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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gedaliah of Semyatich's Account of the Land of Israel [ca. 1716] -- Part Two

Gedaliah came from Semyatich [Siemiatycze] in Poland to Jerusalem in 1700. He published his book, Sha'alu Shlom Yerushalayim, in 1716. He gave attention to the travails of everyday life for dhimmis in the Land of Israel.

The Muslims do not allow entry to the Temple area to any member of another faith, unless he converts to their religion-- for they claim that no member of another religion is sufficiently pure to enter this holy spot. They never weary of claiming that, although God had originally chosen the people of Israel, He had since abandoned them on account of their iniquity in order to choose the Muslims.
In the Land of Israel, no member of any other religion besides Islam may wear the green color, even if it is a thread [of cotton] like that with which we decorate our prayer shawls. If a Muslim perceives it, that could bring trouble. Similarly, it is not permitted to wear a green or white turban. On the Sabbath, however, we wear white turbans, on the crown of which we place a piece of cloth of another color as a distinguishing mark.
The Christians are not allowed to wear a turban, but they wear a hat instead, as is customary in Poland. Moreover, the Muslim law requires that each religious denomination wear its specific garment so that each people may be distinguished from one another. This distinction also applies to footwear. Indeed, the Jews wear shoes of a dark blue color, whereas Christians wear red shoes. No one can use green, for this color is worn solely by Muslims.
[quoted in Bat Yeor, The Decline of Eastern Christianity. . . , p 378]

Gedaliah points out that the Muslims were very aware that, according to their religion's teachings [found in the Quran], the Jews were chosen. This is associated in the Quran with the divine assignment of the Holy Land to the Jews. See Sura 5:12, 20-22, inter alia. But the Muslims found an excuse to deny Jewish chosenness and, more significantly today, Jewish rights to their Land . The Jews had supposedly been wicked, and so had lost their rights to the Land. Therefore, how do the Muslims today explain Jewish control over the Land of Israel [that part west of the Jordan river] from 1967 until 1994 [when the Rabin-Peres-Beilin government gave up Gaza and Jericho to the mass murderer and monumental liar, arafat]??

Concerning the Temple Mount, there is evidence in documents from the Cairo Genizah, etc., that Jews were allowed to pray on the Temple Mount in the early years of Arab rule in Jerusalem. At a later period, the Arabs still employed Jews to clean up the Temple Mount compound. Further, Jews were long allowed --as it seems from documents cited by Moshe Gil-- to pray in an entry hall to the Mount on the west side, an entry hall on the ground level of the Tyropoeon Valley, from which hall stairs rose to the Temple Mount surface. This hall was blocked up by rubble in the late 1980s by the Muslim waqf officials with the express purpose of preventing Jews from entering the area underneath the Temple Mount through that ancient entrance. However, the outside of the entrance can be seen on tours of the Western Wall tunnel. This tunnel was actually formed when Muslims in the Mamluk period built houses and other structures on the level of the Temple Mount itself along the Western Wall considerably above the level of the ancient, Second Temple era, street, leaving hollows beneath these structures, thus creating a tunnel along the Western Wall. The lower level of the Western Wall is relatively intact throughout its whole length, although only a fraction of that length of wall is exposed.

Also note the detailed system of humiliations imposed on the non-Muslims, going down to the colors they were allowed or compelled or forbidden to wear in their attire. These rules were of course not restricted to Jerusalem. The famous work of Arab literature, The Thousand and One Nights, reports the differing colors associated with different religious groups in at least one of the stories that make it up, "The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince."

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Coming: Gedaliah's account continued, poems of Zion, some more recent crucial events, nowadays little discussed, if known at all, etc.


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