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In the depositions, and, if you wish, the confessions under torture, of the Trent defendants under indictment for Simonino ’s so-called ritual murder, ample space, at the request of the inquisitors, was given to the preparation of the Seder of Pesach in the respective houses, to the reading of the Haggadah and the particular rites of the festival. The inquisitors inquired about the order of the prayers, their content, the salient phases of the celebration, the foods eaten, and the various roles played by the participants in the collective ritual. The persons under interrogation responded, apparently without reticence, here dwelling at length to illustrate in detail the unfolding of the Seder, here more succinctly, restricting themselves to cored the most significant moments.

At this point, the question must be raised whether these descriptions and reports, extorted under torture, were authentic or real; whether they were the fruit of suggestive pressures brought to bear by the inquisitors, intended to confirm their prejudices, the stereotypes and the superstitions which they carried in their minds and in those of the Christian society of which they were the expression, and to evaluate the assumptions of the accusation which were at the origin of the trials. In other words, an attempt should be made to determine whether these crude and embarrassing confessions were largely the result of suggestion, and were, so to speak, recited and written under dictation. To do so, we must, first of all, strip the matter of its most delicate component, consisting of the admitted use of the blood of a Christian child, dissolved in wine and mixed in the dough of the unleavened bread, while restricting ourselves to a mere verification of the details of the depositions in all other respects, of which these admissions constitute the broad corpus.

Tobias da Magdeburg, the Jewish physician and expert ophthalmologist, was, according to those who knew him, both Jews and Christians, among the numerous patients he had in the Fossato district, was a bad-tempered and unpleasant individual. From the Jewish point of view, he was considered

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ignorant; he had a very poor knowledge of the holy language and his adherence to Jewish laws was anything but scrupulous. Samuele da Nuremberg, the recognized head of the small Jewish community of Trent, certainly did not consider him a saint, but he, Samuele, was prepared to supply him, Tobias, more or less voluntarily, with indispensable religious services. At Pesach, then, to enable Tobias to celebrate the Seder at home according to the rules, Samuele supplied him with the crisp unleavened bread and, above all, the shimmurim , the so-called "solemn unleavened bread", prepared with particular care and pierced by the finger of the head of the house, his wife and servants, before being put in the oven [1].

The shimmurim, three for each of the first two evenings of the Jewish Pesach during which the Haggadah was read and the Seder was held, were prominently displayed in a pan as the symbolic main course of the feast, to be eaten by the guests during the most important phase of the liturgical ceremony [2]. Tobias knew that when the unleavened bread had been kneaded, it had to be placed in the oven immediately, to avoid over-heating it or allowing it to get soggy, thus causing it to ferment and become unsuitable for the ritual. It was then that Samuele was able to make the following long-anticipated solemn announcement: "This unleavened bread has been prepared according to the rules" [3].

This same Samuele referred to the traditional first appearance of the Passover dinner. It was then that the head of the family sat at the head of the table and poured out the wine into the beaker, upon which he had recited the benediction and sanctification of the festival (kiddush), while the other guests poured themselves wine, each into their cups. The pan with the three solemn unleavened loaves (shimmurim) were placed in the center of the table, awaiting the collective recitation of the Hagadah [4]. Tobias descended into greater detail, stating that:

"In the first days of the Passover, during the evening, before dinner, and also on subsequent days, in the evening, before dinner, the head of the family, seated at the head of the table, mixed the wine in the cup and so did the other guests; then they placed a basin or pan in the middle of the table, into which the three unleavened loaves were placed, one after the other; in the same pan, they placed an egg, meat and other foods which were to be eaten during the dinner [5].

At this point, as Mohar (Meir), the son of Mosè "the Old Man" of Würzburg, recalled in his deposition, all the participants in the ritual banquet raised the pan with the three shimmurim

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and the other foods, together, and recited, together, the introductory formula of the Haggadah, composed in Aramaic, which opened with the words Ha lachmà aniya, "This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt" [6].

He then added one of the culminating and most significant moments of the entire Seder, when the tension was broken, fantasy broke free from its bonds and the words were distinctly pronounced, one by one, to be savored and tasted in their full significance: the ten plagues of Egypt, or as the Ashkenazi Jews called them, the ten curses. Dam, the blood, opened the list, to be followed by the frogs ( zefardea), lice (kinim), and ferocious animals ('arov); then came the plagues of the animals ( dever), the ulcers (shechin), hail (barad ), locusts (areh), darkness (choshekh). In a terrible and deadly crescendo, the plagues concluded with the death of the first born Egyptians (makkat bechorot).

According to the custom long established among the Ashkenazi Jews, the head of the family then solemnly dipped the index finger of the right hand into the cup of wine, which was before him, and as he announced each individual plague, he moved his finger inside the glass, towards the outside, rhythmically splashing the wine onto the table.

Samuele da Nuremberg had no difficulty in reciting the names of the ten plagues, in Hebrew, from memory and in order, explaining that "these words meant the ten curses which God sent to the Egyptians, because they didn't want to liberate His people" [7]. The Christian Italian notaries had obvious difficulty in transcribing that machine-gun burst of Hebraic terms, pronounced with a heavy German accent, into Latin characters, but they did their best, almost always obtaining moderately satisfactory results. The record gives Samuele’s list as follows: dam, izzarda (the frogs, zefardea, was apparently too harsh for their ears), chynim, heroff (for 'arov, with a variant of little importance), dever, ssyn (for schechin, ulcer), porech (barad, hail, pronounced in the German way, bored, were inadequately understood), harbe, hossen (for choshekh, darkness) and finally, maschus pchoros (makkat bechorot), which rendered the term of the plague according to the Ashkenazim diction, makkas bechoros). But it was all more or less comprehensible, both in words and meanings.

In one of the depositions taken from Anna of Magdeburg, Samuele ’s daughter-in-law, she recalled her mother-in-law sprinkling the wine onto the table, plunging her finger into the glass and reciting the ten curses, but she did not remember the precise order. A Haggadah was then produced and Anna took it and read

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the text quickly, starting with dam, blood, translating the various terms correctly [8].

Tobias, for his part, was able to repeat the precise order of liturgical functions in which the head of the household accompanied the reading of the ten curses while splashing the wine onto the table with his finger. He had no difficulty in reciting the ten plagues of Egypt, which he obviously knew by heart, in Hebrew, in the correct sequence. But he got mixed up when he tried to translate or interpret the various terms, revealing a rather poor knowledge of Hebrew.

He thus confused 'arov, the plague of the multitude of the wild beasts, with ra'av, famine, and arbeh, the locusts, with the word harbe', which sounds similar, and means "a lot" in Hebrew. In his own way, he interpreted the plague of the pestilence of animals, dever, as the destruction of persons, and harad (porech for bored, again), as "storm at sea", instead of in the sense of "hail". And again, for him, the death of the first-born children was to be considered an epidemic of general plague [9].

In sum, Tobias was certainly not very cultivated in Hebraic studies, which he had perhaps somewhat neglected in order to concern himself with medicine. At any rate, he had the ritual formulae well in mind, reciting them automatically as he did each year. The interpretations were his own, even the more abstruse, as well as the grammatical errors in Hebrew, a language which he knew rather badly, in contrast to Samuele da Nuremberg, Mosè "the Old Man", of Würzburg and Angelo da Verona [10]. Like the inquisitors, the notaries who were in this case responsible for transcribing [what were certainly] his words, were interested in learning more about the Seder and its rituals; they were cannot have been responsible for his interpretive blunders and linguistic mistakes.

At this point, in the traditional reading of the Haggadah, according to the custom of the Ashkenazi Jews, the curses against the Egyptians were transformed into an invective against all the nations and enemies hated by Israel, with explicit reference to the Christians. "From each of these plagues may God save us, but may they fall on our enemies". Thus recited the formula reported by rabbi Jacob Mulin Segal, known as Maharil, active at Treviso around the last twenty years of the 14th century, in his Sefer ha-minhagim ("Book of Customs"), which unhesitatingly identified the adversaries of the Jewish people with the Christians, who deserved to be cursed. It seems that this custom was in force among German Jews even before the First Crusade [11]. The sprinkling of the wine, which was a surrogate of the blood of the persecutors of Israel, onto the table,

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simultaneously with the recitation of the plagues of Egypt, recalled the cruel punishment said to have come from the "vengeful sword" of God [12].

A famous contemporary of Maharil, Rabbi Shabom of Wiener Neustadt, has also confirmed the anti-Christian significance of the sprinkling of the wine during the reading of the plagues of Egypt.

"When they name the ten plagues of Egypt, each time, they dip the finger into the cup of wine standing in front (of the head of the family) and they pour a little bit of it out, onto the table [...] saying: 'From this curse may God save us'. The reason is that the four cups of wine (which must be drunk during the recitation of the Haggadah) represent a wish for the salvation of the Jews and a curse against the nations of the world. Therefore (the head of the family) pours the wine out of the glass with his finger, signifying that we Jews shall be saved from such curses, which shall, by contrast, fall upon our enemies" [13].

It should be noted that the ritual of the wine and the curses was practiced only in Jewish communities of German origin, while it was quite unknown among Jews of Iberian origins (Sephardim), or Italian and Oriental Jews.

The old man, Mosè da Würzburg recalled times past, when he was the head of the family at Spira and then Magonza. During the Passover evening, he had sat at the head of the table with the guests and directed the Seder and the reading of the Haggadah, sprinkling the wine onto the table while he clearly pronounced the names of the ten plagues of Egypt. He then informed his inquisitors that, according to the Ashkenazi tradition, "the head of the family added these words: 'Thus we implore God that these ten curses may fall on the gentiles, enemies of the faith of the Jews', a clear reference to the Christians" [14].

According to Israel Wolfgang, who was, as usual, well informed, the famous and influential Salamone da Piove di Sacco, as well as the banker Abramo da Feltre and the physician Rizzardo da Regensburg at Brescia, all complied with the ritual of reciting the ten curses and symbolically pouring out the wine against the nations hostile to Israel.

Mosè da Bamberg, the wandering Jewish guest in the Angeleo da Verona’s house, testified to this custom, at which he had been present during the Seder in Leone di Mohar’s house at Tortoa. Mosè the master of Hebrew, who lived at the expense of Tobias, the physician, remembered well from the time in which his house was located in the district of the Jews of Nuremberg [15].

Tobias himself, as the head of the family, had directly guided those parts of the Seder and recalled the details, which

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were furthermore repeated every year at Passover without variation. He therefore announced to the judges at Trent that "when the head of the family had finished reading those words (the ten plagues), he then added this phrase: 'Thus we implore God, that you shall similarly send these ten plagues against the Gentiles, who are the enemies of the religion of the Jews', intending to refer, in particular, to the Christians"

[16]. For his part, Samuele da Nuremberg, sprinkling the wine onto the table from the inside of his chalice, also took as his starting place the tragedies of the Pharaohs to curse the Christian faith unambiguously: "We invoke God that he may turn all these anathemas against the enemies of Israel" [17].

The Seder thus became a scandalous display of anti-Christian sentiment, exalted by symbolic acts and significances and burning imprecations, which was now using the stupendous events of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt simply as a pretext. In Jewish Venice during the 17th century, the ritual characteristics related to the reading of this part of the Haggadah were still alive and present, as shown by the testimony of Giulio Morosini, which is to be considered quite reliable.

"When the head of the family refers to these ten blows, he is brought a bowl or basin, and at the name of each one, dipping the finger into his glass, and drips it inside the cup and continues, gradually emptying the glass of wine as a sign of the curses against the Christians" [18].

Subsequently, the head of the family, after drinking another glass of wine, invites the guests to eat part of the three solemn unleavened loaves, the shimmurim, first all by itself and then together with the charoset and the bitter herbs, reciting the mandatory benedictions. At this point, the dinner true and proper dinner began. Samuele reported that the "head of the family took the unleavened bread and divided it one by one, giving one piece to each (of the guests), then drank the wine in his cup, and the others did likewise; after which they all started to eat, and thus they did the next day" [19].

Similarly, Tobias da Magdeburg recounted that "the head of the family took the first unleavened loaf in the pan and gave part of it to each person present, and did the same with the second and third unleavened loaf (the shimmurim), giving a part of it to each person present. He then took a glass full of wine [...] and gulped it down, and immediately afterwards, the other guests also took their glasses

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and drank the wine, each from his own glass. Then the dinner started" [20].

When the meal was finished and the related benediction had been recited, before drinking the fourth glass of wine, the wine with which the advent of final redemption augured itself, the participants in the ritual united in reciting, all together, a new series of violent invective against the peoples having rejected the God of Israel, in a clear allusion to the Christians. The formula opened with the words Shefoch chamatecha el ha-goim asher lo yeda'ucha and, in the Ashkenazi ritual, contained particularly virulent overtones: "Vomit your anger onto the nations which refuse to recognize you, and their kingdoms, which do not invoke your name, which have devoured Jacob and destroyed his seat. Turn your anger upon them, reach them with your scorn; persecute them with fury, cause them to perish from beneath the divine heaven".

This was one of the most potent, explicit and incisive curses against the gentiles contained in the Passover liturgy of the Seder. This invective appears to have been unknown in ancient times, and it is first found in the Machazor Vitry, composed in France between the 11th and 12th centuries. In all probability, the text, of one hundred verses extrapolated from various Psalms, was introduced into the Haggadah of the Franco-German Jewish communities during the Medieval period [21].

The meaning was obvious. Messianic redemption could only be built upon the ruins of the hated Gentile world. In reciting the curses, the door of the room in which the Seder was kept were half-ajar, so that the prophet Elias would be enabled to intervene and announce the promised rescue. The anti-Christian invective was intended to prepare and facilitate Elias’ entry. As we shall also see below, the magical cult of the outrage and anti-Christian evil omen was one of the principal elements characterizing the religious fundamentalism typical of the Franco-German environment of the Middle Ages, and its so-called "passive Messianism", which was aggressive and ritualized [22].

Maestro Tobias, according to his statements to the judges at Trent, after dinner, devoutly recited the formula of the curses of Shefoch and did the same both the evenings during which the Seder was performed and the Passover Haggadah read [23]. Israel Wolfgang, as well, who had participated in Samuele da Nuremberg’s ritual dinner, recalled the moment in which they had solemnly pronounced Shefoch ("Oh God, send your anger against the peoples which do not wish to glorify you"), cursing the Christians [24].

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The custom of reciting the curses of the Shefoch attributing anti-Christian connotations to them was still in force among the Jews of Venice in the 17th century, as Giulio Morosini attests with reference to the Ashkenazi formula:

"Each one raises his glass of wine [...] they curse the Christians and the other nations, all included under the name of Ghoim, Gentiles, all intoning these words, after they have eaten their fill and are very drunk: 'Cast thy anger upon the Ghoim, Gentiles, which have not recognized you and on the kingdoms which have not invoked your name. Cast your anger upon them and may the fury of your anger consume them. Persecute them with your fury and destroy them" [25].

The reading of this second series of curses was perhaps accompanied by demonstrative actions, such as that of flinging the wine from the basin into which it had been poured during the recital of the ten plagues of Egypt out of the windows and into the street: Egypt was thus transformed into Edom, and the persecutors of Israel were now solidly identified with the representatives of the surrounding Christian world.

The convert Paolo Medici reported on the existence of these rather picturesque customs, which also featured stentorian invectives against the Gentiles.

"The head of the house intones aloud verse 6 of Psalm 78: "Effunde iram tuam in gentes, quae te non noverunt". ( Shefoch chamatecha el hagoim asher lo yeda'ucha), and one person in the house runs to the window, takes the basin containing the wine of the curses, which was poured into the basin during the recitation the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt by God, and throws the wine into the street, the meaning of which, by way of this verse of the Psalm, was to inflict thousands of curses on all those who were not members of Judaism, and against the Christians in particular" [26].

In substance, the so-called "confessions" of the defendants during the Trent trials relating to the rituals of the Seder and the Passover Haggadah are seen to be precise and truthful. Apart from the details of the use of blood in the wine and the unleavened bread, of which we shall speak somewhat further along, the sporadic insertion of which into the text is insufficient to invalidate the general picture, the facts described are always correct. The Jews of Trent, in describing the Seder in which they had participated, were not lying; nor were they under the influence of the judges, who were presumably ignorant of a large part of the ritual being described to them. If the accused dwelt at length upon the virulent anti-Christian meaning which the ritual had assumed in the tradition of

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that Franco-German Judaism to which they belonged, they were not indulging in unverifiable exaggeration. In their collective mentality, the Passover Seder had a long since transformed itself into a celebration in which the wish for the forthcoming redemption of the people of Israel moved from aspiration to revenge, and then to cursing their Christian persecutors, the current heirs to the wicked Pharaoh of Egypt.


[1] On the preparation of the unleavened break and the shimmurim , the unleavened bread, under supervision and most important, see A. Toaff, Mangiare alla giudia. La cucina ebraica in Italia dal Rinascimento all'età moderna, Bologna, 2000, pp. 147-149.

[2] The pan with the symbolic Pesach foods generally contained, in addition to the three shimmurim, i.e. the "solemn unleavened loaves", hard-boiled eggs, the lamb's hoof, the charoset, i.e, the fresh and dried fruit preserve, bitter herbs, lettuce and celery (cfr. R. Bonfil, Haggadah di Pesach, Milan, 1962, pp. XXXII-XXXVI). To these foods, some people added "various other things, including other types of bitter herbs and two types of meat, roast and boiled, and fish and egg, and almonds and walnuts" (cfr. Giulio Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostrata agi ebrei, Rome. Propaganda Fide, 1683, pp. 551-552).

[3] "Quia ipse Thobias non habet clibanum in domo sua ad coquendo fugatias nec panem, eo tempore quo faciunt dictas fugatias seu azimas predictas, subito quamprimum sunt facte oportet quod ponantur in clibano, ut bene sint azime et quod Samuel habet clibanum in domo sua [...] dicto tempore Samud dedit sibi de fugatiis azimis, qui Samuel quando sic dabat fugatias dicebat: Iste fugatiae sunt aptate sicut debent" (cfr. A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento, 1475-1478. I: I processi del 1475, Padova, 1990, p. 328). For his part, Samuele da Nuremberg "interrogatus quin pinsavit pastam temporibus preteritis in domo ipsius Samuelis, cum qua fecerunt azimas predictas, respondit quod famuli ipsius Samuelis fecerunt azimas et pinsaverunt pastam cum qua fecerunt azimas; dicens tamen, quod nihil refert an masculi vel femine faciant dictas azimas" (cfr. ibidem, p. 252).

[4] "Ante cenam paterfamilias se ponit in capite mense et accipit unum ciatum in quo est de vino et quem ciatum ponit ante se [...] et alii de familia circum astantes habent singulum ciatum plenum vino; et in medio mense ponit unum bacile, in quo bacili sunt tres fugatie azimate [...] quas tres azimas ponunt in dicto bacili et in eodem bacili etiam ponunt aliquid modicum de eo quod sunt commesturi in cena" (cfr. ibidem, p. 252). Israel Wolfgang referred to the shimmurim as migzos (recte: mazzot, mazzos according to the Asnhenazi pronunciation), solemn unleavened bread (cfr. G. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, Trento, 1902, voI. Il, p. 18).

[5] "In die Pasce eorum de sero, ante cenam, et etiam in die sequenti de sero, antecenam, paterfamilias judeus se ponit ad mensam et omnes eius familie se ponunt circa mensam. Qui paterfamilias habet ciphum plenum vino, quem ciphum ponit ante se, et omnes alii circumstantes habent singulum ciatum plenum vino; et deinde in medio mense ponunt unum bacile seu vas, in quo ponunt tres azimas sive fugatias [...] ponendo dictas fugatias unam super aliam; in quo bacili etiam ponunt de ovis, de carnibus et de omnibus aliis de quibus volunt comedere in illa cena" (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, pp. 325-326).

[6] "Dicit quod benedicunt postea dictas fugatias [...] dicendo hec verba: Holcheme hanyhe (recte: Ha la-chmà aniyà) et certa alia verba que ipse ignorat, que verba significant: 'panis iste', et nescit quid aliud significent" (cfr. ibidem, p. 379).

[7] "Et paterfamilias ponit digitum in ciatum suum et illum balneat in vino [...] et deinde aspergit cum digito omnia que sunt in mensa, dicendo hec verba in Hebraico, videlicet dam, izzardea, chynim, heroff, dever, ssyn, porech, harbe, hossen, maschus pochoros, que verba significant decem maledictiones quas Deus dedit populo Egiptiaco, eo quod nolebat dimittere populum suum" ["And the head of the family places his finger in his glass and bathes his finger therein [...] and then sprinkles all those present at table with it, saying these words in Hebrew, that is, dam, izzardea, chynim, heroff, dever, ssyn, porech, harbe, hossen, maschus pochoros, which words mean the ten curses that God inflicted on the Egyptians who did not want to let His people go"] (cfr. ibidem, p. 252).

[8] Cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trento, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, pp. 151-152.

[9] "Et postea (paterfamilias) ponit digitum indicem manus dextrae in ciphum et intingit seu balneat digitum predictum in vino [...] et deinde cum eodemmet digito balneato in vino, ut supra, paterfamilias aspergit ea que sunt super mensa, dicendo hec verba in Hebraico, videlicet: dam, izzardea, chynim, heroff, dever, ssyn, porech, harbe, hossech, maschus pochoros, que verba significant in Latino istud, videlicet: dam, sanguis - izzardea, rane - chynym, pulices - heroff, fames - dever, destructiones personarum - ssyn, lepra - porech, fortuna in mari seu procella - harbe, multum - hossech, tenebre - maschus pochoros, pestilentia magna. Que omnia verba suprascripta dicuntur per dictum patremfamilias in commemoratione illarum decem maledictionum, quas Deus dedit Pharaoni et toto populo Egypti, quia nolebant dimittere populum suum"

["And after (the head of the family) put the index finger of the right hand in his glass and having bathed his finger in the wine [...] and, using the finger bathed in wine, as stated above, the head of the family sprinkles those at table, saying these words in Hebrew, namely, izzardea, chynim, heroff, dever, ssyn, porech, harbe, hossech, maschus pochoros, which words mean in Latin the following, to wit, dam, blood - izzardea, frogs - chynym, fleas - heroff, famine - dever, the destruction of persons - ssyn, leprosy - porech, loss of wealth in storms at sea - harbe, multitude - hossech, darkness - maschus pochoros - great pestilence. All of these words are spoken by the head of the family in memory of the ten curses which God inflicted on the Egyptians and on the whole population of Egypt, because they did not want to let His people go"]

(cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 326).

[10] Tobias did not hesitate to confess to the Trent judges to the limitations of his own Hebraic culture: "ipse Thobias est illetteratus homo et quod docti in lege suo hoc scire debent" [ "that Tobias was uneducated and that the doctors in law should know that"] (ibidem, p. 318).

[11] Cfr. Jacob Mulin Segal (Maharil), Sefer ha-minhagim ("Book of Customs"), by Sh. Spitzer, Jerusalem, 1989, pp. 106-107. On the anti- Christian meaning of these invectives, contained in the Haggadah according to the custom of the German Jews, cfr. I.J. Yuval, "Two Nations in Your Womb". Perceptions of Jews and Christians, Tel Aviv, 2000, pp. 116-117 (in Hebrew).

[12] In this regard, see Sh. Safrai and Z. Safrai, Haggadah of the Sages. The Passover Haggadah, Jerusalem, 1998, pp. 145-146 (in Hebrew).

[13] Cfr. Shalom of Neustadt, Decisions and Customs, by Sh. Spitzer, Jerusalem, 1977, p. 134 (in Hebrew).

[14] "Postea dictus paterfamilias dixit suprascripta verba, idem paterfamilias iungit hec alia verba: 'Ita imprecamur Deum quod similiter immittat predictas .X. maledictiones contra gentes, que sunt inimice fidei Iudeorum', intelligendo maxime contra christianos, et deinde dictus paterfamilias bibit vinum"

["After the head of the family said these words, he added these other words: ‘Thus we pray God to inflict ten similar curses on the Gentiles, who are enemies of the Jewish faith’, meaning the Christians, more than anything else, and then the head of the family drank the wine"]

(cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 363).

"Et (Thobias) dicit quod quando dictus paterfamilias dixit suprascripta verba, postea etiam addit hec alia: ‘Ita imprecamur Deum quod similiter immittat suprascriptas decem maledictiones contra gentes quod adversantur fidei Iudaice', intelligendo maxime contra Christianos"

["And (Tobias) said that when the head of the family said these words, after that he added these other words : ‘Thus we pray God that He may inflict ten similar curses on all the people who are enemies of the Jewish faith"]

(cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 326).

[15] Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 16-32.

[16] "Et (Thobias) dicit quod quando dictus paterfamilias dixit suprascripta verba, postea etiam addit hec alia: "Ita imprecamur Deum quod similiter immittat suprascriptas decem maledictiones contra gentes quod adversantur fidei Iudaice", intelligendo maxime contra Christianos" ["And Tobias said that when the head of the family said the above mentioned words, after that he added the following, among other things: "Thus we call upon God similarly to inflict the above mentioned curses against the Gentiles (or people) who are enemies of the Jewish faith’, meaning, most of all, against the Christians"] (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 326).

[17] "Et que verba postea quem dicta sunt per patremfamilias, idem paterfamilias dicit hec alia verba: 'lta nos deprecamur Deum quod immittat omnes predictas maledictiones contra eos qui sunt contra fidem Iudaicam', intelligendo et imprecando quod dicte maledictiones immittantur contra Cristianos" ["And that after the head of the family said these words, he said these other words: ‘Thus we pray God that He may inflict all these curses on those who are enemies of the Jewish faith’, meaning and praying that these curses would befall the Christians"] (cfr. ibidem, p. 352). In the light of the Hebrew sources, such as Maharil and Shalom da Wiener Neustadt, who testify to the ancient custom of the Ashkanazi Jews of cursing the Christians during the recitation of the ten plagues of Egypt, W.P. Eckert is therefore in error on this point (Motivi superstiziosi nel processo agli ebrei di Trento, in I. Rogger and M. Bellabarba, Il principe vescovo Johannes Hinderbach, 1465-1486, fra tardo Medioevo e Umanesimo, Atti del Convegno held by the Biblioteca Comunale of Trent, 2-6 October 1989, Bologna, 1992, pp. 393-394) considers this to be a truth presumed by the Trent judges and suggested to the defendants by coercive means.

[18] Cfr. Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostata agli ebrei, cit., p. 559.

[19] "Et hiis dictis, paterfamilias accipit dictas fugatias et unamquamque dividit de unaquaque fugatia partem suam unicuique, et deinde ipse paterfamilias bibit vinum quod est in ciato suo, et similiter alii astantes bibunt vinum suum et postmodum omnes cenant, et similiter faciunt die sequenti de sero" (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, pp. 252-253).

[20] "Et post suprascripta paterfamilias accipit primam fugatiam que est in bacili, ut supra, et unicuique ex astantibus dat partem suam, et similiter facit de secunda et de tertia fugatia, dando partem suam unicuique. Et deinde accipit ciphum plenum vino [...] et illud vinum bibit; et deinde omnes alii circumstantes accipiunt ciatos suos plenos vino, ut supra, et unusquisque bibit de ciato suo, postque cenant orimes" (cfr. ibidem, pp. 326-327).

[21] On the initial introduction of the curses of Shefoch into the text of the Haggadah of the medieval Ashkenazi environment, see, among others, M.M. Kasher, Haggadah Shelemah, New York, 1961, pp. 177-180; E.D. Goldshmidt, Haggadah shel Pesach, Jerusalem, 1969, pp. 62-64; R. Bonfil, Haggadah di Pesach, Milan, 1962, pp. 122-123 (" It may nevertheless be presumed that the custom became widespread during the Middle Ages, during the period of the first great persecutions, during the Crusades [...] during the period in which the first accusations of ritual murder were made against the Jews. The custom of opening the door [...] probably also dates back to that period, in which such an act was caused by the fear that behind the door there might be placed the body of some murdered child and that the murder might be blamed on the Jews").

[22] In this regard, see, in particular, G.D. Cohen, Messianic Postures of Ashkenazim and Sephardim, in M. Kreutzberg, Studies of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York, 1967, pp. 117-158; Yuval, "Two Nations in Your Womb", cit., pp. 140-145; Safrai and Safrai, Haggadah of the Sages, cit., pp. 174-178.

[23] "Et finita cena, paterfamilias dicit hec verba: Sfoch chaba moscho hol ha-goym. Similiter dicit quod fit in die sequenti de sero, post Pascha" ["And after dinner, the head of the family pronounces these words, Sfoch chaba moscho hol ha-goym. He does the same the evening of the following day, after Passover"] (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 327). It should be noted that the Hebrew words are recorded by the Italian notary according to Tobias' Ashkenazi pronunciation, and therefore chamatechà, "da tua ira", is rendered as chamoschò (chaba moscho).

[24] Cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 149; Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 18. Even in the case of Israel Wolfgang, the formula of Shefoch, reported according to the Ashkenazi pronunciation, is distorted by the notary's record (Sfoco hemosco hai hagoym honszlar lho ghedalsecho ), but seems entirely intelligible.

[25] Cfr. Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostrata agli ebrei, cit., p. 559.

[26] Cfr. Paolo Medici, Riti e costumi degli ebrei, Madrid, Luc'Antonio de Bedmar, 1737, p. 171.


p. 173]

Revised by the original translators, Feb. 2011

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