Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Costly Mistakes

In the new Bevis Marks synagogue in London, in 1701, the hazan, or salaried prayer-leader, was fined for every mistake he made while reading from the Torah. The minute books of the synagogue record actual cases of fining the hazan. In his book, The History of the Ancient Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (1901), Moses Gaster wryly notes, "If this operation of fining continued regularly every Sabbath throughout the year the result would be that the Hazan, instead of receiving a salary from the congregation, would remain its debtor" (p. 46).

This doesn't have much to do with anything, but I found it amusing.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I just finished listening to your podcast series "From Israelite to Jew" and found it the best, most enlightening history of that era I have ever heard. I hope you will consider making more podcasts whether they be short ones looking deeper at the very confusing period of the Hasmonean kingdom, or pick up where you left off with the post-Bar Kochba rise of rabbis in diaspora Judaism. Thanks again, Mark Tauber