Comparison of Romany Law
with Israelite Law and Indo-Aryan Traditions
The Romany Law is the heart of the cultural and spiritual character of Roma people, and the actual source from which the true origins of this people are to be found. Here we present how all elements of Romany Law are in sharp contrast with Indo-Aryan culture and tradition, while in perfect harmony with the ancient Israelite Law and with pre-Talmudic Judaism. Since the supporters of the Indo-Aryan origin argue that these Laws may have been the result of Christian influence, here we show also a comparison with Christianity, considering the patterns of the Christian culture with which Roma have been in touch since their arrival in Europe until recent times. This means, a Christianity in which the Bible was not popular but restricted to the clergy, not written in the people's language but in Greek or Latin, and a Christianity in which any Jewish original element has been replaced by Greek conceptions and interpretations of the Bible. Roma had no way to know the Hebrew meaning of the Bible, nor the Mosaic precepts either, which were not known even by those people that used not to miss any church gathering. As a matter of fact, Christian influence has contributed in straying Romany culture away from Bible patterns rather than bringing them nearer. It is well known the fact that the first time in history that Roma approached the Scriptures (namely, in their known history) has been after the Shoah, when the majority of Roma have joined Evangelical and Messianic movements ‒ but the laws and traditions shown here belong to the ancestral Romany culture. In the same way, most of the differences between Romany Law and modern Judaism concern the fact that the definitive patterns of Judaism have been established in the Talmudic period, when part of the ancient Israelite Tribes were already in exile in India and no longer acknowledged as Hebrew. As a result of this separation (during the Assyrian exile, after the 8th century b.c.e.) some aspects of the Romany Law are even closer than modern Judaism to ancient Israelite patterns.
Another curious fact is that, while in modern times a relevant number of Jews feel attracted by Indian culture and philosophy, Roma feel not any attraction at all; Indian life-style and disciplines remain completely alien and unappealing to them.
For the readers who are Roma: Some of the terms and descriptions here are of an impure character and are not suitable for conversation, by which the author ask excuses, first to the elder Roma who deserve the maximum respect, and to all the Romany people. They are mentioned with scientific purposes (quoting also Bible verses that contain such terms), in order to establish a comparison and recognize the insurmountable differences between Romany culture and the Indo-Aryan peoples' traditions.
For a better comprehension, the laws and rules are gathered in the following sections: Religious Belief, Justice Laws, Sexual Behaviour, Marriage Rules, Childbirth, Death Rules, Afterlife, Purity and Impurity Rules, Miscellaneous Traditions and Customs.
"You shall have no other gods before Me".
Polytheism-pantheism, with a main deity and many lower ones.
* * *
"You shall not make any image of anything that is in the Heavens, or in the Earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor worship them".
There is not any traditional image or symbol of the Divinity, nor it is conceivable that God might be in any way portrayed. God cannot be represented by images. There are many representations of the divinities, as human, animals, male, female or androgynous.
(see also: "Sexual Behaviour")
The second commandment has been neglected by most of Christians; however, there is not any image of God, but of the saints (who are revered).
* * * * *
"You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain".
The Name of God is unknown.
The Name of God is not mentioned.
There are many different gods, and they are invoked by their names.
There is no reserve in using the Hebrew Name of God, although translated.
* * *
"Remember the day of Shabbat, to keep it holy. You shall labour six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to the Lord your God".
Some Roma still keep the seventh day as holy. Friday is called by the name of Parashat, and in the evening Roma use to light candles.
The seventh day of the week is kept holy. It begins on Friday evening, when Jews light candles. Parashat is read on this day (Shabath).
There is no such a custom among Indo-Aryan peoples. Monday is the holy day in Northern India.
Christians have hallowed Sunday, and have never taught to light candles to honour the Shabath.
* * *
"You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse a ruler of your people".
Blasphemy is a great sin among Roma, as well as cursing an elder.
Blasphemy and curse are sins, as written in Torah.
The concept of blasphemy does not exist at all.
Blasphemy is a sin, yet, it is not unusual among people.
* * * * *
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, that ha-Satan came also among them".
"And ha-Satan stood up against Israel".
"The children of Beliya'al have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying: «Let us go and serve other gods»".
Roma believe that there is one enemy of God (that is what Satan means in Hebrew), who is a fallen angel and less powerful than God, and is the enemy of Roma people. His name "Beng" is a word related with frog, that was a figure of the devil in the Jewish symbolism of the Roman period (see Revelation 16:13). This evil one is called also "bivuzhó" (impure) and "bilashó", a term that is equivalent to Belial.
The devil in traditional Judaism is quite the same one as the Beng described by the Romany belief. There is no concept of devil among Indo-Aryans. There are only harmful gods (the asura), but they are not thoroughly bad as well as the devas are not completely good. They are equivalent in power and dignity.
Among Iranians, the "principle of evil" resembles the Jewish-Romany devil in some aspects, but differs from it as Zoroastrism considers it equal in power to the "Good principle".
In Christianity, the devil has been conceived as having mixed biblical and mythological features, however, close to the Jewish and Romany belief.
(Job 1:6; 1Chronicles 21:1;
"You shall not make marriages with them [other peoples]; your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor his daughter shall you take to your son".
There are no social classes. The only sharp division exists between Roma and Gadje (non-Roma).
There are no social classes. The only sharp division exists between Jews and Goyim (non-Jews).
Indo-Aryan peoples have social castes that separate their own people. The legal system is founded on this division of society.
Only in democratic times the social classes have been theoretically abolished from a legal viewpoint. Ethnic intermarriage is free.
* * * * *
"Judges shall you make you in all your gates, according to your tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment".
The Romany Court is the Assembly (Kris), composed by Judges according to their clans (that are like Tribes).
The Jewish Court of Justice is the Sanhedrin, composed by Judges. The Tribes are no longer recognized.
The judicial system is regulated by the Dharma, and is based on the caste system.
The Judicial Court is an institution independent from confession and ethnicity.
* * * * *
"One from among your brothers shall you set ruler over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother".
Controversies among Roma cannot be judged by Gadje, but only by the Kris.
It is against Jewish Law to have a foreign ruler. The controversies are judged according to the Dharma, that establishes the caste separation.
The controversies are judged in civil courts, according to the national laws.
* * * * *
"You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike; you shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's".
The Kris must be impartial, without regard of the family or clan of the contenders. All Roma are equal before the Kris.
The Sanhedrin must be impartial, without regard of the family or social condition of the contenders.
The Indo-Aryan courts judge according to the caste to which the contenders belong.
The controversies are judged in civil courts, according to the national laws.
See also: Exodus 23:6-8; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; 16:19; 25:1 * * * * *
For the children of Israel, ... shall these cities be for refuge; that everyone who kills any person unwittingly may flee there. Then the congregation shall judge between the striker and the avenger of blood according to these ordinances. But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the border of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood find him ... and the avenger of blood kill the manslayer; he shall not be guilty of blood, because he should have remained in his city of refuge
If there is a serious offense committed by a Roma person or family, the Kris should judge if that person or family must leave the territory where the offended part lives or works. The "blood avenger" does still exist in Romany Law and may take legal action against the offender if he/she enters the territory in which he/she has been banished. Theoretically, Halakhic Law still admits the actual fulfilment of the Mosaic rule; however, the modern Jewish society applies softer, less violent measures. The Indo-Aryan courts judge according to the caste to which the contenders belong. There is no such a concept as blood avenger. Christianity has abolished the concept of blood avenger. There is no territorial banishment.
* * * * *
But as for you, only keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest when you have banished it, you take of the anathema; so would you make the camp of Israel accursed, and trouble it. There is an accursed thing in the midst of you, Israel; you can not stand before your enemies, until you take away the accursed thing from among you.
This law may be applied to things or people. Roma cannot have any kind of relationship with the banished person, not even greetings and must avoid cross their ways. The offenses by which a person may be banished are quite similar to those established by Jewish Law. The accursed is called "mahrimé", a word related with the Hebrew "herem" both by sound and meaning. This law may be applied to things or people. Jews cannot have any kind of relationship with the banished person, not even greetings and must avoid cross their ways. The offenses by which a person may be banished are quite similar to those established by Romany Law. The accursed is called "herem". In Indo-Aryan social system the Dalit (untouchables) are excluded because they are outcasts, not for having committed any particular offense. There is not any regulated social exclusion in Christianity.
* * * * *
"If you lend money to any of my people, you shall not be to him as a creditor; neither shall you charge him interest"; "You shall not lend on interest to your brother: to a foreigner you may lend on interest; but to your brother you shall not lend on interest".
Roma cannot ask interest for loans from their own people, but can do so from Gadje. Jews should not ask interest for loans from their own people, but can do so from Goyim. Only the upper castes may not lend at interest, but they can do so if they consider that there are valid reasons, and towards people they regard mean and sinful. Like among Indo-Aryans, the clergymen were not allowed to lend at interest, activity that was performed by the bankers. Now loans are regulated by civil law.
"Shem and Yefet took a garment, and laid it on both their shoulders, went in backwards, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were backwards, and they didn't see their father's nakedness".
Nakedness is taboo among Roma, allowed only within husband and wife, and among children. Even to show one's legs before an elder is a lack of respect.
Images of sexual organs or erotic scenes are banished within the Romany home.
Nakedness is taboo in mainstream Judaism, reserved only to the intimacy between husband and wife.
Nakedness, even public, has been very common among Indo-Aryan peoples in ancient times. In India it is still considered a sacred thing and widely practised. Christianity has usually regarded nakedness as taboo.
* * * * *
"Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it".
Among Roma, any association of holiness with nudity and sex is considered blasphemy. The Kohanim and Levites must be extremely careful not to let see any intimate part of the body when offering the worship. Indian temples are plenty of representations of sexual organs and deities having sexual intercourse. Christianity considers nakedness to be unholy, though artistic nudes are admitted in paintings and sculptures.
* * * * *
"You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is abominable... for whoever shall do any of these abominations shall be cut off from among their people".
"If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination".
"There shall be no sodomite of the sons of Israel".
Roma consider homosexuality a shameful abomination and it is quite a rarity.
It entails the definitive exclusion of the individual from the Romany community
(in the past there was death penalty, then replaced by the declaration of impurity and expulsion).
Mainstream Judaism regards homosexuality as an abominable sin. Homosexuality has been common among Indo-Aryan peoples since ancient times. The Vedic law recognizes it as a "third nature" of mankind (tritiya-prakriti). Even many of the Indian gods are androgynous, or able to change sex in order to have intercourse! The "transgendered" men (hijra) have official religious status. Mainstream Christianity considers homosexuality to be a sin, following the Bible patterns.
(Leviticus 18:22,29; 20:13;
* * * * *
"A woman shall not wear men's clothing, neither shall a man put on women's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God".
Connected with the previous issue, among Roma it is not allowed to wear clothes of the opposite gender, even to disguise for joking. Orthodox Judaism is very strict in keeping male and female garments distinguishable and not allowed to be worn by the opposite sex. Although clothing of men and women are different among Indo-Aryans, there is not a strict prohibition. Different branches of Christianity have more or less restrictive or permissive opinions concerning this issue.
* * * * *
"Whoever has sex with an animal shall surely be put to death".
"You shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal, to lie down with it: it is a perversion".
"If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal, and lies down with it, you shall kill the woman, and the animal: they shall surely be put to death".
Zoophilia is such a revolting and despicable practise that has never been heard to have happened among Roma, and even talking about such a thing is offensive. Zoophilia is strongly condemned by all schools of Judaism, without any objection. Zoophilia is a common issue among Indo-Aryans. Such a perverted relationship is not as punishable as having sex with outcastes! [Visnusmrti 5:40-44] Some temples in India (Khajuraho) are depicted with such themes! Indian sages boast to be born from animals; queens and even the Aryan gods indulged in zoophilia. [Manusmrti 10:69-72; Mahabharata Adiparvan 95; Ramayana 1:13:24.33; etc.] Zoophilia is strongly condemned by all Christian religions and branches.
Leviticus 18:23; 20:15-16)
* * * * *
"Do not profane your daughter, to make her a prostitute; lest the land fall to prostitution, and the land become full of wickedness".
Virginity before marriage is essential in Romany culture, and prostitution is strongly condemned. Roma parents would never consent in profaning their daughters. Virginity before marriage is required in Judaism, according to the biblical principle. Sacred prostitution has always been common among Indo-Aryans. [Matsya Purana 70:40-60; Mahabharata III:2:23]
It is usual among some Indian tribes to sell the daughters for prostitution.
Even though virginity is not always required, prostitution is not approved.
* * * * *
"None of you shall approach anyone who are his close relatives, to uncover their nakedness".
Complete list of forbidden incest relationships: Leviticus 18:7-17; 20:11-21.
Among Roma incest is forbidden. The relationships considered to be incestuous are exactly the same listed in the Mosaic Law, with the same exceptions, namely: it is incest any relationship with ancestors or descendants and with their spouses and siblings, with one's siblings and step-siblings, and with one's in-laws; while it is legal to marry cousins. Judaism forbids the relationships listed in the Mosaic Law, and allows marriage between cousins as it is not listed and is legal. Incest has always been very common among Indo-Aryans, and also their gods had sexual intercourse with their sisters or daughters, which is a tacit religious approval of such relationships. All kinds of incest are still very usual among Hindus. Christianity forbids the same relationships that are illegal for Jews and Roma, but having a controversy about allowing marriage between cousins. Marriage Rules Marriage is an obligation. A man without a wife is incomplete, as well as a woman without husband. Members of the Kris must be married. Elder married women may be also Kris members. Marriage is an obligation. A man without a wife is incomplete, as well as a woman without husband. Members of the Sanhedrin must be married (though only men). The woman is a belonging of her husband and has no real rights within the family. Women cannot have authority roles. Marriage is a recommended condition but not an obligation. Unmarried people may take part at the authority institutions. * * * * *
"Yakov served seven years for Rachel. Yakov said to Lavan «Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled»".
"Thus shall you tell David, «The king desires no dowry except one hundred foreskins of the Pelishtim»".
Romany Law establishes that the groom's family pays a dowry to the bride's family. The dowry for a widow or divorced woman amounts to a half of the dowry for a virgin. In origin, Judaism followed the scriptural patterns: The laws of the Sages established a payment by the groom (for a divorcee or widow half of the amount paid for a virgin) but said nothing about a dowry from the bride's family. Among Indo-Aryans, it is the bride's family that should pay a dowry to the groom's family. This practise was common to all Indo-European peoples, without exception. Being the largest number of Christians of Indo-European culture, in the past it was the bride's family that used to pay a dowry to the husband's. Today such a custom is almost no longer practised.
* * * * *
"If a man entices a virgin who is not pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins".
According to Romany Law, when a man has dishonored a woman, he should anyway pay the dowry to her family. Runaway couples are considered legitimately married. Judaism applies the Bible pattern if such an event still occurs. There is no compensation for the virgin's honour. In Christianity, runaway couples are not accepted as legally married.
* * * * *
"«You shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Goyim. You shall go to my country, and to Nachor my brother, and take a wife for my son Yitzchak»".
"Yitzchak called Yakov and said: «You shall not take a wife of the daughters of the Goyim. Go to the house of Betuel your mother's father. Take a wife from there from the daughters of Lavan, your mother's brother»".
"Every daughter of the children of Israel shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father".
Marriage among Roma is endogamic, within members of the same clan (group of families descending from a common progenitor who is usually recognizable within few generations). This is not a rigid rule, but still observed by the large majority of Roma. The Tribes of Israel are no longer recognizable, except Levites and the Kohanim, who are bond to endogamic marriage laws. Among Indo-Aryans marriage is rigorously exogamic. Although it must occur within the same caste, it is forbidden within the same tribe or clan - a paradoxical rule, considering the fact that incest is widely tolerated. Among Christians, the overwhelming majority of marriages are exogamic.
(Genesis 24:3-4; 28:1-2
* * * * *
"Then shall the father of the young lady, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the young lady's virginity to the elders".
It is a rule that the tokens of virginity are shown to the assembly after the wedding. It is an old Jewish custom to present the proofs of virginity. There is no record of such a custom among Indo-Aryans. This custom is not practised by Christians.
* * * * *
"When a man takes a wife, and marries her, then he write her a bill of divorce, and send her out of his house. When she is departed, she may go and be another man's wife. If the latter husband write her a bill of divorce, and send her out of his house, or if the latter husband die; her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination".
Divorce is admitted in Romany society. It happens when the husband sends his wife out or else she goes away. Both can remarry. The wife cannot come back to her former husband again once she was married to another man. Judaism admits divorce according to the same biblic patterns. Divorce is not admitted among Indians. However, if it happens, there is no regulation that forbids the wife to return back to her former husband once she was married to another. Christianity is divided on this issue. Most Christians formally consider that divorced people cannot remarry, others admit remarriage.
* * * * *
"If brothers dwell together, and one of them die, and have no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside to a stranger: her husband's brother shall take her to him as wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. It shall be, that the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother who is dead, that his name not be blotted out of Israel".
The law of levirate has been practised by Roma in the past. The definitive adoption of monogamy has rendered this rule hard to fulfil, as the brother of the dead husband is supposed to be still unmarried. However, alternative solutions have been framed to supply a descent to the childless couples. The law of levirate has been practised by Jews in the past. As well as it happened with Roma, it was the consolidation of monogamy that has caused this rule to be no longer practicable in most cases. Levirate existed among some Indo-Scythian groups; however, the brother of the dead husband had to marry another woman before the widow could marry him (another paradox, as the Indian family is monogamic! - the very reason that caused levirate to be vain among Roma is a requirement among Indians to render it valid). Levirate has never been taught to Christians, and if some peoples practised it, it was for their own cultural tradition.
"If a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her monthly period she shall be unclean. She shall continue in the blood of purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any holy thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, [the period of purification is twice as long] ".
Childbirth is impure and must occur outside Roma's dwelling place. Then, the mother is isolated with her child for seven days, followed by thirty-three days of less rigorous isolation. She cannot show herself in public unless she is called, she cannot attend religious services nor get in touch with any clean thing used by other people. The only difference with Mosaic Law is that the forty-day period of purification is the same for male or female child. Childbirth is impure and the mother is "niddah" for seven days if the child is male or fourteen days if the child is female. The additional thirty-three or sixty-six days observed during the Temple period have little application today, as they are related with the sacrificial system. Among Indians, childbirth conveys relative impurity for the mother, that stands aloof during ten days, being relieved of daily activities. Sometimes this period is extended to twelve days, but there is no record of any Indo-Aryan people keeping seven days plus thirty-three days. Christians have not any rule concerning impurity after childbirth, obviously a period of rest is kept by the mother as a biological need.
Death Rules "Until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return".
Romany Law establishes that the dead must be buried with all the completeness of the body. Consequently, organs cannot be removed and autopsy must be avoided. To burn the dead is a great sacrilege. Judaism establishes that the dead must be buried with all the completeness of the body. Consequently, organs cannot be removed and autopsy must be avoided. To burn the dead is a great sacrilege. All Indo-Aryan peoples burned the dead (except Zoroastrians, that do not bury them either), and Indians still do so. The ashes are then spread in the river. Organ removal is allowed for donation. Christianity establishes that the dead should be buried. Organ removal for donation is generally accepted, as well as autopsy. * * * * *
"He who touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days: the same shall purify himself therewith on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he doesn't purify himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Whoever touches a dead person, the body of a man who has died, and doesn't purify himself, defiles the tent of the Lord: because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet on him".
Death is impure, and all the close relatives of the dead are impure for seven days. The dead cannot be touched. During three days it is forbidden for them to bathe, comb, cut their nails or make themselves tidy (they can only use clean water to wash themselves, no soap). On the third day, they must wash themselves thoroughly and arrange their aspect, otherwise, they cannot do so until the seventh day. Death is impure, and all the close relatives of the dead are impure for seven days. The dead cannot be touched. The mourners cannot bathe, comb, cut their nails or make themselves tidy. This period is called shiva. Death conveys impurity to the dead's family for at least ten days, according to the caste they belong. It must be admitted that besides the difference in the number of days, the rules of mritakam (mourning period) are similar to those of Jewish shiva and Romany mourning. Christians do not have the concept of ritual impurity, and there are no special rules for the mourning period.
* * * * *
"This is the law when a man dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent, and everyone who is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. Every open vessel, which has no covering bound on it, is unclean. For the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the sin offering; and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: and a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent, and on all the vessels, and on the persons who were there, and on him who touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave: and the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify him; and he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even".
When death happened in Roma's dwelling place, all the food present in the house (in reference to "every open vessel") is defiled and should be thrown away. On the third day, the house is purified by burning incense (in reference to "the ashes of the burning of the sin"), and a virgin (clean person) sprinkles running water. This ceremony is repeated on the seventh day. Food is brought to the mourners by relatives or friends from another dwelling place. Since the sacrificial system is related with the Temple, the rules connected with it are not obligatory, consequently, the purification on the third day is not accomplished. Relatives and friends have to bring meals to the house where shiva is kept. During the ten-day mourning period, friends and relatives bring meals to the mourning family. As they burn the body of the dead, they sprinkle water on the ashes. The house is purified on the eleventh day with a religious ceremony. Christian mourning customs vary according to the church or denomination, and cultural traditions. No Mosaic rules are observed.
* * * * * Mourning period customs: mourners stay at home, sit on low stools, cover the mirrors, do not use oils, perfumes or any kind of cosmetics, do not wear new clothes, do not listen to music, nor take photographs, nor watch television, do not paint, cannot cook and cannot greet people. Mourning period customs: mourners stay at home, sit on low stools, cover the mirrors, do not use oils, perfumes or any kind of cosmetics, do not wear new clothes, do not listen to music, nor take photographs, nor watch television, do not paint, cannot cook and cannot greet people. Mourning period customs: mourners stay at home, sit on the floor, avoid looking on the mirror, do not use items for personal adornment nor wear garish clothes, do not watch television, cannot give or receive gifts, nor participate in public activities. The first seven-day period is closed with a remembrance ceremony, then mourning is extended until the thirtieth day; they may bathe and comb, but not cut their hair or nails, nor listen to music or watch television, and must not wear new clothes. On the thirtieth day, mourners should celebrate a remembrance to close the strict mourning period. After the end of shiva, mourners keep sheloshim until the thirtieth day; during this period they may leave the home, wear shoes and bathe, but not cut their hair or nails, nor listen to music or watch television, and must not wear new clothes. On the thirtieth day, mourners should go to the gravesite and place a stone on top of the grave marker. A memorial service is held on the thirty-first day, or the eleventh day after the dead body was burnt. There are various rituals, among which the offering of pinda (rice balls). Afterlife "For to him who is with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun".
"But now he is dead, can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me".
Romany belief is that death is definitive and that there is no return. The idea of transmigration of the soul is absolutely unconceivable and even repulsive. The soul goes to definitive dwelling after death, either Paradise (Roma, unless they have been declared impure, and righteous Gadje), or damnation. Jewish belief is that death is definitive and that there is no return. The idea of transmigration of the soul belongs to some Kabbalistic branches, but is not based on the Bible. The soul goes to definitive dwelling after death, either Paradise (Jews, unless they have been wicked, and righteous Goyim), or damnation. All Indo-Aryan peoples believed in reincarnation, and Indians still do. They think that the soul takes another body, either human or animal. Christian belief is that the soul goes to judgement after death.
Purity and Impurity Rules
"You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean".
Romany patterns of purity and impurity are called "marimé", and are close to Mosaic rules. (see: marimé) Jewisn patterns of purity and impurity are known as "kashrut", regulated not only by Mosaic rules but also by Rabbinic institutions. Indo-Aryans do also distinguish between ritual purity and impurity, but their patterns differ from those of Jews and Roma. Christians do not recognize ritual impurity (groups that do so are labeled as "Judaizers").
* * * * *
"Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When any man has an issue from his body, because of his issue he is unclean... every bed whereon he lies shall be unclean; and everything he sits on shall be unclean... whatever saddle he rides on shall be unclean... whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean... If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall bathe... If a woman has an issue, and her issue in her flesh is blood, she shall be in her impurity... everything that she lies on in her impurity shall be unclean; everything that she sits on shall be unclean... whoever touches her bed or anything whereon she sits shall be unclean..."
Romany rules of human impurity are based on the Mosaic Law. In fact, emissions of substances from the lower body are impure, and whatever gets in touch with them. Consequently, since such emissions are likely to happen when sleeping, the act of sleeping is regarded as impure, and also the beds, as well as the seats and the garments that cover the lower body. When Roma wake up, the first thing to do is to wash oneself (Roma do not greet anybody until they have not washed themselves after having slept, as being still impure it is a lack of respect). Emissions from the mouth and the upper body are pure. Modern Judaism emphasizes the character of impurity of semen and menstruation, that require purification, which is performed through mikveh (ritual bath). Other emissions are of less importance; anyway, the first thing a Jew must do after waking up from sleeping is to wash his/her hands. Among Indians there is also the distinction between pure and impure body parts and issues, but according to different patterns: for example they regard impure several pertinences of the upper body like hair, tears, substances issued by ears, nose and mouth, and even eating! (but cow's dung and urine are pure...).
"If one issues semen, whether it is a little or a lot, in sleep or while awake, he should touch it and should take the semen with his thumb and ring finger and rub it between his breasts or brows..." (Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 6:4:4-6).
Further comments on the purity patterns for Indo-Aryans are superfluous.
There are no ceremonies of purification among Christians. * * * * *
"You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean: and you shall not make yourselves abominable by animal, or by bird, or by anything with which the ground teems, which I have separated from you as unclean for you". "Notwithstanding, you may kill and eat flesh within all your gates, after all the desire of your soul, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you: the unclean and the clean may eat of it; only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth as water".
Roma consider that animals are either pure or impure, although their classification is different from the Jewish one (Written Torah was lost by the Lost Tribes). However, they have tried to keep this observance by logical patterns: for instance, dogs and cats are marimé because they lick themselves; horses, donkeys and any animal used for riding is impure because people sit on them; animals that eat flesh are impure, and so on. Impure animals cannot be eaten. Most Roma still reject meat which is not bloodless. Roma are quite fond of meat, mainly beef, and there are no drinking restrictions. Kashrut in Judaism is a distinctive sign, and the classification of those animals that may be eaten and those that cannot be eaten is still known thanks to the existence of the Written Torah. By tradition, Indians do not eat any kind of flesh, including fish, but those that do eat, try to avoid beef. Consequently, the ideal diet is vegetarian. They consider wine and alcoholic beverages to be impure, and many of them also avoid tea and coffee. Most Christians do not follow dietary rules (connected with religious precepts).
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"You shall have a place also outside of the camp, where you shall go forth abroad".
Among Roma, the camp is pure, by which the physiological needs must take place outside the dwelling place. In modern houses, the rest room has a separate status and is built outside, when possible. In Judaism, the rest room is the only one in the house that has a separate status, and no mezuzah is placed on its entrance. Among Indo-Aryans, there was not any separate place for one's physiological needs, as there is not a "public domain outside". Among Christians, the rest room has to do with privacy, but not with impurity. Miscellaneous Traditions and Customs
"I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and every woman shall ask of her neighbor jewels of silver, jewels of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons, and on your daughters. You shall despoil the Egyptians. The children of Israel did according to the word of Moshe; and they asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and clothing. The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. They despoiled the Egyptians".
Romany tradition explains that the custom of "mangel" (asking items from Gadje) comes from an ancient commandment from God. There is not any other source from which such a particular precept might be found except the Bible verses reported here. Beyond the fact that one may be a believer or not, Roma almost always achieve in finding "favor" from Gadje to obtain what they ask for... As it is an event considered to be unique in history, for a determinate purpose, such custom is not practised in Judaism. There is not any reference among Indo-Aryan peoples having such a tradition. Christianity does not encourage such kind of activity.
(Exodus 3:21,22; 12:35-36)
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"They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses... For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel, and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you".
Roma used to paint the doorposts of their shelters (or the main posts of the tents) with animal blood in some special occasions, or when going out for a trip, as a protective sign to ban the entrance to the "angel of death". As it is an event considered to be unique in history, for a determinate purpose, such custom is not practised in Judaism. There is not any reference among Indo-Aryan peoples of any similar event or tradition. There is not such a tradition among Christians.
* * * * *
"It happened at the time of the offering of the evening, that Eliyahu the Prophet came near, and said, Lord, the God of Avraham, of Yitzchak, and of Yisra'el,... Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench".
"It happened, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both apart; and Eliyahu went up by a whirlwind into heaven".
Roma are particularly sensitive towards lightning and thunder. When these natural phenomena arise, they invoke Prophet Elijah to calm the storm. Prophet Elijah indeed, is recognized as the one who has dominion over Baal (that was the god of thunderbolt, whom Elijah defeated with God's lightning that set fire to the altar). Elijah was also taken to heaven by a fire whirlwind. This Bible story has no parallel in any tradition. Elijah in Judaism is known as the "Prophet of fire", because of his connection with lighning and fire in many occasions during his life. Among Indo-Aryans, the thunderbolt is an attribute of Indra, that corresponds to the Canaanite Baal - exactly the opposite to Prophet Elijah! Even though Elijah is a Bible character, he is not usually taught in churches and is not associated with fire or lightning among Christians.
* * * * *
"You shall give the firstborn of your sons to Me".
Roma consider the firstborn son to be a special blessing for the family. The firstborn son is regarded as a special blessing for the couple in Judaism.
There is not such a special status for the firstborn son among Indians.
Some Christians consider the firstborn son a special blessing.
* * * * *
"You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard".
Most Roma are still recognizable by their sideburns, which they keep as a tradition originated in a commandment. Orthodox Jews let their sidelocks of hair grow ("pe'ot") in observance of this commandment. There is no such a tradition among Indo-Aryans. There is no such a tradition among Christians.
* * * * *
"A wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left".
Among Roma, the left hand is related with the public domain, the realm of the Gadje, and by this reason is connected with impurity, although both hands are transitional and need purification every time they have to fulfil impure needs.
In Judaism, the left hand is related with the public domain (reshut ha-rabim), the realm of the Goyim, and symbolizes impurity and alienation from God.
Among Indo-Aryans, the left hand is considered impure. However, it is not related with public domain or the others' realm. Among Christians the difference between right and left is not connected with purity, but rather with good and evil. * * * * *
"You shall not eat of anything that dies of itself: you may give it to the foreigner living among you who is within your gates, that he may eat it; or you may sell it to a foreigner: for you are a holy people".
Roma cannot eat animals that had not been killed with that purpose. Even though hospitality rules require that impure food (like an animal died of itself) will not be offered to Gadje either, the application of this rule is expressed by the separation of dishes and cups that are arranged to offer food and drink to Gadje. No Jew would offer an animal died of itself to Goyim, as this Bible rule was intended for peoples that had such a custom; however, non kosher food may be given to non-Jews, if it is acceptable for them. By tradition, Indians do not eat any kind of flesh because they cannot kill animals, however, some of them accept eating those animals that died by natural causes. Christians cannot eat animals that had not been killed. * * * * *
"You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people".
Slander is considered a very serious fault among Roma. The offender may be taken into judgment by the Kris. Although slander is generally condemned in every culture, the Romany concept is identical with lashon ha-ra'a in Judaism. Slander is commonly known as lashon ha-ra'a in Judaism, and is a very serious offense that can be hardly forgiven. Slander is considered a wrongdoing, mainly against religious values. Slander is condemned, but not with the emphasis as it is in Romany and Jewish Law. * * * * *
"For these nations, that you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice sorcery, and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do".
"Yosef said to them, «What deed is this that you have done? Do not you know that such a man as I can indeed divine?»".
Contrary to popular belief, Roma do not believe in divination, but they use this practice for the Gadje that do listen to them! Roma indeed do not "listen to diviners", but consider this as a kind of prophetic gift they have to deal with Gadje. The kind of divination that Roma know is based on Tarot and Kabbalah, while they have no idea of Indian fortune-telling methods. Even though it was forbidden, divination was practised in ancient Israel, mainly in the Tribes that were deported to Assyria, Media and India. Jewish magics have been derived mainly from Kabbalah. Tarot is very likely of Jewish origin, probably related to the theraphim and with the Hebrew alephbet. Ancient Indo-Aryans were quite superstitious and even today most of Indians are among those that listen to soothsayers and diviners. There are many sorcery schools and disciplines, based on patterns quite different from those known by Roma. Christians must not listen to diviners, however, fortune-telling has always found clients among them.
The facts exposed in this comparison table are not all; many other details are still to be mentioned as further evidences that confirm beyond any doubt the true origin of Roma. It is natural that an exiled people acquires some elements from the dominant culture within which is dwelling, even more when such sojourn endures for centuries. However, almost nothing of the Indian character (if anything at all) has been adopted by Roma during a stay that may have lasted five to fifteen centuries. Romany language is the only element that connects Roma with their past exile in India. A shorter period of sojourn in Spain has been enough for Kalé Roma to adopt Spanish language as their own, as well as most Hungarian Roma speak Magyar instead of Romany, and many other groups (actually, more than half Roma do not know Romany language), but they are anyway genuine Roma ‒ obviously, what makes them to be Roma is not their language, but their culture, and as it has been shown, nothing of Romany culture may be ascribed to an Indo-Aryan origin. Roma usually have a Gypsy name besides their civil name; in spite of the Indic background of Romany language, there is not a single Romany name that may be traced to India! Not even in the oldest documents reporting their arrival in Europe. In fact, they already had Bible names in that time. A large number of Romany names are Hebrew, others are Greek, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Persian, which is understandable as such names were taken from the countries where they dwelled... but where did they learn the Hebrew names? Most of these names are not common among Europeans.
Another not negligible fact has to do with the regrettable practice of bullfighting: many of the famous toreros are Roma, as such a tradition does not contrast with the main patterns of Romany culture ‒ on the contrary, Roma would never kill a horse! The ritual of bull sacrifice was Israelite (Numbers 15:8; Judges 6:25-26; 2Samuel 6:13; Job 42:8; etc.), and the bull was also the emblem that Israelites chose to represent God (Exodus 32:4), later reintroduced by the separated Kingdom of Israel (1Kings 12:28). Bullfighting was practised by some Mithraist peoples of the Middle East, but never in India, and some elements in Romany tradition may be traced back to a sojourn in Persia before they reached India (because these elements are of Zoroastrian influence, not Islamic). Even though Indians do not kill animals, ancient Indo-Aryans and the Scythians of India practised horse sacrifice, but never any bovine was slaughtered! Roma's favourite food is beef, but they would never eat horse or kill one; Indo-Aryans would never kill a bovine, but in ancient times, they slaughtered horses...
Details like these abound. It is also an undeniable fact that Roma have never felt any kind of attraction for India, and that they have not been interested in going there until they were told that they came from that land. Yet, Roma do not feel at home in a country having such a different and contrasting character.
Honest scholars should review their theories before insisting in what is untenable and incoherent. Instead of stopping their research at a certain point in history, they should go further back with the historic events to ancient times, research about the peoples that arrived in India from the Middle East, why they settled there and how they lived there ‒ being a land where they found no persecution, it is natural that Roma established there until the situation was no longer good, in the same way as today many Roma settled in the United States or Brazil and it is very unlikely that they will leave those countries unless the situation turns negative and threatening for their survival.