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Filthy Shadows

Sunday Times “me” columnist, India Knight, writes:

My former husband and I once went to look at a house we were thinking of buying in a Jewish Orthodox bit of London. As it happened we were the only non-Orthodox people on that bit of pavement that morning. I noticed a group of Hassidim were walking around us in a peculiar way. “They’re avoiding our shadows,” the estate agent said, “because we’re unclean.” I didn’t think much of that, either.

Hassidic jews are odd in many ways, and do subscribe to a religion with a peculiar preoccupation with ritual purity.

I’ve noticed that many are reluctant to shake my hand, and I am led to believe that their concern is that they will be rendered unclean on account of my having a running issue out of my flesh, or having touched the bed of somebody with a running issue out of his flesh, or having been spat on by somebody with a running issue out of his flesh, or having merely touched somebody with a running issue out of his flesh, without having waited seven days and bathed my flesh in running water. I also appreciate that Hassidic jews may have a real concern that my seed of copulation might have gone out from me, or that I might have sat on a bed on which a woman who has an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, or that I could have lain with such a woman, and her flowers be upon me: again, all without having had a bath.

These are all real concerns. On reflection, I think Hassidic jews are right not to shake my hand.

However, I have not noticed that my Hassidic jewish neighbours making any particular effort to avoid my shadow. I am not aware of any religious basis upon which they might do so.

Perhaps H.P. readers can enlighten me, and India Knight.

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