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Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme

Retour A Selection of Works The synagogue

Alm box for the festival of Purim
Alm box for the festival of Purim

Carved stone
13,2 x 12,5 cm

Photo Gilles Berizzi. Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris
Gift of Alphonse de Rothschild
On long-term loan from the Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris

This alms box is among the very rare surviving objects from before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. It was used to collect donations to the synagogue during the festival of Purim. Tradition prescribes that on this day, people should give presents to their relatives and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:22).

There are two inscriptions in Judeo-Spanish that make specific reference to the festival: zekhirah del nes (in remembrance of the miracle), in the medallion, and Rey Ahasveros y la reyna Ester (King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther). In fact, although no mention is made of divine intervention, the Talmud considers that "the deliverance of the Jews thanks to Esther was the last miracle" (Yoma, 29, a). The inscriptions are one of the oldest examples of the use of a language other than Hebrew or Aramaic on a ritual object.

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