Little Bags of Poison

Two weeks ago, my 88-year-old mother’s unit block was unroofed in a ‘supercell’ storm, and the residents were evacuated. I have been too preoccupied since then to post anything to my blog – so I’m taking the lazy way out, by reposting something I wrote 3 years ago. A day after the report on CIA torture was released, it seems appropriate.

Historians are Past Caring

The year was 1348, and terror haunted Europe.  An inexplicable, horrifying disease was spreading from city to city along the trade routes, killing as it went.  Within 4 years, perhaps a third of the population died, and nobody knew why.

In their fear, people looked for explanations – and scapegoats.  In Savoy, the authorities rounded up a number of Jews, men and women, and questioned them under torture.  One of them, Agimet of Geneva, had recently been to Venice to buy silk.  Before he left, according to his confession, he was approached by ‘a teacher of their law’, Rabbi Peyret, who gave him ‘a little package of half a span in size which contains some prepared poison and venom in a thin, sewed leather bag.’

‘Agimet took this package full of poison and carried it with him to Venice, and when he came there he threw and scattered a…

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