Friday, March 29, 2019

Turning non-Jews into donkeys



The Talmud is very complicated, not every statement is a law, sometimes it is commentary or the opinion of a certain Rabbi, sometimes a stipulation or refutation, however the quotes below should give you a good idea about Talmudic reasoning on certain issues.

Jewish law is very clear, even Jews who learn from magicians are to be killed unless they are learning to instruct against the practice (here). But in the Talmud we learn of a respectable Jew named Ze'ire who is traveling in Egypt where it is said even Jews are practicing sorcery. He buys an ass from a vendor that the Talmud suggests was a Jew himself, but when Ze'iri waters the ass it turns into a board because it was a product of sorcery. The vendor (likely a Jew) refunds Ze'iri his money. But what does Ze'iri doe? He goes to an inn where he meets a woman he believes is a witch; there is no indication she meant Ze'iri any harm. Ze'iri uses a magic drink to turn her into an ass and begins riding her. Thankfully her friends save her. One of the few times we ever see magic in the Talmud and it is used to turn a non-Jew into an ass and use her. Both Rabbis and Noahides themselves often refer to non-Jews and animals and donkey who exist for nothing but to be used by Jews (here).

Turning a Non-Jew Into An Ass And Riding Her In The Talmud
 Ze'iri happened to go to Alexandria in Egypt and bought an ass. When he was about to water it, it dissolved, and there stood before him a landing board.22 The vendors then said to him; ‘Were you not Ze'iri, we would net return you [your money]: does anyone buy anything here without first testing it by water?’23  
 Jannai24 came to an inn. He said to them, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ and they offered him shattitha.25 Seeing the lips of the woman [who brought him this] moving,26 he [covertly] spilled a little thereof, which turned to snakes. Then he said, ‘As I have drunk of yours, now do you come and drink of mine.’ So he gave her to drink, and she was turned into an ass he then rode upon her into the market. But her friend came and broke the charm [changing her back into a human being], and so he was seen riding upon a woman in public. 
FOOTNOTES:
(22) The ass had been a product of sorcery, created out of a landing board. Things thus created reverted to their original form when brought into contact with water.
(23) The scholars of the first century referred frequently to Egypt as the original home of magic arts (Blau, Das aljudische Zauberwesen, pp. 37-49). Sorcery was very rife in Alexandria, and was practised by Jews too, who were more influenced by pagan ideas in this city than in any other place of their dispersion. Among the less intelligent, Jewish and pagan, witchcraft were freely indulged in (Schurer, Geschichte, 3rd ed., III, 294-304). It is not clear in this passage whether Ze'iri had bought the ass from a Jew or Gentile, but the fact that such particular respect was shewn to him would seem to indicate that the vendor was a Jew.
(24) Rashi observes that this is the reading, not R. Jannai; for a scholar would not practise witchcraft
(25) A drink prepared of flour and water. Cf. Lat. ptisanarium, a decoction of barley groats
(26) By this he recognised her to be a witch, probably muttering a charm.
Source - (1961 Soncino Babylonian Talmud,  Sanhedrin 67b, Retrieved From: http://www.come-and-hear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_67.html)

Ze'iri in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia 

Amora of the third century; born in Babylonia. He sojourned for a long time in Alexandria, and later went to Palestine, where he became a pupil of Rabbi Johanan. In the name of Ḥanina b. Ḥama he transmitted the maxim that he who in the presence of a teacher ventures to decide a legal question, is a trespasser ('Er. 3a). He also transmitted a saying by Ḥanina to the effect that the Messiah would not arrive until all the arrogant ones had disappeared (Sanh. 98a). During his sojourn in Alexandria he purchased a mule which, when he led it to water, was transformed into a bridge-board, the water having lifted the spell which rested on the animal. The purchase-money was refunded to Ze'iri, and he was advised to apply the water-test thenceforth to everything he purchased, in order to ascertain whether it had been charmed (ib. 67b). When Eleazar arrived in Palestine he sought information from Ze'iri concerning men known in ancient traditions (B. B. 87a). Ze'iri was praised by Raba as an exegete of the Mishnah (Zeb. 43b). He was proffered the daughter of Rabbi Johanan for a wife, but refused because he was a Babylonian and she a Palestinian (Ḳid. 71b). Among those who transmitted in his name may be mentioned Rabbi Ḥisda (Ber. 43a), R. Judah ('Ab. Zarah 61b; Men. 21a), R. Joseph (Ned. 46b), R. Naḥman ('Ab. Zarah 61b), and Rabbah (Ned. 46a). 
Bibliography:
Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor, iii. 644;
Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. 123a;
Blau, Altjüdisches Zauberwesen, p. 158, note 5, Strasburg, 1898;
Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 134b.
Source: - (Ze'iri, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, Retrieved From: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15218-ze-iri

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