In ancient times, superstition, like sorcery or witchcraft, reeked of paganism, and as such it was a big no-no for the Jews. But since Jews are human, we couldn’t let this funky customs slip by.
Take spitting, for example. Some of it is sanctioned. Some of it is just bizarre. For years, Jews have taken to expectorating three times—maybe you’ve heard a parent say “pu, pu, pu”—after seeing or hearing of something terrible, a safeguard against having the Evil Eye turn its icy gaze on you.
But depending on where you are, or where you were, spitting can come with great power. In Brody, Poland (now Ukraine), if two kids were in argument, and one were to spit at the other, the victim might want to embrace that spit. Why? Think of it as an old-world version of the old “I’m rubber you’re glue” taunt.
This regional Jewish superstition dictated that the disgrace of the saliva on the spittee reflects right back on the spitter, thereby transferring all of the spittee’s sins to the spitter. As far as we know, this particular superstition—along with the Jewish community that nurtured it—was lost in the Holocaust.
Unless there’s something about modern-day spitting norms that no one ever told us.
December 15, 2016