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Religions 2017, 8(10), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8100225

“He Who Enters the Bath-House Utters Two Blessings”: On the Evolvement and Decline of an Ancient Jewish Prayer

Israel Heritage Department, Ariel University, Kiryat hamadda P.O.B. 3, Ariel 40700, Israel
Received: 10 August 2017 / Revised: 25 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract

One of the improvements introduced by the Romans was the public bath-house. This article discusses the formation of Jewish prayers, which were composed during the early rabbinic period, following the dangers of the public baths. Sages from late antiquity published two prayers: Before entering to the bathhouse, the bather has to pray for his safety, and after leaving the bath-house he has to thank Gd for not having suffered harm. The dangers of the bathhouse were deemed to include: Weakness, fainting or dehydration due to the heat of the bathhouse; Legs injury of the bathers due to the heat of the warm floor; Dental damage; Sliding on the wet floor; Fear of death due to collapse of the hypocaust. Due to changes in the bath-house in the modern era; these prayers lost their relevance up to a point; or at any rate; they were no longer prescribed or recorded in practice. Bathhouse heaters were no longer located in the hypocaust; and were rather only located close to the wall of the upper room. Hence; falling into the hot lower space was irrelevant. Following the introduction of domestic baths; these prayers have completely vanished. View Full-Text
Keywords: ancient prayer; bath-house; Talmudic literature; hypocaust; caldarium; dangers of bath-house; Jewish halakha; Yehuda Hanassi; Tractate Derech Eretz; Kala Rabati ancient prayer; bath-house; Talmudic literature; hypocaust; caldarium; dangers of bath-house; Jewish halakha; Yehuda Hanassi; Tractate Derech Eretz; Kala Rabati
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Shemesh, A.O. “He Who Enters the Bath-House Utters Two Blessings”: On the Evolvement and Decline of an Ancient Jewish Prayer. Religions 2017, 8, 225.

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