Thursday, January 16, 2014

On an interesting gravestone from 1463

I was looking through a book called Das jetzt Anno 1723 lebende Regensburg... which is, as you surmise, about the history of Regensburg. I noticed at the end it has a number of transcriptions of gravestones in the Jewish cemetery. All are worth looking at, but here is one that caught my interest, because it calls the young woman "הבחורה." At first I thought that could have been a transcription error - there are others - and it may have actually said "הבתולה." I think this usage is interesting. Perhaps it was common, but I've not come across it before. In any case, another stone in the book, for a married woman, uses it; Justina bat Rabbi Schelomia, which one imagines, was the 15th century diminutive of Shelomo, eshet Rabbi Menachem.

Here is my translation:
Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night (Jer. 8:23)
On the passing of the modest lass ("בחורה"), Miss Gutrut,
Daughter of Rabbi Jacob Halin, [her] slumber was requested from Heaven*, on Friday,
The 24th of Kislev (Dec. 15), in the year
224 (1463)
*If I got that right.

It is worth noting that the verse in Jeremiah ends with the phrase "for the slain of the daughter of my people," so one wonders if it was left off because Miss Gertrude died of natural causes or if, to the contrary, this verse was chosen because she was, indeed, slain.

One final note. Another grave, from 1540, is from a woman named Blume (that's how the German translator understood it) and here is how it is written in Hebrew letters: פלומא.


  1. Fred, a few pedantic observations. The secular date corresponding to 24 Kislev [5]224 would have been December 6 (Julian) 1463, not December 15 (Gregorian) 1463 . However, regardless of the secular date, the 24th of Kislev was a tuesday not a friday in [5]224. Based on other obvious errors in the Hebrew typography ( zayin instead of vav in ve-eini; and gimel instead of heh in ve-evkeh, I would propose that the year 224 is wrong. the resh and kaf are likely correct and the dalet should probably be replaved with a vav. If that is a correct assumption, then you have the date as 24 kislev [5]226.(December 13 (Julian) 1465,)

    Also, I don't think the father's name was Halin. I think it was simply R' Ya'akov. The next four words(if transcribed correctly in the printed book) would seem to be "laid [to] rest [and] called to heaven"

  2. Good point, especially about "halin." Thank you!

    If this is not when pedantry is called for, when is it? ;)

  3. Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps6:09 PM, January 16, 2014

    Name experts claim that Bluma was derived from Paloma (Spanish for "dove")

  4. JOE_THE_PROFESSOR9:38 PM, January 16, 2014

    Delete the word slumber from the translation. The inscription uses the Nithpael of BQSh; a space was incorrectly inserted.

  5. ... while other experts assert that Bluma (Blima) originates from the word 'flower' as is in Germanic languages.

  6. Just a small additional information: The gravestones aren't from the cemetery. The "old" cemetery was already destroyed 1723. These gravestones were parts of buildings in Regensburg. The name of the building is the headline of every description. This is a non-Jewish book, so I guess, some errors are possible ;-)

  7. Indeed. The unvoiced P- fits with the coterritorial galchish Ratisbonne dialect/accent.

  8. The old Regensburg cemetery was destroyed immediately after the expulsion in 1519, after the death of emperor Maximilian I.
    The headstone described in a publicatioin of 1723 (!) ist still extant. I will post a photograph soon. In order to end the speculations about text, transcription, translation - which are, of course, faulty.
    What is the problem with "habachura"? Its very frequently used e.g. in Worms, so that one must come to the conclusion that it does not only mean "lass" (which might be a questionable rendering) but is also to be read "habechura" "the noble, the chosen one", same as one of the biblical meanings of the male "bachur". "Pluma" is the Bavarian dialect pronounciation (why only "galhish"?) for "Bluma", so nothing 'Palomian' here.

  9. Galchish nur als scherzhafter Kontrast zu Yiddish, d. h. die christlichen und die jüdischen Dialekte oder Sprachen des Deutschen, die in der Regel phonetisch (aber nicht zwangsläufig phonologisch) weitgehend übereinstimmen.

  10. Looks to me like "ha-bachura" (at least in this epitaph) is in fact to be taken as a noun, modified by "ha-tzenua." To read both words as adjectives for Miss Gutrud would seem awkward; in that case, a better phrasing would have been "Gutrud ha-bechura ve-ha-tzenua."

  11. Joe, I think you are right. which leads me to believe that Fred may have been right in his initial assumption that Halin is a surname. I have since found several examples of the surname Halin in at least two Ashkenazic mss.

  12. You are absolutely right; Gutrut is a "bachura", indeed. I added that remark on the possibility of "bechura", because it may be difficult sometimes to decide how to understand it, as a noun or as an epitheton.
    And thanks to Ph. Minden, too!

  13. Are you familiar with the epigraphic study done on a Jewish cemetery in Argis, Armenia that dates back to the 13 th and 14th centuries?

    This is an inscription from one of the tombstones which you may find of interest:

    הרחמן יחון ויחמול וירח(ם) על נפש הנערה הבתולה

    המאורשה אסתר בת מיכאל יהא חלקה עם אמנו ש'(=שרה)

    (...על נשמתה) הק'(=הקדושה) על קבור'(=קבורתה) הטהורה קד'(=קדושה)

    This is the explanation given by the heads of the team (Amit and Stone).

    ביאור: הרחמן יחון... על נפש - בדומה לפתיחה בכתובת על מצבת הנער דלעיל ומקבילות נוספות שמצאנו, אך כאן הפועל הוא "יחון", בשונה מן המקבילות שבהן "יחול".

    הנערה הבתולה המאורשה - על פי אזכור יחידי במקרא של צירוף זה בדברים כב, כג.

    יהא חלקה עם אמנו ש' - קיצור של שרה. בכתובת הקדשה ארמית על כיסא מבזלת (קתדרא דמשה) שנתגלה בבית כנסת מתקופת התלמוד בכורזים, מופיע הסיום "יהי לה חולק עם צדיקיה" (תרגום: יהי לו חלק עם הצדיקים).

    (על נשמתה) הק' וכו' - על פי מקבילות במצבות אחרות יכולנו להשלים חלק ממה שנשבר "על נשמתה" ומה שנכתב בקיצורים: הקדושה, קבורתה, קדושה.

    דכת' (=דכתיב) שקר החן והבל היופי אשה יראת יויו

    ועוד תנו לה ג/מ נכתב בשמונה עשר בתשרי


    ביאור: שקר החן... יראת יויו - ציטוט ממשלי לא, ל.

    יויו - צורה מקובלת בקרב קהילות המזרח לציון השם המפורש.

    ועוד - מכוון להשלמת הפסוק: "היא תתהלל", שלא נכתבה מחוסר מקום.

    תנו לה - תחילת הפסוק הבא - שם שם, לא.

  14. I would just like to point out the the phrase "הבחורה הצנועה" is explained in the German translation beneath it as "the exceptional pious..." (or something like that). So it seems that it has nothing to do with the unmarried state.



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