| Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 09:40 pm |
THE EXPULSION OF JEWS FROM SANAA
"… In the year of Alexander one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-two (1671 C.E.) the King named Isma'el died, and there was a famine, and many died. Then Ahmed, the son of Hassan, reigned in his stead, who was called al-Hassani, who expelled the Turks, and ruled by force, and was a man of exploits, and went up north and captured [those districts], and went as far as to al-Yafa' and captured it… and in the year of Alexander one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-seven (1676 C.E.), he destroyed the synagogues of the Jews. Then in the year of Alexander one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-eight (1677 C.E.) there was another famine, and in the year one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-nine (1678 C.E.), he expelled Israel unto the desert of Mawza, which is a bad place, and one of excruciating heat; its air being bad. No man could proceed upon the ground on account of their over weariness and the blisters which affected their feet. Now when the Jews left the city of Sanaa towards the desert of Mawza, there was a certain gentile whom they committed unto his trust and safekeeping several scrolls of the Law [and several books of the Talmud, and of Bibles and of Midrashic literature, in order not to carry them with them owing to the hardship of their journey, and especially since they had been driven out on a sudden, they and their wives and children. Now these books nearly filled up one large room, for they were of the opinion that they could appease the king, and return to take them away. And it came to pass that when they had left, that wicked one arose and lit by them [a bonfire], and burnt all of them. On that very hour, Israel became impoverished in all things, on account of their meager books and very few new commentaries. Nothing remained except the smallest portion of books which they took with them for their own needs in study. Now while they ventured out, many pious persons perished along the way, and several families were taken away entirely from off the face of the earth. It has been told to us that about eighty persons died while en route to Mawza. Now this happened on the Sabbath, during the reading of the Torah section known as 'Be-Huqothai' (i.e. Lev. 26:3), and there stood up the greatest man amongst them to read , 'And I shall bring thee into the land of thine enemies, or at the time when their uncircumcised heart should be brought under submission [etc.]' (Lev. 26:41), when he had finished [reading], he began to expound on that portion of the Law which he read, and the spirit of G-d moved him, and he said that the present decree had been given from the start since ancient times, even kept by him, and neatly arranged in the scroll of the Law. For the words, àåéáéäí àå àæ éëðò ìááí , the last letter of each word spells Mawza! By the end of the year, the blessed G-d took mercy upon them and the king was appeased by agreeing to bring back the Jews..." END.