Skip to main content Accessibility help

Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry

  • Elliott Horowitz (a1)


Although religious history has traditionally concerned itself with the transcendent dimension in human life, and social history with the mundane, the latter approach can also be used to illuminate the ways in which religion works itself out on the social plane. In fact, it might be argued that inquiries of this sort should occupy a prominent place on the agenda of any social and religious history of the Jews. Among historians of the Annales school, for whom the study of material life was long considered the backbone of historical inquiry, there has been a discernible move in recent years toward the study of religious life, especially in its popular forms. Whereas, for example, previous volumes in the valuable Johns Hopkins series of “Selections from the Annales” were devoted to such topics as food and drink in history, the one published in 1982 was entitled, significantly, Ritual, Religion and the Sacred.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry
      Available formats



Hide All

1. Horowitz, Elliot, “Jewish Confraternities in Seventeenth Century Verona: A Study in the Social History of Piety” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1982). Some of the material in this article appeared there in a preliminary form. Later versions were presented at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem in August 1985, and at Indiana University in February 1986. I thank Professors Robert Bonfil, Lawrence Fine, Joseph Hacker, S. Z. Leiman, and Kenneth Stow for their helpful comments and suggestions.

2. Jean Leclant, “Coffee and Cafes in Paris, 1644–1693,” trans. P. M. Ranum, in Forster, R.and Ranum, O., eds., Food and Drink in History(Baltimore, 1979); pp. 8697, (appeared originally in Annales, E.S.C.6 [1951]: 1–12). On the role of coffee in the emergence of the modern world, see Jacob, H. E., Coffee: Epic of a Commodity,trans. Eden Paul and Cedar Paul (New York, 1935), who claims that without it “modern civilization would be unthinkable” (p. 20). Jacob asserted somewhat poetically that “coffee has changed the surface of the globe. The muscular and cerebral stimulation and transformation produced in mankind by coffee have transfigured the visage of history” (pp. 23–24). Although his claim will not be fully endorsed in the present study, it serves as a useful contrast with those who have overlooked the role of coffee entirely. For a succinct recent summary of medical findings on its effects, see Melvin Konner, “Caffeine High,” New York Times Magazine, Jan. 17, 1988.

3. Jewish Encyclopedia(1901–6), vol. 4, p. 142. Note the ironically prophetic observation in the Encyclopaedia Judaica(1972), vol. 6, col. 732 hereafter cited as EJ, that many of the Jewish Encyclopedia'sentries “have remained unsurpassed statements.” The German Encyclopedia Judaica(1928–34), though never completed, nonetheless progressed far enough to have made clear its exclusion of an entry for “kaffee,” and the same is true for the more popular Judisches Lexikon(1927–30). The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia(1939–43) did include a fairly exhaustive article on Rabbi Rudolph Coffee (vol. 3, pp. 232–233) but none on the more famous beverage of the same name.

4. C. van Arendonk, s.v. “Kahwa,” Encyclopedia of Islam(1927); idem, in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (1978), vol. 4, pp. 449–455. A recent and valuable contribution to the subject is the monograph by Hattox, R. S., Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East(Seattle and London, 1985), which includes an ample bibliography.

5. Van Arendonk, “Kahwa”; Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, pp. 14, 22–26. On coffee in the Sufi orders, see also Ibid, pp. 74–76, and Trimingham, J. S., The Sufi Orders in Islam(Oxford, 1971), pp. 199, 210.

6. Braudel, Fernand, Civilization and Capitalism: 15th–18th Century, vol. 1, The Structures of Everyday Life, trans. S. Reynolds (New York, 1981), p. 256, and the earlier discussion; idem, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II, trans. S. Reynolds (New York, 1972), p. 762. See also more extensively Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, chaps. 2, 6, and the colorful description of the arrival and rapid popularization of coffee in mid-sixteenth-century Istanbul, quoted at length in Bernard Lewis, Istanbul and the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire(Norman, Okla., 1963), pp. 132–133. On the last point see also E. Birnbaum, “Vice Triumphant: The Spread of Coffee and Tobacco in Turkey,” Durham University Journal, December, 1956, pp. 21–27.

7. Abrahams, Israel, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages(London, 1896), pp. 137138. Abrahams proudly made a point of noting that “coffee was introduced into England by Jews” Ibid On this see more recently Katz, David, Philosemitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England(Oxford, 1982), p. 40 and the sources cited there, n. 154. Compare, in a similar vein to Abrahams, the remarks of Attilio Milano, Storia degli ebrei in Italia(Turin, 1963), p. 567.

8. These were the permissibility of drinking it before morning prayers; whether coffee, when taken at the end of a meal, required a separate blessing; whether, after drinking coffee (outside of a meal) a final blessing (berakha aharona)was necessary, or whether, on account of its being sipped in small quantities no such blessing was necessary; and finally, whether coffee might be drunk on the Sabbath in non-Jewish coffeehouses. See Leopold Low, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Immanuel Low (Szegedin, 1890), 2:225–227. It was perhaps through Low that Abrahams, who cites him frequently, was alerted to the topic.

9. On this prohibition see Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Maakhalot Asurot17:14–21; Joseph Kara, Shulhan 'Arukh, Yoreh De'ah113–114.

10. On the rise of the coffeehouses in the Near East, their social life and social norms, see Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, chaps. 6–8. On those of Europe see, among the many treatments, Ukers, William H., All About Coffee(New York, 1922), pp. 2728; Leclant, “Coffee and Cafes”; Antonio Pilot, La boltega da caffe(Venice, 1916).

11. See above, no. 5. Note the contemporary account quoted by Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, p. 14: “At the beginning of this [the sixteenth] century, the news reached us in Egypt that a drink, called qahwa, had spread in the Yemen and was being used by Sufi shaykhs and others to help them stay awake during their devotional exercises.” On the ceremonial character of its use, see also Ibid, p. 28 and Ukers, All About Coffee, p. 17.

12. Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, p. 256.

13. Shortly before 1553 Radbaz returned to Palestine, where he spent his final two decades. It would seem more likely, however, that the responsum was penned in Egypt, over whose Jews his spiritual hegemony lasted some four decades. See Goldman, Israel, The Life and Times of Rabbi David ibn Abi Zimra(New York, 1970), chap. 1, esp. pp. 5, 13, and H. J. Zimmels, “David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra,' EJ5:1356–58. Concerning the spread of coffee in earlysixteenth- century Cairo, where Radbaz resided for the bulk of his Egyptian period, see Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, pp. 27–29, 38–40.

14. Solomon, David b. ibn Abi Zimra, Responsa(Warsaw, 1882), 3:637. This responsum was discussed by Goldman, Life and Times, as part of his treatment of ”medicine and health practices“ in the responsa of Radbaz, but the author unfortunately did not realize that the ”medicine“ referred to was coffee! On the medicinal qualities attributed to coffee, see Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, pp. 68, 70, 155; Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, pp. 256–257; Leclant, “Coffee and Cafes,” pp. 87–88; and among the earlier works, P. S. Dufour, Traitez nouveaux el curieux du cafe(Lyon, 1685), chap. 12. On the avoidance of the coffeehouses by respectable people, see Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, p. 93. For an earlier period, compare S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, vol. 1 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967), pp. 114–115.

15. On al-Jaziri and his treatise 'Umdat al-safwa ft hill al-qahwaI have relied upon the discussion in Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, pp. 25,42–45. On the manuscripts and date of this work, as well as partial translations of it pp. 13 ff.

16. Ibid, p. 45. For a similar view on the part of the early-sixteenth-century jurist al-'Arraq, who complained of “all sorts of reprehensible things” in the coffeehouses, see Ibid, p. 37. For a discussion of some of these, chap. 7, “Society and the Social Life of the Coffeehouse.”

17. R. Hezekiah de Silva, Peri Hadashto Shulhan 'Arukh, Orah Hayyim89:3 (for another example of his taking coffee's properties as a stimulant into consideration, to Orah Hayyim481) Although de Silva lived in Jerusalem, one may note the corroborating testimony of his contemporary R. Abraham b. Mordecai ha-Levi of Cairo that it was “an everyday practice at sizable meals” that after drinking a glass of wine at the conclusion of the grace “another beverage called coffee” would be brought in order to restore one's presence of mind. Responsa Ginat Veradim(Constantinople, 1716), Orah Hayyim1. Ha-Levi and the Jerusalem rabbi Abraham b. David Yizhaki engaged in an extended dispute on the question of whether a “final blessing” need be recited after a cup of coffee or whether, on account of its being sipped slowly while hot, the beverage was exempt. See above n. 8 and the latter's responsa published under the title Zer'a Avraham, pt. 1 (Smyrna, 1732), Orah Hayyim2–5. In no. 3 reference is made to the custom of discussing the quality of the coffee (“ha-tova hi im ra'ah”)while drinking it, which served as a social impediment to downing the cup swiftly. For other customs followed in the drinking of coffee, such as passing the cup, see Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, chap. 8. On conversation obligatorily accompanying the drinking of coffee, see also Leclant, “Coffee and Cafes,” p. 91.

18. See Israelbeneviste, Hayyim b., Ba'ei Hayyei, pt. 3 (Salonika, 1788), no. 155. Among his considerations was his sense that “coffee is important enough among those who drink it for one to extend an invitation for a single cup.” For other attributions to the ARI of the opinion that coffee prepared by non-Jews was prohibited, see Immanuel Hai Ricchi, Mishnat Hasidim(Amsterdam, 1727), “motzaei shabbat” 7:7, and Isaac Lampronti, Pahad Yizhak, vol. 7 (Lyck, 1874), fol. 61a, s.v. “caffe.” Cf. also Menahem Navarra, Penei Yizhak(Mantua, 1744), fols. 39a-b.

19. See Gershom Scholem, s.v. “Luria, Isaac,” EJ11:571–578, and, on the shift in Tikkun Hazotin Luria's circle, idem, “Tradition and New Creation in the Ritual of the Kabbalists,” in On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, trans. Ralph Manheim (New York, 1965), pp. 146–150. For the quotation from Solomon Schechter, see his essay “Saints and Saintliness” in Studies in Judaism, second series (Philadelphia, 1908), pp. 155–156. Concerning the prehistory of the rite, note also the comments of Isaiah Tishby, Mishnat ha-Zohar, vol. 2 (Jerusalem, 1961), p. 662. A comprehensive study of Jewish night prayer during the Middle Ages remains a desideratum.

20. See, for example, Bet Yosefand Shulhan 'Arukh, Orah Hayyim89; Yoreh De'ah113–114.

21. For an annotated English translation of Alkabetz's account, see Jacobs, Louis, Jewish Mystical Testimonies(Jerusalem, 1976), pp. 99104. For the sources in which it originally appeared, see Ibid, pp. 99, 118, and Werblowsky, R. J. Z., Joseph Karo: Lawyer and Mystic(Oxford, 1962), pp. 2, 1922. On Caro's “Maggid,” on his need to remain awake at night in study in order to merit maggidic visitations, and on his difficulties in doing so, chap. 12. It is possible that Caro's Balkan background made him less aware of the beverage and its properties than his colleagues who hailed from Egypt, to which coffee came earlier and where its absorption into daily life was rapid. See above, n. 13.

22. Josephtrani, Moses b., Responsa(Venice, 1629–1630), pt. 3, no. 150. This responsum was cited by Jacob Kena'ani, “Economic Life in Safed and Its Environs in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries” (Hebrew), Zion, o.s. 6 (1934): 186, who also noted its testimony that the coffeehouse in question was open late at night. See also Izhak Ben-Zvi, Eretz-lsrael under Ottoman Rule(Hebrew) (Jerusalem, 1967), p. 172. On the links between Egypt, from whence coffee evidently came, and Palestine during this period, see Cohen, A. and Baer, G., eds., Egypt and Palestine(Jerusalem, 1984), especially J. R. Hacker, “Spiritual and Material Links between Egyptian and Palestinian Jewry in the Sixteenth Century,” pp. 241–250. In the early eighteenth century Richard Pococke was to report of his visit to Safed, “I was recommended to the cadi, who received me with great civilty and entertained us with coffee.” See his A Description of the East(London, 1743–45) vol. 2, p. 76.

23. See Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses, pp. 127–128. He writes furthermore that “in earlier times, there were few and particular reasons for a person to be out at night The coffeehouse did much to change this. Men went out at night to drink, meet with others, exchange information, ideas, or pleasantries, and otherwise amuse themselves.” Some of these amusements would seem to have been behind the later decision of the Jewish community of Jerusalem to prohibit bachelors from going out to Tikkun Hazotat night. See Ya'akov Barnai, “The Regulations (Taqanot)of Jerusalem in the Eighteenth Century” (Hebrew), in Amnon Cohen, ed., Jerusalem in the Early Ottoman Period(Jerusalem, 1979), p. 308 and the sources cited there.

24. On the mystical significance attributed by the Zohar to the hour of midnight, see, for example, Zohar l:242b, l 1:46a [=Tishby, Mishnat ha-Zohar, vol. 2, pp. 413–414], 111:121b. See also Fine, Safed Spirituality(New York, 1984), p. 17. It was reported that Luria, for mystical reasons, postponed marital coitus on the nights of his wife's ritual immersion until after midnight. See Moses Zacuto, Iggerot RMZ(Livorno, 1780), no. 12; H.Y.D. Azulai, Zipporen Shamir(Livorno, 1835), no. 124.

25. This view was expressed by Ira Robinson, “Messianic Prayer Vigils in Jerusalem in the Early Sixteenth Century,” Jewish Quarterly Review52 (1981): 38–42. After I wrote this article, Moshe Idel's article, “On Mishmarot and Messianism in Jerusalem in the 16th-17th Centuries” (Hebrew), Shalem5 (1987), came to my attention. Idel, too, stresses, contra Robinson (pp. 88–89), that the vigils instituted by R. Abraham in Jerusalem were considerably different from the Tikkun Hazotlater practiced in Safed.

26. Unfortunately, Hattox's otherwise quite comprehensive work fails to deal with the cities of Palestine, but it would appear that coffee came to Jerusalem, or at least to its Jews, considerably later than it did to Safed. As late as 1616 an emissary from Jerusalem in Iraq seems to have been unable to identify the drink when a cup was poured for him. See Zahalon, Yom Tov, New Responsa(Jerusalem, 1980), no. 3, previously published by Meir Benayahu in Kobez 'al Yad15 (1950): 164–166. Zahalon, who lived primarily in Safed during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, discussed elsewhere the question as to whether coffee prepared by non-Jews was permissible. See his Responsa(Venice, 1694), 1:60.

27. See Scholem, “Tradition and New Creation,” pp. 149–150. Note there the quotation that “the time from midnight to morning is a time of grace, and a ray of this grace falls upon him even in the daytime.” See also Fine, Safed Spirituality, pp. 17–18. The kabbalist R. Meir Poppers, in a work written in Jerusalem in 1643, asserted that rising at midnight “is extremely beneficial for acquiring ruah ha-kodesh.”See his Or Zaddikim(Hamburg, 1690), p. 2. The first section of that work is devoted to “the time of waking in the morning,” but most of its twentyfour paragraphs actually deal with waking at midnight for Tikkun Hazot-a sign of the custom's increasing penetration into normative practice.

28. See, for example, Poppers, Or Zaddikim1:3; Shulhan 'Arukh ha-Ari(Frankfurt, 1691), pars. 4, 12; Jacob Zemah, Naggid u-Mezavveh(Amsterdam, 1712), fol. 6a (reprint ed. [Jerusalem, 1965], pp. 12–13); Hayyim Vital, Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot(Tel-Aviv, 1960) vol. 1, fols. 353a, 374d-379d; idem, Peri 'Ez Hayyim(Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 344–352.

29. Published by Simha Assaf, “Letters from Safed” (Hebrew), Kobez 'at Yad3 (13) (1939–40): 122–123, and from there by Ya'ari, Iggerot Erez Yisrael (RamatGan, 1971), p. 205. Compare the text as published by Meir Benayahu, Toledot ha-ARI(Jerusalem, 1967), pp. 227–228. See also Scholem, “Tradition and New Creation,” p. 149, and Fine, Safed Spirituality, pp. 47–48.

30. Zacuto, Moses, Responsa(Venice, 1761), no. 59. This text seems preferable to the one published in Iggerot ha-RMZ, no. 3. Compare also the version modified by the author of Hemdat Yamim(IV, 23c) and quoted by Isaiah Tishby, “Hanhagotof Nathan of Gaza, Letters of R. Moses Zacuto, and Takkanotof Abulafia, R. Hayyim in Hemdat Yamim”(Hebrew), Kiryat Sefer 54 (1979): 172. Zacuto's opinion is also cited in a 1788 letter published by R. Bonfil, “Twelve Letters of R. Elia Levi de Veali” (Hebrew), Sinai71 (1972): 182.

31. Coffee was introduced into Venice in 1615, but in 1683 there was still only one cafe in the city (see below). Just two years before Zacuto penned his responsum, Nairone's, FaustoDiscorso delta Salutifera Bevanda Cahve 6 vero Cafe(Rome, 1671) appeared in Italian translation from the original Latin (in which it had been published in a learned journal some three years earlier; see Dufour, Traitez, p. 35). In this work Nairone described coffee as one of the miracles of nature, stating that it had been discovered by an Arabian shepherd and enthusiastically embraced by (Christian) monks who found it useful for the performance of their nocturnal orations. Its subsequent spread, he believed, had been aided by divine providence (pp. 21–23). Nairone also quoted such travelers as Pietro della Valle on the merits of coffee, and testified that during his own travels in the East during 1650 he had sampled coffee and found it beneficial primarily “per la corroboratione dello stomaco e per la vigilanza della notte” (p. 53). Writing from Turkey earlier in the century the English traveler George Sandys had commented similarly on the popular drink “black as soote, and tasting not much unlike it which helpeth, as they say, digestion, and procureth alacritie.” See Sandys Travels(London, 1673) p. 51, quoted also in Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumous; or, Purchas His Pilgrimes, vol. 8 (Glasgow, 1905), p. 146. On della Valle see below, n. 49.

32. See Gershom Scholem, s.v. “Zacuto, Moses,” EJvol. 16, cols. 906–908. Although according to the tradition cited there Zacuto had once fasted for forty days in order to forget the Latin he had acquired in his youth, the Italian edition of Nairone's work would have been accessible to him. There is, of course, no proof that he actually read it.

33. Gershom Scholem, “Regarding the Attitude of Jewish Rabbis to Sabbatianism,” (Hebrew), Zion13–14 (1948^9): 62. On R. Benjamin ha-Levi see Ya'ari, Abraham, Ta'alumat Sefer(Jerusalem, 1954), infra, and, especially on his role in the dissemination of Tikkun Hazot, Gershom Scholem, Sabbetai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, trans. R. J. Z. Werblowsky (Princeton, 1973), pp. 369–370, 478–479.

34. See Meir Benayahu, “The Holy Brotherhood of R. Judah Hasid and their Settlement in Jerusalem” (Hebrew), Sefunot3–4 (I960): 133–182, and the bibliography cited there, p. 133 n. 3.

35. Ya'ari, Abraham, Mas'aot Erez Yisrael(Ramat Gan, 1976), pp. 347348. For earlier editions of this account, see Ibid, p. 772. For the history of the observance at Samuel's grave, see idem, “History of the Pilgrimage to Meron” (Hebrew), Tarbiz31 (1962): 72–101.

36. These would seem to correspond to the Tikkun Raheland Tikkun Leahrespectively. On the similarly ceremonial use of coffee in Sufi nocturnal devotions, see the sources cited above, nn. 5, 11.

37. The quotation is from Scholem, “Tradition and New Creation,” p. 135, where a social history of Kabbalah is implicitly called for. In the present paper only some aspects of the social history of Tikkun Hazotare addressed. On some others see Scholem, Sabbetai Sevi, pp. 250, 501–504 (its history during the period of Sabbatian messianic ferment); Simha Assaf, Mekorot le-Toledot ha-Hinnukh be-Yisrael, vol. 3 (Tel-Aviv, 1936), p. 85 (on women and Tikkun Hazotin nineteenth-century Iraq). See also above, n. 23. On its recent incorporation in a demonstration at the Western Wall against the screening of films in Jerusalem on Friday nights, see Haaretz, Sept. 15, 1987, p. 1.

38. On this phenomenon see the discussions in Shulvass, M. A., Jews in the World of the Renaissance, trans. E. Kose (Leiden and Chicago, 1973), pp. 212213; Shlomo Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua(Tel Aviv, 1977), pp. 553–554; and, more extensively, Horowitz, “Jewish Confraternities in Seventeenth-Century Verona,” chap. 4.

39. Berachia, Aaron of Modena, Ashmoret ha-Boker(Mantua, 1624), fol. 264b. The actual founder of the first Shomrim la-Bokersociety, however, was Isaac Treves. See E. Horowitz, “R. Isaac b. Gershon Treves in Venice” (Hebrew), Kiryat Sefer59 (1984): 254–256. On R. Menahem Azariah's relationship to Safed kabbalism, see Isaiah Tishby, “The Confrontation between Lurianic and Cordoverian Kabbalah in the Writings and Life of R. Aaron Berachia of Modena” (Hebrew), Zion39 (1974): 9–13, and Robert Bonfil, “New Information on Rabbi Menahem Azariah da Fano and His Age” (Hebrew) in Studies in the History of Jewish Society Presented to Professor Jacob Katz(Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 103–104.

40. Aaron Berachia of Modena, Ashmoret ha-Boker(Mantua, 1624), fols. 248a-b. See also Tishby, “Confrontation between Lurianic and Cordoverian Kabbalah,” p. 21, n. 37, who notes the evident disingenuousness of Modena's claim to have known nothing of the (probably Lurianic) rite observed by Sarug. On the latter, see Gershom Scholem, “Was Israel Sarug a Disciple of Luria?” (Hebrew), Zion5 (1939–40): 214–243. On Cordovero, see Abraham David, s.v. “Cordovero, Gedaliah,” EJ5:967, and the bibliography cited there. The somewhat misleading assertion, however, is made there that in Modena both Sarug and Cordovero “urged the adoption of the Safed customs of rising early to mourn for the destruction of the Temple and to pray for the redemption.” Compare also Ya'ari, Abraham, Sheluhei Erez Yisrael(Jerusalem, 1977), p. 151.

41. Neither one adheres, furthermore, to the custom which, according to R. Aaron Berachia, was followed by his grandfather R. Hillel Modena of Viadana, who would remain awakeeach night until after midnight, and then recite verses from Daniel and the Book of Psalms while sitting on the ground (Ashmoret ha-Boker, fol. 248b). This, too, was evidently excessively demanding for the wider public.

42. Alperon, Jacob, Responsa Nahalal Ya'akov(Padua, 1622), pp. 6 ff. On the author, see Mortara, Marco, Indice Alfabetico dei Rabbini e Scrittori hraeliti(Padua, 1886), p. 3, to which add now Shlomo Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan(Jerusalem, 1982–86), index, s.v. “Jacob Alperon” (especially vol. 3, pp. 1777, 1785), and Daniel Carpi, ed., Pinkas Padovah, vol. 2 (Jerusalem, 1979), where he appears between 1618 and 1625.

43. Portaleone, Abraham, Shiltei ha-Giborim(Mantua, 1612), fol. 132b. The author, who was a prominent physician, may have been professionally prejudiced against nocturnal study. The physician Amatus Lusitanus, upon treating another Mantuan Jew, Azariah dei Rossi, in the mid-sixteenth century, wrote concerning the latter's symptoms: “Here we must refer to study at night, which is harmful and contrary to nature and is therefore to be avoided; at night the spirits withdraw into the interior, and the effort and excitement of study forces them out.” See Harry Friedenwald, The Jews and Medicine(Baltimore, 1944), vol. 2, p. 400. Contrast these remarks, however, with those of another physician-Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Talmud Torah3:13. The social and intellectual history of nocturnal study among the Jews, like the history of nocturnal prayer, requires a separate monograph.

44. For some of these see Moritz Steinschneider, Catalogus Bodleiana, 2nd ed. (Berlin, 1931), nos. 3001, 3003, 3004, 3022 (hereafter cited as CE).For a more extensive discussion of these editions see Horowitz,“ Jewish Confraternities in Seventeenth-Century Verona,” pp. 198–199.

45. See above, n. 38. On Rome see also Vogelstein, H. and Rieger, P., Geschichte der Juden in Rom(Berlin, 1895), vol. 2, p. 316; on Modena see Tishby, “The Confrontation,” pp. 35–45, where R. Abraham Berachia's comments on developments in other communities are also quoted. On Venice and Verona see Elliott Horowitz, “Jewish Confraternal Piety in the Veneto in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” in G. Cozzi, ed., Gli Ebrei e Venezia(Milan, 1987), pp. 304 ff.

46. Simonsohn (Mantua, p. 557) points to its existence in 1637, but from the testimony of R. Aaron Berachia of Modena we know of its existence a decade earlier. See Tishby, “The Confrontation,” p. 41. A Seder Hazotwas then available in the Seder ve-Tikkun Keriat Shema, published in Prague in 1615 (Steinschneider, CB, no. 3082), but it is unlikely that this work was used by the Mantuan confraternity. Their failure to publish a prayerbook of their own, which would have been the first of its sort in Italy, testifies to their own recognition of the custom's lack of popularity in that country.

47. For a similar attempt to make use of latitudinal differences in explaining the difference between customs, see Israel Ta-Shema, “The 'Addition' to the Sabbath” (Hebrew), Tarbiz52 (1982–83): 317, 322. See also idem, “Two Sabbath Lights” (Hebrew), Tarbiz45 (1975–76): 136–137.

48. See Zacuto, Iggerol ha-RMZ, no. 11, where the opinion of R. Hayyim Vital is also cited. Abraham Rovigo, who had queried Zacuto on this matter, was evidently unhappy with his master's ruling that in the summer the Tikkuncould be recited shortly before or after dawn, but never before midnight. He was emboldened to inquire what the saintly ARI did in the summer on the nights of his wife's ritual ablutions, after which he would wait until midnight before performing intercourse (see above, n. 24). R. Moses responded curtly that the ARI would certainly have risen before dawn even then, “but there is no need to inform us of this, since it is obvious.” See Ibid, no. 12. On special summer hours for Tikkun Hazotsee also Isaiah Bassan, Lahmei Todah(Venice, 1741) fol. 88d.

49. On the reports of Prospero Alpini and Pietro della Valle, see Jacob, Coffee: Epic of a Commodity, p. 44, and Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, p. 256. The latter had written from Constantinople in 1615 concerning coffee that “when drunk after supper, it prevents those who consume it from feeling sleepy. For that reason students who wish to read into the late hours of the night are fond of it.” See also above, n. 31.

50. Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life;Robert Hewitt, Coffee: Its History, Cultivation, and Uses(1872), p. 17; Enciclopedia Italiana(1930), s.v. “Caffe,” vol. 8, pp. 262–263; Pilot, La bottega, pp. 6–7.

51. Morosini, Giulio, Via dellafede mostrata a'gli Ebrei(Rome, 1683), vol. 1, pp. 245–246. On the date of his baptism, see Y. H. Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto(New York, 1971), p. 201, n. 14. Roth, Cecil, in his [History of the Jews in] Venice(Philadelphia, 1930, p. 142, drew heavily upon Morosini's description without indicating his source. Earlier in that work, however, Roth noted that Morosini's Viais “extraordinarily replete with information for the reconstruction of the social history of the Ghetto” in the author's day Ibid, p. 118). On Morosini see most recently Benjamin Ravid, “Contra Judaeos in Seventeenth-Century Italy: Two Responses to the Discorsoof Simone Luzzatto by Melchiore Palontrotti and Giulio Morosini,” AJS Review7–8 (1982–83): 328–348, and the literature cited there, p. 328 n. 57. Ravid has correctly observed that the work still awaits systematic examination, especially from the perspective of its relationship to the descriptions of Jewish rites by Johannes Buxtorf and Leone Modena (p. 339). For one attempt to do so, see my study “The Eve of the Circumcision: A Chapter in the History of Jewish Nightlife,” Journal of Social History, in press.

52. Nathan Shapiro, Tuv Ha-Aretz(Venice, 1655), fols. 64b-68b. See Steinschneider, CB, no. 3024 and s.v. “Nathan Spira.” On the author and his role, together with R. Benjamin ha- Levi of Safed, in the dissemination of Tikkun Hazotand other Lurianic devotions in Italy, see Scholem, “Attitude of Jewish Rabbis to Sabbatianism,” p. 62, and idem, Sabbetai Sevi, pp. 370, 478–479.

53. For the foundation of Verona's Hazot, see Navarra's, Menahem introduction to Seder Tikkun Hazot(Mantua, 1746) and Zunz, Leopold, Die Ritus des synagogalen Gottesdienstes(Berlin, 1919), p. 152. On the Ferrara Hazot Laila confraternity, note the Seder ve-Tikkunfor the nights of Shavuot and Hoshana Rabbah it published in Mantua, 1655. The work is not mentioned by Steinschneider, but a copy is found in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

54. The text of Galante's customs was published by Solomon Schechter in the appendix to his “Safed in the Sixteenth Century,” Studies in Judaism: Second Series.See there p. 295, and, for the translation, Fine, Safed Spirituality, p. 43. See also the discussion of the Shavuot vigil in Wilhelm, Y. D., “Sidrei Tikkunim, ”in Alei 'Ayin: The Salman Schocken Jubilee Volume(Hebrew) (Jerusalem, 1948–1952), pp. 125129, and Scholem, “Tradition and New Creation,” p. 139. For Galante's date of death, however, which Wilhelm places prematurely at 1560, see David Tamar, Studies in the History of the Jewish People in Eretz Israel and in Italy(Hebrew) (Jerusalem, 1972), pp. 104–106. R. Hayyim Vital expressed the view that anyone who avoided sleeping for even a minute on the night of Shavuot would be assured of surviving the coming year. For his view and those of others, see Wilhelm, “Sidrei Tikkunim” (cited above). R. Isaiah Horowitz, in “Massekhet Shavuot” of his Shne Luhot ha-Berit(reprint, Jerusalem, 1963), pt. 2, fol. 29c, completed in Palestine during the 1620s, encourages wakefulness on that night for one who wishes to “cling to holiness.” See also Moses ibn Makhir, Seder ha-Yom(Lublin, 1876), fol. 38b.

55. Schechter, Studies, p. 296; Fine, Safed Spirituality, p. 44; Isaiah Horowitz, Shne Luhot ha-Berit(“Massekhet Sukkah”), pt. 2, fol. 76a. See also Moses ibn Makhir, Seder ha-Yom, fol. 46c (“some remain awake and do not sleep at all”). For other sources, as well as a discussion of the Hoshana Rabbah rite before the sixteenth century, see also Wilhelm, “Sidrei Tikkunim,” pp. 138–143.

56. Mekiz Redumim(Mantua, 1648), introduction. Rieti had also been responsible for much of the Ayelet ha-Shahar, published there in 1612 by the local Shomrim la-Bokersociety. On Mekiz Redumimsee also Wilhelm, “Sidrei Tikkunim,” p. 142. Its author had been dead for some twenty-five years before it was published (see Ibid, and Simonsohn, Mantua, p. 731). This, too, reflects the initial lack of receptiveness in Italy for a special rite for Hoshana Rabbah. The day eventually became a kind of festival for the Shomrim la-Bokersocieties in that country. See Horowitz, “Jewish Confraternal Piety,” p. 312, and G. Laras, “Un Componinento Poetico di J. M Padoa,” Rassegna Mensile di Israel36 (1970), pt. 2, pp. 193–203.1 hope to discuss the Hoshana Rabbah vigil somewhat further in a future article.

57. Seder Keriat Ve-Tikkun (?) le-Lailei Hag Shavuot ve-Hoshana Rabbah(Venice, 1648). See Steinschneider, CB, no. 3046; Meir Benayahu, Copyright, Authorization and Imprimatur in Venice(Jerusalem, 1971), pp. 279–281; as well as the comments of Wilhelm, “Sidrei Tikkunim,” p. 143.

58. Shapira, Tuv ha-Aretz, fols. 74b-76b. The custom of remaining awake all night in study is described there as “minhag pashut be-Yisrael.”In 1659, four years after the publication of Tuv ha-Aretz, the now rare Shefer Tikkunim, containing a liturgy for these two nights by R. Moses Zacuto, was first published in Venice. See Steinschneider, CB, no. 3049, and Benayahu, Copyright, p. 280. Later editions appeared in Venice in 1674, 1682, 1696, 1706, and 1717. Of these I have examined only the last three, none of which explicitly refers to the custom of remaining awake on either of the nights. See further below, no. 80.

59. On the sense of competitiveness with Shomrim la-Bokeron the part of the adherents of Tikkun Hazot, note the introduction of R. Nathan Nata Hannover to Sha'arei Ziyyon(Prague, 1662). The author had spent time in Italy in the 1650s and had been closely associated with the Palestinian emissaries Nathan Shapira and Benjamin ha-Levi, whose views he would seem to echo. See Israel Halpern, s.v. “Hannover, Nathan” EJ 1:1273–74.

60. Pilot, La bottega, p. 13.

61. Ber, Shabbetai, Responsa Beer Esek(Venice, 1674), no. 105. In a letter of advice written by another Italian rabbi, Samuel Aboab (d. 1691), to a scholar planning emigration to the land of Israel, he saw fit to warn him “to be strict with regard to the prohibition of remaining alone with [non-Jewish] maidservants and also with regard to their performance of work on the Sabbath and in heating the drink [called] coffee.” See Responsa Devar Shemuel(Venice, 1702), no. 156.

62. Zacuto, Iggerot RMZ, nos. 11–12. See above, n. 48.

63. Ukers, All about Coffee, pp. 27–28.

64. Pilot, La bottega, p. 13. On the coffeehouses of eighteenth-century Venice, see also Hazlitt, W. C., The Venetian Republic(London, 1900), pp. 791792 and the sources cited there; Maurice Andrieux, Daily Life in Venice in the Time of Casanova, trans. M. Fitton (London, 1972), pp. 22–23, 48–49; Lane, F. C., Venice: A Maritime Republic(Baltimore, 1973), pp. 425, 433. On those of Florence, see Eric Cochrane, Florence in the Forgotten Centuries, 1527–1800(Chicago, 1973), pp. 364–365. On the influential periodical IL Caffe, published in Brescia from 1764 by a group of Milanese intellectuals, see Ukers, All About Coffee, p. 30, and, more recently, D. Carpanetto and G. Ricuperati, Italy in the Age of Reason, 1685–1789, trans. C. Higgit (London and New York, 1987), esp. pp. 262–266.

65. Carletto, Giacomo, II ghetto veneziano nel Settecento(Rome, 1981), p. 146 and table 13. See also Ibid, pp. 191, 251.

66. Although a survey of the Jewish merchants in 1717 listed none in the coffee business, a similar survey in 1739 showed a greater number dealing in coffee and cocoa (6) than in flour and pasta. See Simonsohn, Mantua, pp. 77, 306–307, 530, 548–549.

67. A broadside published on 12 May 1755 by the Podesta of Verona at the Jewish community's expense threatened offenders with a fine of 100 ducats. It referred to previous mandatiof 22 December 1745 and 6 June 1749, both of which pointed to the “ pessime consequenze e perniziosi effeti” which might result from the introduction, by day or night, of “Donne di qualunque religione in... loro Boteghe di Caffe.” A copy has been preserved in theArchivio di Stato di Verona, Archivio del Comune: Proclami e stampa, busta 222 no. 374.1 thank its director for permission to examine and photocopy the document.

68. A summary of the 1726 statutes is provided by Abraham Berliner, Geschichte der Juden in Rom(Frankfurt, 1893), vol. 2, p. 196. For Ancona, see Pragmatica da osservarsi dalli singoli dell' Universitd degli Ebrei d ' Ancona(Ancona, 1766), pp. 12–13, and for Mantua, below, n. 74. It may thus be argued that the spread of coffee played a role in the transformation of the vegliain Italy, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from a festive celebration into a night-long rite of prayer and study. See my “Eve of the Circumcision,” cited above, n. 51.

69. Cf. Shohet, Azriel, Beginnings of the Haskalah among German Jewry(Hebrew) (Jerusalem, 1960), especially chap. 7. For Italy see now Lois Dubin, “Trieste and Berlin: The Italian Role in the Cultural Politics of the Haskalah,” in Jacob Katz, ed., Toward Modernity: The European Jewish Model(New York and Oxford, 1987), pp. 189–224.

70. See, for example, C. B. Friedberg, Bet 'Eked Sefarim, p. 1122.

71. See Navarra's, Menahem introduction to Seder Tikkun Hazot(Mantua, 1746), which was published for the confraternity.

72. Pinkas Hevrat Shomrim la-Boker, Verona, MS Jerusalem 4°559. The relevant section is not paginated.

73. Simonsohn, Mantua, p. 557.

74. For example, the laws of 1771, par. 34, where coffee is limited on the eve of the circumcision to those studying around the table. The same limitation reappeared in the regulations of 1776 and 1782. On these editions of the Mantuan sumptuary legislation, see Simonsohn, Mantua, pp. 541–542.

75. Pragmalica inslituita da osservarsi dalli singoli dell' Universita degli Ebrei di Modena(Florence, 1765), p. 12, par. 10.

76. Seder Mishmeret ha-Ben(Livorno, 1763); Tikkun Hazot(Livorno, 1765).

77. The merger occurred on 21 December 1768, as may be seen in the minute-book preserved in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, HM 181.

78. Unna, Avigdor, ed., Register of Statutes and Protocols of the Hevra Kadisha of Worms 1716–1837(Hebrew and Yiddish) (Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 6465.

79. Ibid pp. 100–101, 106–107. See also pp. 118–119, 140–141, 146–147, 150–151. The status of coffee as a relative novelty among mid-eighteenth-century German Jewry is also evident in one of the sermons delivered by R. Jonathan Eyebeschuetz in Metz during the 1740s. The latter, berating his congregants for their conservative resistance to spiritual reform, asked them why they so willingly drank coffee, tea, and chocolate even though these, too, were unknown to their ancestors. See his Ya'arot Devash(Jerusalem, 1984), vol. 2, p. 80, and see also the Jerusalem, 1972, edition, p. 67. I thank Prof. S. Z. Leiman for drawing my attention to this sermon. For a reference by Eyebeschuetz to the same three beverages in another context, see Shohet, Beginnings of the Haskalah, p. 275, n. 71. The use of coffee as a metaphor for newness requires more extensive study.

80. See, for example, Tikkun Hoshana Rabbah(Venice, 1728), fol. 101a. This work appears to be modeled upon the edition of Amsterdam, 1727. For the earliest publication (1710) of the prayer to be recited at the end of the Hoshana Rabbah vigil, see Wilhelm, “Sidrei Tikkunim,” p. 143. See also Tikkun Leil Shavuot(Venice, 1730), fol. 68a. In contrast to the editions oiShefer Tikkunimwhich began to appear in the seventeenth century (cf. above, n. 58), the all-night character of the Shavuot rite is stressed in its introduction. For eighteenth-century editions of the two Tikkunim, see Friedberg, Bet 'Eked Sefarim, p. 1123.

81. See above, n. 64. On the number of cafes, see also Andrieux, Daily Life, p. 22. On coffee in the Hoshana Rabbah vigil in Ancona, see the 1766 Pragmatica(cited above, n. 68), par. 16.

82. Andrieux, Daily Life, p. 23. Note also Hazlitt, Venetian Republic, pp. 791–792 (especially his quotation from Romanin), and Ukers, All About Coffee, p. 28.

83. Charles Thompson, Travels of the Late Charles Thompson, Containing His Observations on France, Italy, Turkey in Europe, 1744, vol. 1, p. 257. On Mediterranean religiosity, see the brief but suggestive remarks of Braudel, Mediterranean World, pp. 832–833. Mention should perhaps be made in this connection of the criticism by the moralist R. Eliezer Papo of those who hurried through Selihoton the first night of their recitation in order to allow time for sitting afterwards in the coffeehouses. See his Pele Yo'etz(Bucharest, 1860), p. 208, cited also by Low (above, n. 8).

84. Braudel, Mediterranean World, p. 833.

85. Israel Joseph Benjamin (Benjamin II), Eight Years in Asia and Africa: From 1846 to 1855(Hanover, 1859), pp. 282, 284.

86. Agnon, S. Y., A Simple Story, trans. Hillel Halkin (New York, 1985), pp. 163164.

87. Sipporin, Stephen, “Continuity and Innovation in the Jewish Festivals in Venice, Italy” (Ph.D. diss., Indiana, 1982), p. 147. The author regards the funeral customs of Venetian Jewry as an “example of the oldest stratum of folk culture which serves the community today” (Ibid, p. 143).

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry

  • Elliott Horowitz (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.