GAMES AND SPORTS:(Redirected from SAMEK AND PE.)
Playful methods of enjoying leisure moments. The ancient Hebrews practised target-shooting with arrows (I Sam. xx. 20; Job xvi. 12; Lam. iii. 12; comp. also Bacher in "R. E. J." xxvi. 63), or with slings and stones (Judges xx. 16; I Sam. xvii. 40; Zech. ix. 15). Mention is also made of lifting heavy stones (Zech. xii. 3; Jerome, ad loc.), foot-racing (Ps. xix. 6 [A. V. 5]), and jumping (Ps. xviii. 30 [A. V. 29]). As these games were intended to strengthen the body and make the participants fit for war, so guessing-games (Judges xiv. 14; I Kings x. 1-3; Josephus, "Ant." viii. 5, § 3; 6, § 5; comp. Wünsche, "Die Räthsel-weisheit bei den Hebräern," Leipsic, 1883) were intended to sharpen the intellect. See
The Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Midrash mention dice (
The increasing seriousness of the conception of life banished games and diversions, only those being permitted that stimulated thought, as riddles and questioning of Bible passages (
Other games found among the Jews at an early date are such as were played with apples, eggs, and marbles, as well as, "riemenstechen," "knight and robbers," "shilach shik," "pani roizi," "quittlach," "robber caravan," "head and eagle," "Abraham's horse," "David ha-Malech," "rime-counting," etc. (see Ulrich, "Juden in der Schweiz," pp. 140, 142). In dancing, the sexes were strictly separated (this was a rule even for the children in the street); exceptions were made only in the case of father and daughter, married couples, and brothers and sisters. Every large community, as those of Eger, Augsburg, Rothenburg, and Frankfort-on-the-Main, had its dance-house ("bet ḥatanot"), used also for weddings, the dwelling-houses being too small for such occasions. The "Totentanz" and "Dr. Faustus" are of non-Jewish origin, as probably also the "fish-dance" of the Sephardim in Sarajevo. Letter-games, in which corresponding words or phrases are found, the numerical values of the letters in each when added being equal (see GemaṬria), are as old as Old Testament times. Thus "baruk Mordekai" = "arur Haman" = 502. In another game one child cites a verse, and the next child recites a second one that begins with the letter with which the first verse closed. In the "samek and pe" game, one child chooses samek and the other pe ; a copy of the Pentateuch is then opened, and according as there are more sameks or pes on the page the child who has so chosen wins. In the "Moshe" game, one chooses a right-hand page and the other a left-hand page of a Ḥumash; whoever is the first to find the letters "mem, shin, he" in this sequence among the four end letters of a page wins. As children were not allowed to be punished in the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Ab, they took full advantage of this opportunity to mock the teacher; hence the "rabbi game."
The Jews became acquainted with cards in the fifteenth century. Leon da Modena was ruined by them. It was a Jewess who wrote the most pointed pamphlet against cards, and the gemaṭria "cards = 259 = Satan" was intended to warn against them. Many vowed never to touch cards again, or at least to play only for harmless stakes. One Jew was even willing to have his hand cut off as punishment. Finally, the communities, as at Hamburg, Forli, and Bologna, took up the matter in their "taḳḳanot" (statutes). Nevertheless cards were allowed at Christmas, Purim, Ḥol ha-Moed, Sukkot, on the eve of Ḥanukkah, and in the lying-in room.
- I. L. Saalschütz, Archäologie der Hebräer;
- W. M. L. de Wette, Lehrbuch der Hebräisch-Jüdischen Archäologie;
- Zunz, Z. G.;
- Berliner, Aus dem Inneren Leben der Juden im Mittelalter;
- Löw, Lebensalter in der Jüdischen Literatur;
- Güdemann, Gesch. des Erziehungswesens und der Cultur der Abendländischen Juden;
- Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Index.