May 23, 2002

In this Issue:
*The Samaritan Tradition

*Holy Sites on Mount Gerizim

*An Early Samaritan Scholar: Kennicott

*A Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern

*Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: A Rare Samaritan Ketubah

*Detailed Album on Samaritan Cooking, Traditions and Customs Published.

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Counting of the Omer to this day is 27 days.

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The Messianic Hope of the Samaritans

By Jacob, Son of Aaron

An Early Samaritan Scholar: Kennicott, Benjamin, 1718-83, English clergyman and biblical scholar. His long career at Oxford was one of devotion to learning. He was rector of Culham, Oxfordshire, from 1753 to 1783. With the aim of preparing an improved Hebrew text of the Old Testament, he secured the assistance of other scholars in the study of Hebrew manuscripts. Besides the many printed editions, 615 Hebrew manuscripts and 16 manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch were collated to produce his edition, the Vetus testamentum Hebraicum cum variis lectionibus (1776-80).

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Samaritan Interactive CD-ROM that works on a Windows or Macintosh pc. Exhibits many photos, mini-movies. Addresses the Samaritan religion, chronicles, community, language and literature. The Samaritan Singers reform (Osher sings with them on this cd-rom) their music on the CD-ROM. It is full of information.
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The Samaritan Tradition

By Osher Sassoni

  What is required for the Passover meal (food) that must be eaten with the meat? First before eating the Passover sacrifice, everyone needs to eat a peace of bitter herb, like as it is written in the Torah, "They shall eat the meat in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs". (Exodus 12:9) It is to remember the hard life of the people of Israel in Egypt when they were slaves. The meat must be eaten with unleavened bread, it’s not that every piece you taking must be with a piece of it, but you shall eat it with unleavened bread. Before eating the meat you need to eat a peace of the unleavened bread and a piece of the Matza (unleavened bred) again as a remembrance to the misery of the people of Israel. 

   Is there a restriction on what one can drink at the Passover Sacrifice, water, apple juice, and beer? There are no restrictions on what to drink at the Passover Sacrifice. It is usually something simple like water, sometimes (Lemonade), but always something that was made of home production. 

   Does the wood used to burn in Tanoors (ground-ovens) have to come from a certain place and is there any history from this place? No, there is no obligation of the place where the wood must be taken from; it is usually a dried wood of olives trees, which is good for the fire. 

   Are copper water kettles being used at the Passover sacrifice? Till some years ago, there were two ways to clean the sheep from his skin, one was to take off the skin with a knife and the other,  was to take it off with hot water. There were two casks filled in water and heated by fire. Every one who did it that way took a

little cooper kettle, fill it with water, and use it to take off the skin from the lamb. But it was too slow this way. Nowadays people prefer the first method that is simple and much faster. 

   During Passover the lambs are placed on oak skews and placed in the Tanoors (ground-oven); are the skews marked for each family, or does it matter if one eats of another's lamb? Everyone has his own duty to mark in some way his own lamb. Every one takes his own lamb because sometimes there are families with more souls that require a bigger lamb. But sometimes mistakes happened. 

    After the Passover, when and who cleans the ashes of the Tanoors and are there any prayers or religious services for cleaning out the ashes of these Tanoors? Two or more days after the sacrifice strange workers are invited to clean the sacrifice square, but only after it had been double-checked that all the meat was burnt by fire. The ashes inside the ovens usually are cleaned very close to the next sacrifice. There is nothing religious in cleaning the ovens, and that's why there are no religious prayers or anything during the cleaning. 

   Is the place of the Passover Sacrifice still the same place on the  mount that it has always been? The location of the Passover Sacrifice of today has been in the same place for the last hundred years. A wealthy Samaritan purchased the square from the government during those years. Some years ago, bones of sacrificial lambs where excavated on the top of the mount.

Holy Sites on Mount Gerizim

   When the Samaritans visit the holy mount on their pilgrimage they visit their traditional sacred sites. The Samaritans assemble at seven stations, first the twelve Stones of Joshua, the Altar of Adam and his son Seth, the Eternal Hill, God will Provide, the altar of Isaac's sacrifice, Altar of Noah and then return to the Eternal Hill.

   The first stop, the twelve stones of Joshua are the twelve stones that Moses had instructed the Israelites to erect on Mount Gerizim (SP. Deut 27:4). The Stones are located on the west side of the mount.

   The Altar of Adam and Seth resides on Gerizim. Adam was made of the dust of Gerizim and lived here. And located on the summit is the seven steps of stone used by Adam in coming out of Paradise. It is also the location where Jacob saw the ladder in his dream, with the angels descending and ascending on it. When he awoke from his dream he called it 'the gate of Heaven.'

   In the Samaritan Text of Exodus 23:17 it is written "Aron", i.e. the Ark of the Covenant, while the Masoretic Text (MT) has written, "before the Lord." The sacrifice was to be preformed before the Lord (SP. Deuteronomy xii. 26: “But thy offerings and thy vows, which thou vowest and consecratest to God, carry and bring over to the place which God chose.”).

   The Eternal Hill is a large flat rock that is approximately 48' x 36'. This is the holiest of all the sites on the mount and is  called the 'Sakhra,' meaning the 'Holy of Holies'. This is the location that of where the Tabernacle once stood and will again. Blessings are recited at this local. This is the original rock and has it's revile in Jerusalem! Scripture denoted a revile stone in the song of Moses, "For their rock is not as our Rock" (Deut 32:1-43).

   The Altar called 'El-elohe-Yisra'el (Genesis 33:20) was named and built by Jacob.

   The Altar of Isaac was established also from a pilgrimage of Isaac and Abraham (Genesis xxii.). “And Abraham called the name of that place YHWH-Jireh,” that is, “GOD-IS-SEEN.”

   Noah built his first altar here after the flood. It was the one pure and sacred spot which, having raised above the waters of the flood, no corpse had defiled.

Shomron (Photo by Shomron, 2000, Eternal Hill on Mount Gerizim)

 An insert in "A Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern," Edited by Charles Dudley Warner. Vol. XLIV, The International Society, New York, 1897, between pg. 188-9.

Samaritan Writing

From a copy of the Pentateuch executed near the end of the XIth century.

   "The Samaritan is considered one of the most ancient of Eastern alphabets, and as preserving the most evident traces of the formation of an alphabetical system of writing. This opinion is founded upon the names which are given to the letters of this alphabet, and which are significative; thus, Aleph (A) signified an ox, Beth (B) a house, Ghimel (G) a camel, Duleth (D) a gate, and so forth, the assumption being that the form of the letter had a direct relation to the object designated by its name; for example, that the figure of an ox was in some degree given to the letter A, and this letter was called Aleph from the name of this animal, which commences with the sound A. As if the figure of a bull were given as the written sign of the sound B, because its name commences with the letter which expresses this sound. Since, however, the actual figures of the Samaritan alphabet have no longer even a distant resemblance to the object indicated by the names of the letters, it is probable that they represent a second state of the alphabet, the first probably derived from the Egyptian, being lost. In any event, it is the most ancient of the Hebrew alphabet. This historical fact reaches back to the period of the schism or separation of the ten tribes, carried captive to Babylon in the 7th century B.C. After the return from the captivity, the ten tribes used a new alphabet of Chaldaic origin, which now bears the name of the Hebrew or Hebrew-Chaldaic, while the two tribes remaining in Samaria preserved their ancient alphabet, which has remained to the present time the name of Samaritan.

   The fac-simile is taken from a manuscript in the Bibliotheque Royal at Paris, containing the Samaritan Pentateuch. A note in the manuscript says it was executed at the end of 11th century."-From Universal Paleography, by M.J.B. Silvestre.

Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: A Rare Samaritan Ketubah

     Of greatest interest and rarity is a decorative Samaritan ketubah, inscribed in the Samaritan language, for the wedding of the groom, Tamim ben Yisrael ben Yishmael Danafi, and his bride, Pu'ah bat Abraham ben Marhib Safari, which was solemnized in Shechem (Nablus) March-April 1901. The Samaritans, an ancient Jewish sect, go back to biblical days. Their scriptures are the Five Books of Moses, and their religion centers on the meticulous observance of Pentateuchal law and worship at Mt. Gerizim, especially the offering up of the Paschal sacrifice there. They observe kashrut (dietary laws), laws of purity, circumcision, and seven holidays — among them Passover, Shavuot, Sukkoth, the Day of Atonement, Sh'mini Atzeret and a festival of the seventh month celebrated on the same day as the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

   A Samaritan ketubah is an oddity and rarity in a display of ketuboth. Unlike the other ketuboth whose language is Hebrew and Aramaic, this is in the Samaritan language, the language of an ancient Jewish sect, now all but extinct. Let us record the name of the bride and groom whose 1901 marriage was their commitment to Samaritan survival when they numbered but one hundred and ninety: Tamim ben Yisrael ben Yishmael Danafi and his bride, Pu'ah bat Abraham ben Marhib Safari, (Samaritan Ketubah, Shechem, (Nablus), 1901, Hebraic Section, Library of Congress Photo).



    A new book on the Samaritans, by Danchow Arnon, Batia Tsedaka and Zippora Sassoni, in a fine detailed edition combining text and photographs, has recently been published by Israel's Green Head Press. The idea of publishing the book in this format originated with Batia and Zippora, two veteran educators in Israel. Prior to their retirement a few years ago, Batia and Zippora taught two generations of children; Batia has also been the principal of schools in Tel Aviv, Bet Dagan and Holon. Both women are also known for their fabled skill in the art of cooking; accordingly, over the years, they collected hundreds of recipes of Samaritan cuisine, with the intent of publishing a compilation of Samaritan cooking. In their efforts, they were assisted by Danchow Arnon, for many years a photographer and graphic artist, operator of a school for hikers and nature-lovers within and outside Israel, and first and foremost an excellent author who has already published a number of successful books. Arnon proposed that the two women join him in investing their personal funds in a comprehensive first book on Samaritan customs and traditions, with selected recipes from the Samaritan kitchen woven into the text. The result is an ornate, esthetically pleasing book full of breath-taking photographs by Arnon, which appeal to those who seek the good taste of special traditions, interesting customs, and especially dishes not often encountered, blended into the original, ancient taste of the Land of Israel. The editors of "A.B." contributed several Samaritan folk tales to the book, which have been skillfully interspersed among the various subjects and recipes. All of the material was written and edited by Arnon, in a flowing style which appeals to the heart and soul of the reader. From all these viewpoints, this is an unprecedented book. For the first time, a detailed book of Samaritan customs and traditions, including an impressive collection of clear photographs, has been published. All the advantages described above will win this book a place of honor on the shelves of those who love the Land of Israel… and of those who love good food. (A.B. News Services)

The book may be purchased at our web store but sorry to say that it is only in Hebrew at this time.

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