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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

The Jewish Killer (שוחט) as Executioner.

One day the Jewish Shochet of Zafed was at Akko. Suddenly there came some Guwassés (servants) of the Pacha, to seek him, with the command to appear before his highness without delay. He was greatly terrified; for he could form no idea why he was so suddenly summoned, and augured nothing good. When he had been speedily conducted before the Pacha, one may imagine his surprise to see a Bedouin lying bound, and to hear the Pacha giving him the command to slay this man, since he was a practised killer. The Jew knew well enough that he should always be regarded by the friends, acquaintances, and adherents of this Bedouin, as his murderer, and would therefore never more be sure of his life, since the offence could only be atoned for by a vengeance of blood for blood. He therefore fell on his knees before the Pacha, and had the presence of mind to free himself from the execution of the unpleasant order by a ready invention. “I am, gracious Lord,” he said, “a poor man, the father of a numerous family, whom I support in a very humble manner by my office of killer; if I, however, were to obey thy august command, to slay this Bedouin, I would not be fit any more, according to our Talmudic rules, to act as Shochet; because the hand which once has shed human blood, can never again slay cattle for the food of man, and I should thus be without bread for myself and family, and we would be sunk into the greatest distress.” The Pacha was deeply moved on hearing the words of this poor head of a family, and said, “If this be so, then go. thy way, as I will not deprive a poor man entirely of his bread;” and he seized the sword, and cut off, himself, the head of the Bedouin, out of pure compassion for the killer.

Jews and Muslims in Palestine