Summary This article focuses on a chapter in a manual on circumcision written in Worms in the thirteenth century by Jacob and Gershom haGozrim (the circumcisers). The third chapter of the manual contains medical instruction on how to attend to women in labour and other gynaecological conditions. Whereas the first two chapters of the manual were published in the late nineteenth century, the midwifery chapter has only been recently examined. This article is comprised of a translation of the midwifery text(s) along with an introduction to the text and the community practices it reflects. It outlines the cooperation between medical practitioners, male and female, Jewish and Christian, and discusses the medical remedies recommended and some practices current in thirteenth-century Germany.
In recent years, pre-modern beds have generated extensive scholarly interest. Their social, religious, and economic importance has been rightfully highlighted in the study of domestic piety. Yet, concern has primarily focused on beds in late medieval English homes. This essay uses Hebrew texts from thirteenth-century Southern Germany, primarily Sefer Hasidim, to further this analysis of the role of the bed in shaping medieval domestic devotion. Jewish notions about the social, moral, and sexual significance of the bed reflect those identified in late medieval Christian culture. These ideas inspired numerous rituals practiced in Jewish homes. Yet, the bed and the remnants of sex assumed to be found in it also frustrated Jewish attempts to perform domestic devotion. These findings highlight the complicated nature of the home and how medieval people had to navigate both its opportunities and challenges in order to foster a rich culture of domestic devotion.