The story of the magical suitcase that found its way to Russia

by Leah Rosenberg

Do Jews believe in magic?  If this magical suitcase is any proof, they most certainly do.

This unique suitcase contains numerous Jewish amulets made out of parchment.  The idea of the amulets was to protect a person to achieve success.  These go back to the 19th century.  The tradition of Jewish magic and demons is not a new phenomenon.  Even among the most rational of people, until recently, these kinds of amulets were commonly used.

Travelling Amulets

Dr. Finkelman, a curator at the National Library of Israel reveals to us that these special amulets made their way from North Africa to Russia to the United States and now to the National Library in Jerusalem.

Angles and demons are mentioned numerous times in the Bible and the Talmud.  Dr. Finkelman explains that magic in earlier times was very much like modern medicine today.

Sephardic vs. Ashkenazic Jewry

I would argue that even today, many of the Sephardic Jews, who hail from North Africa or Arab Lands such as Iraq or Yemen, still believe in the effectiveness of these amulets.  In previous elections for the State of Israel, some Kabbalistic Rabbis distributed amulets to those who voted for specific parties.  This only works if people actually believe in them.

However, most Ashkenazic Jews in modern times are more skeptical about things like amulets.


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