The Pious Poisoner

We have previously seen various cases in the Halachic literature of wives poisoning their husbands; I recently came across this dramatic tale, out of the eighteenth century Ottoman Empire (translated from the original in Spanish, from “Barbaria”): שאלה מארץ ישמעאל. משרת יהודי אחד העיד שהיה בעיר פלונית ושמה היו יושבים שלשה תפוסים ונהרגו שנים על […]

Potions, Philtres and Poisons

This one is straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: A man lay bedridden for a long period, prostrated by a mysterious illness that baffled his doctors’ attempts at diagnosis and treatment. Eventually, a laundress disclosed that the man’s wife was plying him with sorcerous potions, made from a certain stone. When the stone was indeed […]

Murder, Foul and Not So Foul

Daniel J. Kevles tells us that poison has been a historically popular means of murder for women1: Whether or not Lucrezia Borgia used poison, the weapon was a great equalizer. Murder required administering a poison in repeated or large doses, tasks that women could conveniently perform since they were trusted with the preparation of food […]