by Edward Yamen,
I thank The
Scribe for bringing into my mind the name of Hakham Zimbartoot.
Regarding the statement, attributed to him, which was equally
known to me, as mentioned in your issue
74, page 63, if perused to a reader of the present,
he would hardly believe that an offensive statement of the
kind could be uttered by a Rabbi at any time and at any place.
Surely the time was different, tolerance prevailed all over
and a strong will to live in peace, regardless of religion
Besides all that,
the person under reference was so special and amiable by all,
Muslims and Jews, being a good-hearted man and well-known
of having a witty skill in cracking jokes of all kinds up
to a degree that he was given the liberty to cross the bounds
of good taste as a privilege, enticing him to
speak his eloquence freely and without any inhibition whatsoever,
which was called at that time AMAN WA RAI which
means more or less: absolute freedom of speech!
So, things went like that with him, undisputed, as it seemed.
I want to clarify that in his era people felt more strongly
the warmth of a friendship in the willingness to share enthusiasms
and knowledge and lived in that adoration.
name Zimbartoot it does not seem his real
one and behind how he got it, there was a story which
is as follows:
While he was a
Yeshiva student in Baghdad reciting a passage in the Talmud
amongst his teacher and companions he mispronounced a word
which went his way in the passage. The word was SEMARTOOT
or if you like, SMARTOOT which literally means
a worthless piece of cloth. It seemed that his bad pronunciation
made it change into Zimbartoot instead.
From that moment
onwards, his companions started to use it as a nickname which
replaced his personal one until now. What is in a nickname
is always funnier than What is in a name!
Was the mispronunciation,
kind of a joke? The readers guess is as good as mine.
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