Hitting Your Head Means You’re A Sinner

Hitting Your Head Means You’re A Sinner June 30, 2011

My last day in Israel (which I decided to write about separately from my account of the airport, where my time in Israel ended) included a visit to a some 3,000-year-old Phoenician fortress, and seeing a tomb belonging to one Jehoshua of Sachnin. Local Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians, come to the tomb to kiss the stones. A couple of local gentlemen mentioned that this rabbi’s father’s name was Jacob. There is a Jacob of Sachnin mentioned in the Talmud, who wanted to heal someone in the name of Jesus. Since the tomb has been renovated or rebuilt at some point, looking for indications of its earlier history is probably futile, even if one decides that this tomb does indeed have a connection with this figure. And in many instances, tombs are adopted later as belonging to a famous figure of this or that religious tradition. Nevertheless, the confluence of Christians venerating a tomb that might belong to a Jewish-Christian rabbinic family is striking.

After exiting the tomb and bumping my head slightly, a couple of older Muslim gentlemen showed up. They told us some of the information I already mentioned above, as well as a local belief that if someone is a sinner and enters the tomb, they will hit their head. They had a good laugh when they learned that I had done so.

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