Yesterday’s daf brought down the mishnah in Shabbat 78b:
With regard to the measure that determines liability for carrying out lime on Shabbat from a private to a public domain, Rabbi Yehuda says: The measure is equivalent to that which is used to spread on one’s kilkul. And Rav said: This is referring to the hair that grows on the areas beneath the temple.
This got me thinking about hair remedies. Lime is calcium oxide and I’m sure it has various health benefits on the scalp; a little google brought up, among other things, that it severs the sulfur bonds in hair follicles and makes hair straighter.
Fair enough, but is that what Jews were using it for?
The quoted masechta:
Rabbi Yehuda says: Equivalent to that which is used to spread on the hair that grows over the temple so that it will lie flat. Rabbi Neḥemya says: Equivalent to that which is used to spread on the temple to remove fine hairs.
R. Nechemya says it’s a depilatory (presumably all over the body). Lime is very alkaline and google brings up articles about hair loss following topical lime treatments.
R. Yehuda says כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת כִּלְכּוּל
In English the temples are the sides of the front hair, between the ears and the forehead, roughly. Sefaria translates both terms that way; does either Hebrew phrasing match the english definition? צִידְעָא doesn’t have a definition online that I can find; the Klein Dictionary translates as, inter alia, “short hair on the temples.”
If the english translation is roughly accurate, it’s very interesting that Jews – presumably naturally curly-haired, in talmudic times – were straightening the sides of their forehead, and not elsewhere.
Was it men, who habitually wore their hair short enough that curly hair on the temples, you’d think, wouldn’t be an impediment to vision?
Women, maybe so wigs or sheitels would stay on better?
Was it done for beauty? Function? Does anyone have any insights?