According to Negaim 3:1, the laws of negaim only apply to Jews (הכל מטּמאין בנגעים חוץ מגוים), but according to Negaim 2:1 they apply to people from Germany (גרמני) and Ethiopia (or Numibia, etc; ״כוש״). Unless we assume that this mishna disagrees with the other (and implies that even non-Jews can be subject to the laws of negaim), the implication would seem to be that there were Jews in both countries and that they looked like the rest of the population. Is there evidence for this outside of this mishna?

Note: Obviously, there was no such "country" as Germany; I am assuming that the mishna is referring to a central-European region, roughly commensurate with where Germany is today.

  • 1.- Tsaraat may be in all people, jew or not (as Naaman). Diney tsaraat are only for mekabley hatora. 2.- There is no theoretical objection to the fact that appearance or a Jew looks like German or Kushi.
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 23:50
  • 1
    @kouty - my question is about the laws of negaim, not the negaim themselves. Neg 2:1 speaks of Germans and Ethiopians being assessed by kohanim.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 0:15
  • So what. you read the 2.-?
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 0:22
  • It might have just assumed that converts from both locations were possible (or had happened at least once). I'm not saying there weren't Jews in those places, I just don't think your proof is very convincing.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 0:38
  • @kouty - are you saying that a Jew, living in Judea, who has pale skin was referred to as a "German"?? I would be open to that possibility if another mishna used similar language, but see the reference to pale-skinned people in Bekhorot (לבקן, if I'm remembering correctly).
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


In the footnotes to kinnah 25, which talks about the First Crusade, the Artscroll Ashkenazi Kinnot quotes Seder Hadorot, who quotes the Sm"a as saying about the Jewish community of Worms:

That kehillah was founded by Jewish exiles who made their way to Germany following the Destruction of the First Temple. After seventy years of exile, many Jews returned from Babylon to Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, but none returned from Worms ... Instead, they responded 'You stay where you were in the great Jerusalem, and we will continue to stay where we are in the little Jerusalem!'

  • A scan, photo, or blockquote of the footnote would greatly improve this answer.
    – ezra
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 17:45
  • @EzraHoerster I had forgotten to edit that in, thanks.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:00
  • The book (hebrew) HaAshkenzaim HaRishonim brings a few examples of such legends, and points out they were clearly invented to distance the local Jews from the killing of Jesus. For example, Regensburg had a similar legend, but Regensburg was only founded in the fourth century at the earliest (from memory.) kotar.co.il/kotarapp/index/… Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:22
  • @DanielEvalUlay - So what you're saying is these legends were invented by Ashkenazim in order to say to the local accusing Christians, "we were not even in Jerusalem when Jesus was killed."
    – ezra
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 15:46
  • @DanielEvalUlay If I wanted to create a legend to avoid persecution, I would try to avoid inventing one that involved "my ancestors considered exile to be just as good as Yerushalayim." (No I have not made aliyah, but I'm not proud of that, and I wouldn't justify it by saying America is equivalent to Eretz Yisrael. Of course it's not.)
    – Heshy
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:02

The Mishna is referring to the nations from those localities, not to Jews who lived in those areas, who would mostly retain their Jewish complexion. I assume the Mishna is theoretical, and discussing people with lighter or darker skin, and just giving these nations as extreme examples. Also, we can safely assume that Germans and Ethiopians were passing through Eretz Yisrael and that some of them stayed and converted, so the Mishna would be dealing with Ethiopians and Germans in Eretz Yisrael, not Jews in Germany or Ethiopia

  • Hi Daniel. The question was "Is there evidence for this outside of this mishna?" You don't seem to have brought any, so I don't see how this qualifies as an answer.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 14:50

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