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Tahdid Ritual

The word Tahdid comes from hdid, metal, in Arabic, bringing in technologies of metallurgy to Jewish protection rituals against the evil eye. The older women used to hold the mother and baby ‘hostage’ in the mother's room and barter jokingly with the men who were knocking at the door and begging to come in. Joking negotiations back and forth in Judeo-Arabic were meant to make everyone laugh and ensure that everyone understood where the real power was. Once allowed into the mother’s room, the men sang liturgical poetry in Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew, lightly tapped ritual swords against the walls of the four corners of the room, on the baby’s crib and on the four cardinal points, all the places where the evil spirits are said to hide. They then continued singing mystical poems and murmuring prayers in Hebrew and Aramaic. The women finished with loud yuyus (ululations) of celebration, sonically marking the final blanket of protection around the mother and child. Afterwards there is a feast.

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