Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How is this knight different...?

Ever wonder what the youngsters did to entertain the bride and groom before the days of silly hats, plastic glasses, balloon poppers and jump ropes (ah, Jewish weddings can be so classy!)? Well, in medieval times - because I'm sure you spent hours wondering - turns out they did jousting.

One of my favorite blogs, On the Main Line, explains a particular bit of Talmud (Sukkah 45a):
The background is that the Mishnah writes that in the Temple, on the last day of Sukkot, the people would take the lulavs from the children and eat their Etrogs. Naturally there are two ways to understand this: one is that the people would eat the etrogs, the other is that the children did. But Rashi interprets it that it was the adults who would eat them. Therefore the Mishnah is describing a situation where the adults apparently grabbed the lulavim and esrogim from the hands of the children, and Rashi explains that this was not stealing - it was a fun game.

From this explanation Tosafos [medieval commentaries - MS] derives a principle: One can learn from here that those bochurim (youths) who ride horses and war with one another, before grooms, and tear each others clothing or hurt the horse, are exempt from the damage they've caused because this is the customary way of providing joyous entertainment for grooms....

So there you have it: in the times of Tosafos the bochurim would get on horses and joust with each other for entertainment.

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