76 ff.) has published a series of Aramaic incantations dating from about the seventh century, which show clearly that Lilit was already, at that time, possessed of both the older Lilit and the Lamaššu characters. This is close enough to Talmudic times to make it fairly certain that the dual character of Lilit had already been fashioned during the late Talmudic period, and was beginning to assert itself in Midrashic texts. It is important to remember, however, that fertility spirits are indigenous among all peoples, and that psychologically it is natural to expect that a spirit that desires men for herself will be jealous of the women who displace her, and will seek to harm them and their children. Such a development is especially to be expected when the fertility spirit already possesses the attributes of a night- or wind-demon which attacks men, as in this case. My point is that it is possible to belabor unduly the search for origins outside of the folk-mind and the folk-tradition.

I have used the text of "The Alphabet of Ben Sira," version B, printed in Eisenstein's Oẓar Midrashim (N. Y. 1915) I, 46-7; cf. also Tishbi, s. v. Lilit. Other conceptions of Lilit persisted in the Middle Ages, but we find no trace of them in Northern Europe. According to David de Pomis (Ẓemaḥ David, Venice 1587, p. 73), Lilit is a wild animal, or an evil spirit, or, as some say, a bird, which flits about alone at night and fills the air with its wailing. Solomon b. Abraham ibn Parḥon (in his Maḥberet Ha‘Aruch, written in Salerno in 1160), while he followed the folk-etymology, deriving the name from layil, "night," approached closely the standpoint of modern scholarship which sees in Lilit a wind-demon, when he said that "Lilit grows out of the wind just as the salamander grows from the fire." See Zoller, Filologische Schriften, III, 128-9, and Ginzberg, loc. cit.

34. Estrie, Old French, from the Latin, strix, striga, cf. Grimm, II, 868. στριέ originally signified the night-owl; in the early Middle Ages it came to mean the same as the German Hexe, "worunter man sich bald eine alte, bald eine junge Frau denkt." The word appears in various forms; cf. Rashi, Git. 69a; S. Ḥas. 1465; Ḥochmat HaNefesh 17a; Rokeaḥ 316; Güd. I, 203, n. 4, and n. 8; Toledot Adam veḤavah, 28:1, p. 182b; Ẓiyuni 9a.

Broxa, "maleficas et sortilegas mulierculas . . . quae vulgariter Broxæ nuncupantur" (Ducange, s. v.); Spanish, bruxa; Provencal, bruesche; originally denoted an unwholesome night-bird, and came like strix to mean "witch"; cf. Grimm, II, 86g. It appears in Toledot Adam, loc. cit., and in Güd., loc. cit., n. 4.

Mare—the origin of this word is uncertain, cf. Grimm, I, 384; S. Ḥas. 1465; Ḥochmat HaNefesh 26c; Güd., loc. cit., n. 6 and n. 8; Ẓiyuni, 9a.

WerwolfS. Ḥas. 1465; Güd., loc. cit., n. 4 and n. 8; cf. also Ginzberg, Adolf Schwarz Festschrift, Berlin 1917, P. 331.

35. S. Ḥas. 1465; Ẓiyuni 9a; Güd., loc. cit., n. 8. The following, from Ginzberg, Legends, V, 203-4, is also of interest here: "The German mystics (cf. Ẓiyuni,

p. 279

end of Noah) identify the woodmen, werwolves and similar monsters, known in German folklore, with the builders of the tower of Babel, and further maintain that they were Japhethites, who were punished in this manner." The source of this view is Midrash Aggadah, Gen. 111:8, which "remarks that when the tower fell, some of the people found inside were thrown into the water, others into the forest, while still others into the desert; the first became water-sprites, the second apes, and the third demons." Here we have in essence an expression of the view that the wicked become demons.

36. Cf. S. Ḥas. 1465, 1466; Rokeaḥ 316; Güd., loc. cit.

37. S. Ḥas. 1465-7; Testament of Judah the Pious, 5; Rokeaḥ, loc. cit.

38. Ẓiyuni, 9a, which adds that some Kabbalists call these creatures "stones," "night wolves," and "Satans." Ḥochmat HaNefesh 30d speaks of "forest women," who travel in groups of nine (the Waldfrauen, Waldweiber, Waldgeister, were very popular characters in German mythology and folklore; cf. Grimm, I, 358f.; Wuttke 47). This passage also mentions a type of demon whose feet are constructed backward, heels in front and toes behind; the sense is not altogether clear.—Ḥochmat HaNefesh, 26c; Güd., loc. cit., n. 6; cf. Grimm, I, 384: "Dich hat geriten der mar"; Wuttke, 272 f.; cf. also Rashi's use of caucher, calcare, in his comment on Ex. 9:17.

39. Güd., loc. cit., n. 8; Ẓiyuni 7a; Perles, Beiträge, 125; cf. Wuttke, 277; S. Ḥas. 1465.

40. Ḥochmat HaNefesh 17a lists the following obscure types: ‏זחולפו‎ which Güd., loc. cit., n. 7, suggests may be an error for werwolf, which seems unlikely; this creature also preys on humans; ‏בורוקולי‎: (which in Nishmat Ḥayim occurs as ‏בורקולאקאם‎; Güd. II, 366, thinks this may be a rendering of the old Slavic, vrkodlak, vrkodlak, which appears in Bulgarian and Slovakian as vrkolak, and in the White Russian dialect as wowkolak—"werwolf." But it is unlikely that this Slavic word should be found domesticated in Western Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century); ‏מיכיארו‎ and ‏יקונופו‎; cf. Güd. I, 217, n. 5. Perles (MGWJ, XXIX [1880], 334) suggests that the former word is probably megære or chimæra. Güd. (II, 336) thinks it may be a corruption of the Italian maliardo, "sorcerer."

41. Schiller-Szinessy, Cat. of Heb. Mss. in Cambridge, 162; cf. Grimm, I, 414 f. and III, 145; Wuttke, 43 f.; Güd., Quellenschriften, 156;—Perles, Graetz Jubelschrift, 8-9; cf. Grimm, I, 363 f.

42. Fae, Old French; Güd. I, 294; Malt Vit., 507-8; Disputation of R. Jeḥiel, 15.

43. Rashi, Me‘ila 17b, and Bek. 44b; cf. Blondheim and Darmesteter, Gloses Françaises . de Raschi, Paris 1929, p. 102. Tos. Me‘ila, loc. cit., has ‏למ״טוך‎, "a spirit having the appearance of a child, which teases and annoys the women." This word may be a provincial term for one of the lutins; or, as Grünbaum (Ges. Auf., 205) suggests, perhaps it should be read ‏לעטוך‎, Létiches, Letices, which are "Petits animaux très blancs et très agiles; aussi les prend on pour des esprits doux et folâtres, les âmes des enfants morts sans baptême." (Am. Bosquet, La Normandie, 214). This corresponds closely with the description in Tos. Me‘ila.

44. Perles, Beiträge, 146, 147 (from a thirteenth-century manuscript); cf. Grimm, I, 365 f. and Wuttke, 46.

45. Responsa of Meir of Rothenburg, ed. Cremona, 24; Tos. Yoma 54b; cf. Grimm, I, 404 f. The nixe was often pictured as a mermaid, cf. Wuttke, 48-9. According to ancient German myth the nixies drag people who unwarily go in swimming into the depths, where they drain their blood and then let their souls float up to the surface to take refuge under overturned pots and dishes; unless

p. 280

someone turns these vessels right side up and releases the captive spirits, they force them to join the ranks of the water spirits. This must be the source of the belief, encountered among Germans and Jews, that in order to discover the spot where the body of a drowned person has come to rest one should let a wooden dish float freely until it stops of its own accord; directly beneath it the corpse will be found. The Jewish authority who calls this belief to our attention, while himself faintly skeptical, suggests that it is a godsend for all women whose husbands have been drowned, but who cannot remarry because proof of their widowhood is lacking (Wuttke, 50, 255; Grimm, I, 411; Joseph Omeẓ, 352).

46. Rashi, Bek. 8a. The commentary on the Targum by David b. Jacob Szczebrzeszyn (Prague 1609) interprets the ‏בני ימא‎ of Targum II to Esther 1:2 as ‏וושר ווייבר בל״א‎, Wasserweib, mhd. wazzerwip—"water-nymph, water-sprite" (see Perles, Graetz Jubelschrift, 9 and Grimm, I, 360 f.). Ginzberg (Legends, V, 53, n. 168) writes, "It is uncertain whether this statement of Rashi is based on a different text or whether, influenced by the belief in fays and naiads, prevalent in the Middle Ages all through Europe, Rashi ascribes to the Talmud something which is alien to it." Since Rashi writes, "There are fish in the sea which are half human and half fish, called in French ‏שרוונ״א‎," he obviously has in mind the mermaids; we have seen that he does not hesitate to introduce other medieval spirits into his commentary. The Tos. on this passage interprets it in strict consonance with the text as we have it. The term "siren" occurs once or twice in Talmudic literature; see Jastrow, Dictionary, s. v. sironi. Lauterbach, HUCA, XI (1936), 214 ff., discusses Jewish beliefs concerning spirits that reside in bodies of water.

47. S. Ḥas. 1463; Güd. I, 205, n. 3;—S. Ḥas. 379. The dragon plays a dual rôle in medieval folklore, appearing in his more familiar form, as a fire-spitting serpent (which, however, is afraid of thunder), and as a demon who may enter a house in the shape of a man. (See, e.g., Thorndike, II, 562, and Wuttke, 45.) This account, incorporating elements of both rôles, is a transcription of some medieval folk-tale.

48. Cf. JE, II, 529, and Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., 229; see also Wuttke, 27, 66, Grimm, I, 51.—S. Krauss (MJV, LIII [1915], 3 ff.) examined the evidence painstakingly and reached the following conclusions which invalidate this popular theory: the so-called plaits are not plaits at all, but really two intertwined arms; this particular shape was not universally required or utilized among German Jews; the name Berches has nothing to do with the goddess Perchta, but is derived from the Old High German bergit, berchit, which designated the loaf also known as Brezel, Prezel, from the Middle Latin bracellus, brachellus, which, in turn, meant "arms." Krauss is very persuasive. Cf. also B. Kohlbach, "Das Zopfgebäck im jüdischen Ritus," Ztschr. Ver. Volksk., XXIV (1914), 265-71.

49. Or Zarua, I, 362; Agguda, 72b; Mordecai, Niddah 1086, p. 85e; cf. Güd. I, 215, n. 7 and Perles, MGWJ, XXIX (1880), 333.—Grimm, I, 384: "Der Nachthalb, Nachtmar, wickelt Haar der Menschen, Mähne and Schweif der Pferde in Knoten." In Tsarist Russia peasants kept a goat in the stable at night to frighten off demons from entangling the horses’ manes.

50. Cf. Perles, in Graetz Jubelschrift, 25 ff., where the subject is examined in detail; also Landau, MGJV, IV (1899), 146; Grimm, I, 220 ff.

51. Responsa of Moses Minz, 19; also Perles, loc. cit.; Landau, loc. cit. and Ztschr. Ver. Volksk., IX (1899), 72-77; Löw, Lebensalter, 105; Güd. III, 104-5; Bamberger, JJV, I. (1923), 328-9; Zoller, Filolog. Schriften, III (1929), 126; Samter, 63 ff. Perles suggested that the second element of the term, kreisch, was a corruption of the word Kreis (mhd. kreiz), "circle." The most potent protection against Lilit was afforded by a magic circle drawn around the bed of the

p. 281

lying-in woman and her baby, a practice known and observed at an early time. Perles thinks that we have in the word kreisch, or kreiz, a reminiscence of a similar device employed against Holle. The facts, however, do not warrant this stretching of a point, and, indeed, favor the earlier interpretation which included the shouting in the title; moreover, noise is as orthodox and effective an anti-demonic measure as the magic circle, and there is no warrant in the ceremony for ruling out one in favor of the other.

52. Perles, loc. cit., 24-5; Grimm, I, 377 and II, 780. Prof. Ginzberg called my attention to the connection between the prescription that the egg must be laid on a Thursday and the creation of fowl on that day (Gen. 1: 20); cf. also p. 129 above.

Next: Chapter IV