This study publishes a newly identified letter to Moses Maimonides reconstructed from three Geniza fragments. The letter describes an inheritance dispute over real estate in the Egyptian delta town of al-Maḥalla. Having a letter written by a litigant provides information on what took place outside of court, information that is often missing from legal records. This allows us to explore the dynamics of a dispute in which one side makes a legal move, and the other counters with a move outside of court, and vice versa. These manoeuvrings included action in Jewish and Muslim courts, appeal to a jurisconsult, social pressure and performative disregard to the boundaries of the religious communities. As a result, we can conceive of the legal arena not only as encompassing different legal institutions but also as a social space constituted by the ways litigants experienced and interacted with legal institutions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study has been supported by the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, an Urbach fellowship from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at The Hebrew University.
© 2018 Society for the Medieval Mediterranean.
- Rambi Publications
- Cairo Genizah
- Manuscripts, Judeo-Arabic
- Domestic relations (Jewish law)
- Rabbinical courts -- Egypt