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3. Appointment deed of a cantor in the Karaite community, Cairo (1575)

p. 155-160

Texte intégral


MS St. Petersburg, Evr. Ar. II 13781

1It seems that the document is torn and its end is missing. On the verso there is an appointment deed for the same cantor in Hebrew, but its wording is different.


2Note2 Note3 Note4 Note5


3Note6 Note7 Note8 Note9 Note10

Arabic Transcription



4With God’s help (1) On the date of Monday, 28th of Av, may God turn it for the better, of the year 5335 of the creation [=1575 CE],11 prattle12 (2) and quarrel and dispute had happened. Everyone who wanted to be appointed to the duties of the late, the honourable R. Jacob the cantor, because he was the chief cantor (3) and a beadle in the Bet Simcha synagogue, and a [children’s] teacher—may he rest in heaven—was found unsuitable for it. None of them was acceptable. He who (4) wants it stubbornly stood up against our master, our great Exilarch Aaron—may his Rock and Redeemer [=God] protect him—and against the honourable R. Joseph al-Tawrīzī—may his Rock and Redeemer protect him—the judges. Thus, the aforementioned (5) judges ordered, according to what they saw “with the eye of fear [of God],” and chose R. Judah al-Tawrīzī the physician—may his Rock and Redeemer protect him—to be a chief cantor, (6) because he has a pleasant voice and he is expert on every matter; and to be a beadle of the synagogue, because he is suitable for it. He will (7) serve 3 years without salary;13 and should obey the aforementioned judges’ orders; and he should not disobey them in any religious matter. (8) He should fulfil the duties of the synagogue’s service, as the former beadles have done; and he should fulfil (9) the duties of the cantorship in weddings, circumcision celebrations, and mourning ceremonies, and should not be negligent14 in doing any of it, in neither large nor (10) small matters. He should behave humbly with the congregation and relate to them with good heart, and greet the congregation, their old and their young (11), and not do it lazily.15 He should not say: “I am working without salary, nobody has a claim on me, and I will do (12) only what I choose”; and he should serve his friend as well as his enemy, in greetings and condolences and the like. Then R. (13) Judah al-Tawrīzī was brought,16 and heard all of what is written about him above, and he agreed with all that was mentioned above (14) and accepted it for himself, according to what is mentioned above for the aforementioned period. After that, the aforementioned judges assigned (15) that it is not possible17 for any of the congregation (members)—may they be blessed—to be appointed instead of him, nor to replace him,18 because he is doing it only “in the name (16) of heaven” [=with pure intentions], and there is no option for any to object to him with obstinacy. And […] everything that was done. All of that happened of their [free] will…


5Line 2

6יקבו . Used as auxiliary verb; see Blau (2006, 47); Friedman (2016, 60).

7Line 4

8בחיב . Bi-imperfect ‘he wants’.

Notes de bas de page

1 Published with Hebrew translation in Arad (2016).

2 2=Image

3 3=Image

4 4=Image

5 =Image

6 =Image

7 7=Image

8 = Image. See Wehr (1994, 749), Image.

9 Should probably be: יתקלקל.

10 =Image

11 According to the Rabbanite calendar, 28th of Av 5335 occurred on Thursday, 14 August 1575. The Karaite calendar was not predetermined in that period. The date of the deed could be, therefore, one of the close Mondays to the Rabbanite date (11.8.1575 or 18.7.1575) or even a month later, if the Karaites added one month to the Hebrew Calendar that year.

12 See Wehr (1994, 933): قال وقيل / قيل وقال ‘long palaver; idle talk, prattle, gossip’. See also Kazimirski (1860, 837) قيل وقال.

13 See Kazimirski (1860, 329).

14 See Blau (2004, 193), خلف.

15 See Hinds and Badawi (1986, 715), اتقلقل.

16 Before the judges.

17 See Wehr (1994, 461), سبيل; Friedman (2016, 558), כאן לה סביל.

18 I have not found the eighth form of the root بدل in the dictionaries. This is perhaps a scribal error for what should read יתבדלה. Blau (2004, 36) attests to the existence of بدل in the eighth form, translating ‘to profane’, but this meaning is not appropriate here.

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