67. Djuha and the Mules (IFA 8509)
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67 Djuha and the Mules T O L D B Y M I C H A E L S A K F A T O M O S H E B R O K H O F F On yawm souq al guma’i—livestock market day, which was Friday—the Turkish army in Jerusalem used to “draft” mules, expropriating them for government service. Soldiers armed with batons strolled through the market and confiscated the mules of the peasants who had brought them into town to sell them. If a peasant dared open his mouth in protest and objected to the confiscation of his mule, he was rewarded with stout blows. Sometimes he was even hauled off to the Kishle (the barracks next to the Tower of David in the Old City), where he was bastinadoed on the soles of his feet until the blood flowed freely. This was his “reward” for his long tongue and slander of the Ottoman government. Once this scene was played out before H. usham,* ke se pisho in la braga** out of fear. Harnessing all his remaining strength he ran away from the marketplace while he still could. As he was running for dear life, his friends stopped him. “What’s the matter, Husham?” they asked. “Who are you running from? Do you think you’re one of the mules?” “How can you ask whom I’m running from?” replied H. usham, in his panic. “Have you been struck blind? Don’t you see that the army is impressing all the mules for use in an emergency? I’m afraid they’ll grab me along with the mules. And until they discover they made a mistake and I’m not a mule, I’ll pant out my soul from the weight of the burden they’ll load on me. So I’d better run home and not loiter in the street.” 578 * Sephardic narrators in Israel sometime employ the name “H.usham,” instead of Djuha, for the numskull in the tales. This is a biblical name of one of the Edomite kings (Genesis 36:34, 35; 1 Chronicles 1:45, 46) that became in Yiddish one of the synonyms for fool (“khushim[nik]”; see N. Stutchkoff, Thesaurus of the Yiddish Language, 305. From the Yiddish, the term entered modern Hebrew, and a few Sephardic narrators in Israel employed it in their Djuha tales. •• Ladino for “who pissed in his pants” COMMENTARY FOR TALE 67 (IFA 8509 ) Recorded by Moshe Brokhoff of Jerusalem from Michael Sakfa in 1969. In this tale, Djuha responds to a specific local and historical situation. Analytical descriptions of this period and the recruitment practices of the Ottoman army are available.1 Folklore Motifs • J1700 “Fools.” • J2600 “Cowardly fool.” • W121 “Cowardice.” __________ Notes __________ 1. Efrati, The Jewish Community in Eretz Yisra’el during World War I; and Markowitzky, “Conflict of Loyalties.” 67 / Djuha and the Mules  579  ...