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Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature$
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Jean Baumgarten and Jerold C. Frakes

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276332.001.0001

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Terrestrial Suffering in a Topsy-Turvy World

Terrestrial Suffering in a Topsy-Turvy World

Chapter:
(p.328) 11 Terrestrial Suffering in a Topsy-Turvy World
Source:
Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature
Author(s):

Jean Baumgarten

, Jerold C. Frakes
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276332.003.0011

There are three topics that illustrate the relationship between Jewish texts and the lived history of the Jewish people. First, there are historical poems linked to the elegiac tradition of Hebrew poetry, preserving the memory of the daily misfortunes of the Jewish quarter. Second, there are books of medicine (sifrey refuous) that illustrate how receptive the Jews were to the cultural traditions of the societies in which they lived. Third, there is the period of the festival of Purim, serving as an antidote to the tears and suffering of Jewish life and signaling the triumph of laughter and transgression, as well as the creation of a utopian society. The Purim plays, which form the beginnings of modern Jewish theatre, illuminate the peculiarly Ashkenazic role of dream and play in the culture.

Keywords:   sifrey refuous, medical texts, Purim, historical poems, Purim

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