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Cairene Purim, the

(616 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Cairene Purim is a local holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jews of Cairo in 1524 from Aḥmad Pasha, a tyrannical Ottoman governor. Aḥmad, the third vizier of Sulaymān I (Suleiman the Magnificent), arrived in Egypt in January 1524. Disappointed by the governorship, because he had hoped that Sulaymān would promote him to a higher post, he left no doubt as to his intention to establish his own sultanate in Egypt. Forming an alliance with the Mamluks, he ordered his name to be mentioned in Friday sermons at local mosques, instructed the head of the mint, a Jew named Abraham Castro, t…

Sambari, Joseph ben Isaac

(1,058 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Joseph ben Isaac Sambari, who lived in Cairo probably between 1640 and 1703, was a scholar with unique interests. Whereas most of his contemporaries had no interest in writing history, Sambari, in addition to engaging in biblical studies, was also a noted historian. His teacher was Ḥananiah Barhon, and his patron was Raphael Joseph, the chief financier (Ar. ṣarrāf bāshī) of the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Qaraqash ʿAlī. Like David Conforte, Sambari attended Abraham Scandari’s rabbinic academy, and over the years he made considerable use of its library. Shimon Shtober, who has writte…

Cairo Collection, The

(614 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
The  Cairo Collection consists of more than one hundred photocopied manuscripts, mostly from Egypt, dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. In the 1980s this collection was brought from a synagogue in Cairo to the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. Most of the manuscripts are Jewish liturgical texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Judeo-Arabic. The documents in the collection have made it possible to reconstruct…

Hypercorrection

(3,452 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
The phenomenon of hypercorrection is not at all unusual in most languages. Hypercorrection is especially important in Arabic because of its continuuglossic situation (Hary 2003), and because the phenomenon is a mechanism for change in all languages (Labov 1972:178–180). Whenever a variety of a language with social, religious, economic, or other prestige comes into contact with a variety without such prestige, speakers and writers of the latter will, at times, try to use forms of the former even if the forms are unnecessary in that linguistic env…

Bible Translations

(8,318 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary | David Bunis | Dalia Yasharpour | Meira Polliack
1. Judeo-Arabic (Ninth to Thirteenth Century) In ancient and medieval times, Jews translated the Hebrew Bible into their spoken tongues, such as Greek, Aramaic, and Arabic (as well as many other languages and vernaculars employed in specific periods and places). Unlike the various degrees of prohibition regarding scriptural translation in Islamic (as well as Christian) medieval lore and theology, there was no halakhic or theological prohibition of scriptural translation per se among the Jews, although ther…