Amnon of Mainz
or Amnon of Mayence
is the subject of a medieval
legend that became very popular. It treats of Rabbi
Amnon, a wealthy and respected Jew
, whom the Archbishop of Mainz
, at various times, tried to convert to Christianity
. On one occasion Amnon evasively asked to be given three days' time for consideration. When he failed to appear on the appointed day, the archbishop had him brought guarded into his presence. Amnon, rebuked for his failure to keep his promise, pleaded guilty, and said that his tongue should be amputated
, because it had expressed a doubt as to the truth of Judaism
. The archbishop, however, pronounced the sentence that Amnon's feet, which had refused to come, and his hands should be cut off. This was accordingly done.
Amnon gave orders that he be carried into the synagogue
, where Rosh Hashanah
was being celebrated. The reader was about to begin the Kedushah
, when he was asked by Amnon to wait. The latter then recited the prayer called, from its initial words, "U-netanneh Tokef
," which is a description of the Day of Judgment
. No sooner had he finished the prayer than he expired; and his body immediately disappeared. Three days later he appeared to Rabbi Kalonymus
in a dream, taught him the prayer, and asked him to spread it broadcast in Israel.
The oldest mention of this story seems to be found in the notes on Asheri, written by Israel of Krems
or Kremsier, about 1400.Rosh Hashanah i. § 4, in the Vilna
edition of the......