A Yeroham rabbi is quoted as denouncing this act of agression, meant to scare the inhabitants of Yeroham, and also declared that it reflected a tradition foreign to Judaism.
The writing on the plate was clearly meant to be apotropaic - the recurring supplication is "refu'ah guf, refu'ah nefesh", healing for the body, healing for the soul. The aggression the rabbi was alluding to probably had more to do with local politics than it did with the content of the plate.
Jews have been producing magic bowls for centuries. And their purpose was usually benign, achieved by invoking holy or angelic names, or biblical and mythical motifs. In one case (a bowl that has not yet been published), a mishnah provides the magic. But this praxis, found throughout the Middle East in Late Antiquity, changed character in Muslim society. There it became associated with a different kind of magic, one of power channeled into the body . The bowl or plate would be filled with water and then swallowed by the person who was supposed to benefit from the magic. It is this tradition which was behind the magic plate of Yeroham. And Harari will explore it more in his next installment.