Decorating my Tomb

13 12 2011

At some time this morning, my blog finally reached 100,000 views! It’s the little things in life.

Well, what better way to usher in the new centumillennium than by inventing a word (thank you, yes) and by remarking on the current state of the five bookshelves in my bedroom. But first:

A Disclaimer.

I have been warned, by one whose opinion means much to me, that the following blog post is “incredibly boring”, and also that “nobody cares”. While a cataloguing of my books might have value for any future insurance claim, does it need to be published? A cogent critique! And yet, being the pedant that I am, I am going to publish it anyway. Feel free to simply look at the pretty pictures, skip to the Old and Rare Books section near the end, or else skip the whole thing altogether and wonder why you let yourself contribute to my slowly growing view count.

Excepting the volumes on my desk (a mini-Shas and several journals: NAPH, JBL, Tradition, Hakirah, etc), the following are the five shelves in my bedroom:

This is bookshelf #1. It might not look like much, but it does fit snugly into its little niche. This is the first of my two academia shelves, and sorted only by the author’s last name. Included here are books that deal with biblical studies, Qumranic literature, rabbinic literature and Jewish history. Books are arranged from right to left and include the ABD, two volumes of the IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament (“Pentateuch” and “Historical Books”), David Biale’s (ed.) Cultures of the Jews, four volumes of the “Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum” series (Mikra, Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period, and Parts 1 and 2 of The Literature of the Sages), twelve volumes of The International Critical Commentary (Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah 1-27, Ezekiel, Amos and Hosea, Job, Daniel and Chronicles), and all four volumes of Menachem Elon’s Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles.

Books on this shelf that either changed my life, my course of study or my mind include:

• Gedaliah Alon’s The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age,

• Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative,

• Shaye Cohen’s The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties,

• Noah Efron’s Real Jews: Secular vs. Ultra-Orthodox and the Struggle for Jewish Identity in Israel,

• Michael Fishbane’s Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel,

• Theodore Gaster’s Thespis, and

• Norman Gottwald’s The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction.

This is bookshelf #2: the second of my two academic shelves. From the fourth shelf down is material pertaining to the Hebrew language: Biblical, Rabbinic and, in one instance, Israeli (Ghil’ad Zuckermann’s Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew). In addition to other works of scholarship on Hebrew, I have a total of twelve grammars (Arnold and Choi, A. Davidson, B. Davidson, Gesenius, Joüon and Muraoka, Lambdin, Segal, Sperber, Spinoza, van der Merwe, Waltke and O’Connor, Weingreen and Williams).

After Hebrew, things are a bit of a mess. I have books (grammars, dictionaries, other scholarship) concerning Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Greek, Latin, Yiddish, Akkadian, Arabic, Ge’ez and Ugaritic, followed by a few works that deal with comparative Semitics. Between Syriac and Coptic, however, lie all of my linguistics and literary critical books. The shelf is pretty tight, and in order to make room for newcomers, I have been moving unwanted literary critical texts to one of the shelves in my living room, together with material pertaining to modern European languages. When I run out of space for new books, I’ll just have to get a bigger house.

Books on this shelf that have changed my life, my course of study or my mind include:

• Gary Knoppers and Bernard Levinson’s (eds.) The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding its Promulgation and Acceptance,

• Allan Nadler’s The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture,

• Donald Redford’s Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times,

• Jeffrey Rubenstein’s Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture,

• Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism,

• Marc Shapiro’s Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters,

• Baruch Spinoza’s Theological-Political Tractate,

• Meir Sternberg’s The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading,

• Isaiah Tishby’s The Wisdom of the Zohar, and

• Emanuel Tov’s Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

While I imagine that he would not like to know it, I’ve a huge debt of gratitude to Prof. Lawrence Schiffman, whose From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple & Rabbinic Judaism did wonders in getting me out of yeshiva.

Favourite linguistic or grammatical works include Sue Groom’s Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew, Paul Joüon and Takamitsu Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, and Peter Cotterell and Max Turner’s Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation. Most formative in this area, however, would be Bruce Waltke and M. O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax and, of course, Kautzsch and Cowley’s Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar.

These are bookshelves #3 and 4. I couldn’t get a clear shot from the other side, which is the first of my three primary literature shelves. That one (the inverse of the side that you can see) contains material relating to the Hebrew Bible and to the period of the second temple. On the top shelf is my Miqra’ot Gedolot, to be followed by a Tiqqun Qor’im, a set of Torat Hayyim, a BHS, witnesses to the Hebrew Bible (MT, SP, LXX, Peshitta, Vulgate, Saadiah’s Arabic translation and some Coptic mss), a facsimile of the Geneva Bible, the KJV, RSV and NRSV, the Jerusalem Bible, Martínez and Tigchelaar’s Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, two editions of Ben Sirach (one, the official publication with plates; the other, a critical edition), Josephus, Philo, and critical editions of the Nag Hammadi library, the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. After that, I have a concordance (Even-Shoshan), an English Mishna (Danby), the BDB, HALOT, Jastrow, an excellent index of the rabbinic literature (arranged by scriptural source) and – because I like to “cheat” – both Kehati’s and Albeck’s commentaries on the Mishna, as well as Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Hebrew translation of the Babylonian Talmud. Next to that set is Frank’s grammar on Babylonian Talmudic Aramaic, and I have found that by assiduously avoiding everything he has to say about Biblical Hebrew (a waw that “converts the tense”! Indeed!), I have so far avoided throwing it at my wall.

On the side that you can see in the picture, I have my primary rabbinic literature: midrash, parshanut, chassidut and philosophy. From the top right, there’s the Etz Hayyim in four volumes, after which is all of my midrash aggadah: Midrash Rabbah, Midrash Tehillim (“Shocher Tov”), Yalqut Shim’oni, Midrash Tanchuma, Leqach Tov, Pirqei deRebi Eliezer, Pesiqta deRav Qahana, Pesiqta Rabbati, Seder ‘Olam Rabbah, Seder ‘Olam Zuta, Tana deVei Eliyahu and Sekhel Tov. After that is an English translation of Bialik and Ravnitzky’s Sefer haAggadah, and then all of my parshanut. That includes Mishnat haRosh (a compendium of Rabbeinu Asher‘s observations on the parsha, culled from his writings and the writings of his son), Gur Aryeh (the Maharal‘s 16th c. super-commentary on Rashi), the Meshekh Chokhmah of Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (the “‘Or Sameach”), seven homiletic commentaries of Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschütz (Tiferet Yehonatan, Chasdei Yehonatan, Ahavat Yehonatan, Divrei Yehonatan, Nefesh Yehonatan, Midrash Yehonatan and Tzefichat haDevash) and a collection of scriptural observations of the Vilna Gaon: Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman.

Chassidut! The only work of “general Chassidut” that I have is the Noam Elimelekh. For Breslov, I have the Liqqutei Moharan, Shivchei haRan, Sikhot haRan, and an English translation of Rebbe Nachman’s stories. I have a haggadah with a commentary by Spinker Hasidim, the Sefat Emet of the second Gerrer Rebbe, Reb Arleh’s Shomer Emunim (in two volumes), together with a couple of works that were published by Toldos Aharon: Tiqvat haGe’ulah and Derekh Emunah. I have the Satmar Rebbe’s VaYoel Moshe, and number of works of Chabad: Liqqutei ‘Amarim (“Tanya”), Siddur Torah ‘Or, Seder Tefillot miKol haShanah, Torah ‘Or and Liqqutei Torah, two volumes of commentary on various ma’amarim of the Baal haTanya (Chassidut Mevu’eret), the Tzemach Tzedek’s Derekh Mitzvoteikha, and a few works by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, including his Hadranim al-haRambam veShas, Hilkhot Bet haBechirah, and ‘Inyanah shel Torat haChassidut. I did have the full set of Liqqutei Sichot, but until I figure out whether or not I want to sell it, it’s sitting on a shelf in my living room.

As for philosophy, I’ve the Rambam’s Moreh haNevukhim (trans. S. Pines) and R’ Yehuda haLevi’s haKuzari, as well as Reishit Chokhmah, Sha’arei Teshuvah, ‘Orkhot Tzadikkim, and the Ramchal‘s Derekh haShem, Derekh haTevunot and Sefer haHigayon. How I love those last two. I also have a variety of English books on this shelf, whether philosophical (Soloveitchik, Leibowitz, Jacobs, Hirsch and Heschel) or academic. For the latter, I have three works on prayer (R’ Seth Kadish’s Kavvana: Directing the Heart in Jewish Prayer, Jeremy Schonfield’s Undercurrents of Jewish Prayer, and Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s On Changes in Jewish Liturgy: Options and Limitations), as well as Marc Shapiro’s incredible The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles Reappraised. I also have an excellent and provocative work by a brilliant and highly underrated scholar: Judith Plaskow’s Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism From a Feminist Perspective. I have been greatly intrigued by feminist approaches to scripture ever since I encountered the works of Cheryl Exum and Phyllis Trible, and feminist (or at least, gender-based) approaches to rabbinic literature since I discovered Daniel Boyarin. Judith Plaskow’s work is the feminist approach to Jewish tradition par excellence. A must read for feminists, and for those who haven’t yet realised that that’s what they are.

You cannot see it in the photo, but buried on the bottom shelf, like an embarrassing neurosis, is material pertaining to the Holocaust. As with many of my interests, there is a thin line between analysis and devotion, and a confusion over whether or not there is a difference between the two. For that reason, I include here a slim volume of drawings and poems that were made and composed by children in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (I Have Not Seen a Butterfly Around Here), a DVD that contains footage from Penig, Ohrdruf, Breendonck, Hannover, Arnstadt, Mauthausen, Buchenwald and Dachau, and the Piaseczno Rebbe‘s Sacred Fire: Torah From the Years of Fury 1939-1942 (trans. from Esh Kodesh), which could have been placed with parshanut, or even chassidut. Within this section of my fourth shelf, I also have Lucy Dawidowicz’s The War Against the Jews, Raul Hilberg’s Sources of Holocaust Research: An Analysis, his three-volume The Destruction of the European Jews, Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich, and Claude Lanzmann’s brilliant 9.5hr documentary, Shoah.

Ah, it’s bookshelf #5! This one is a continuation of my primary rabbinic literature, but this time with a decidedly halakhic and kabbalistic theme. Along the top is my Babylonian Talmud, followed by my Palestinian Talmud (in eight clunky volumes; I miss my single-volume Yerushalmi). The second shelf contains antique and rare books, recently rescued from the cabinet in my living room. The oldest of these books is from 1701, although some of them were published in places like Warsaw, Vilna and Berlin immediately prior to the Shoah. One of them (Avraham Mapu’s Ahavat Tziyon) was published in “Palestine”, 1948. The introduction notes that it was published “שבועים להכרזת המדינה היהודית” (two weeks after the declaration of a Jewish state)! Those that are in particularly poor condition (excluding a few that are at the book doctor’s as we speak) are sitting in the cabinet still, waiting to be looked after.

At the end of the Old and Rare Books section, the halakhic literature continues with my midrash halakha: Mekhilta deRebi Shim’on bar Yochai, Mekhilta deRebi Ishmael, two versions of Sifra (“Torat Kohanim”; one of them a critical edition), Sifrei on Numbers and Deuteronomy, and Midrash Tannaim. Next is my 13-volume Mishnayot Zekher Chanokh: a set of Mishna, published by Moznaim, with every conceivable commentary and super-commentary that you could poke a stick at. Following that is Sefer haChinukh, the Rambam’s Sefer haMitzvot, and the Rambam’s illustrious Mishne Torah. After those is Rabbi Yitzhak of Vienna’s ‘Or Zarua and the anonymously authored Sefer Kol Bo, followed by the Arba’ah Turim and the Shulchan Arukh, the Shulchan Arukh haRav, Hayyei Adam, Mishne Berurah, Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, Ben Ish Chai, the Arukh haShulchan and the Arukh haShulchan he’Atid.

Some “minor” works of halakha follow, some of them in English, after which I’ve placed my Sifrei haGeonim: Rav Saadiah Gaon’s Siddur, the famous responsum of Rav Sherira Gaon and the Sheiltot of Rav Achai Gaon. My favourite siddur follows (Siddur Vilna, if you’re curious, although I think that Siddur Torah ‘Or and Seder Tefillot miKol haShanah are both marvellous), the machzorim that I inherited from my grandfather and a couple of haggadot.

You cannot see the bottom shelf on this photo either, but it contains some “kabbalistic” siddurim with kavvanot included: one three-volume set in the tradition of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, a single volume that purports to be the siddur of Rabbi Asher Margoliot, and two hand-written siddurim by a hasid of Shomer Emunim (one of them with a haskamah from Rabbi Yisroel Reizman of the Edah). I have a couple of copies of Sefer Yetzirah (one with R’ Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary, and one with commentaries by the Raavad, the Ramban, Rav Saadiah Gaon and the Vilna Gaon, amongst others), R’ Aryeh Kaplan’s translation and commentary of Sefer haBahir, and two versions of Sefer Raziel haMal’akh. Following those is a reference book on Jewish amulets, a nice three-volume set of Sefer haZohar al-haTorah, and the twenty-two volume “Matoq miDevash” commentary on Sefer haZohar (with Tiqqunei haZohar and Zohar Chadash).

The following is a catalogue of my Old and Rare books, arranged in chronological order by date of publication:

Amsterdam, 1701. A small Hebrew Bible (Biblia Hebraica), with no vowels or accents, and with the qere/ktiv written in the form of a list at the back;

Magdeburg, 1720. A large Hebrew Bible (Biblia Hebraica), with text-critical apparatus in the margins and at the bottoms of the pages. The volume features a Latin introduction, and a dedication to King Frederick Wilhelm I (“Friderico Wilhelmo”). The title page features an illustration of five men, one of whom wears a crown and has a harp at his feat. They have Isaiah 8:20 open before them, with the words לתורה ולתעודה (“For teaching and for instruction”, NRSV) on display. They are gazing in wonder as the heavens above them open: a celestial temple can be seen through the clouds, above which is a triangle which features three yods, and which radiates light over the whole scene. A banner, beneath the lowermost cloud, features a (slightly truncated) quote from Psalm 36:10: כי] עמך מקור חיים באורך נראה אור (“[For] with you is the source of life; by your light we will see light”):

London, 1843. Moses Margoliouth, The Fundamental Principles of Modern Judaism Investigated; Together with a Memoir of the Author, and an Introduction: to which are appended a List of the Six Hundred and Thirteen Precepts: and Addresses to Jews and Christians;

Prague, 1856. A machzor for Yom Kippur, acc. to the tradition of Poland, Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary (כמנהג פולין בעהמען מעהרן ואונגארן), with German translation. The front page features an illustration of Abraham, knife-drawn, holding the hand of a young Isaac, who clutches a bundle of sticks and looks innocently at his father. The inscription: מי שענה לאברהם אבינו בהר המוריה הוא יעננו (“He who responded to our father, Abraham, on Mt Moriah – he will respond to us”). If you look carefully, you can see a ram in the thicket behind them:

Prague, 1860. Selichot for the entire year, acc. to the tradition of Poland, Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary (כמנהג פולין בעהמען מעהרן ואונגארן);

Warsaw, 1863. The first volume of a three-volume Zohar al-haTorah;

Vienna, 1863. The liturgy for Tishah b’Av, with Lamentations. The title page boasts the presence of large letters, nice paper and black ink (באותיות גדולות ובנייר יפה ובדיו שחור);

London, 1864. A King James Bible, originally gifted by a mother to her son in 1881;

London, 1864. A siddur in Hebrew and English, acc. to the Polish tradition;

Berlin, 1866. The third and fourth volumes of a Mishne Torah (being the fourth and fifth books: נשים and קדושה) – in need of rebinding;

London, 1868. W.M. Thomson, The Land and the Book; or, Biblical Illustrations drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land;

Lemberg, 1870. Rabbi Chaim ben Shlomo of Chernowitz, סדורו של שבת (Sidduro Shel Shabbat, “The Order of Shabbat”). A Hasidic discourse on the laws and customs of Shabbat;

Vilna, 1873. A machzor for Rosh haShana, Yom Kippur, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, acc. to the Ashkenazi tradition – currently being rebound;

Vilna, 1874. Rabbi Bahya ibn Paquda, חובות הלבבות (Chovvot haLevavot, “Duties of the Heart”);

London, 1874. Reverend A.P. Mendes, The Students Prayer Book: A New Interlinear Translation of the Daily, Sabbath and Festival Prayers, with the Blessings, Prayers for Children, &c., &c., to which is prefixed A Compendium of the Hebrew Accidence, Designed to Serve as an Introduction to the Study of the Sacred Language;

Unknown, 1881. A large English King James Bible with embossed wooden covers and metal clasps. Extensive commentary, copious illustrations (both black-and-white and colour), and introductions dealing with flora, fauna, weaponry, architecture, etc. Apocrypha included:

London, 1886. Frederic W. Farrar, History of Interpretation: Eight Lectures Preached Before the University of Oxford in the Year MDCCCLXXXV;

Vilna, 1887. The first volume of a Midrash Rabba (being Genesis Rabba and Exodus Rabba) – in need of rebinding;

Vilna, 1891. Seder Zeraim in the Mishna, together with the commentaries of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bertinoro and Rabbi Yisroel Lipschitz (“Tiferet Yisrael”), and selections from the commentary of Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller (“Tosafot Yom-Tov”);

Philadelphia, 1891. Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews. Volume 1: From the Earliest Period to the Death of Simon the Maccabee (135 BCE);

Vilna, 1895. A Siddur in the Ashkenazi tradition;

Vienna, 1896. A Hebrew Bible;

Vilna, 1898. Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Yissachar Shapira, תפארת יעקב (Tiferet Yaakov). A super-commentary on the תפארת ישראל (Tiferet Yisrael: Rabbi Yisroel Lipschitz’s commentary on the Mishna). This volume contains an approbation by the Rogatchover Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rosen;

Vilna, 1898. A collection of poems by the maskil, Yehuda Leib Gordon, cleverly titled “שיַרי השירים” (Shayarei haShirim, “Remnants of Songs”);

Tarnów, 1904. Rabbi Elimelekh of Lizhensk, נועם אלימלך (Noam Elimelekh). A Hasidic commentary on the Torah. This volume contains an approbation by the Shinever Rov, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam – currently being rebound;

Vilna, 1911. Selichot for Rosh haShana – currently being rebound;

Braunschweig, 1907. C. Diercke and E. Gaebler, Schul-atlas für höhere lehrenstalten (“An Atlas For High School Students”) – in need of rebinding;

Berlin, 1912. A Hebrew Bible;

Vilna, 1913. Chaim Meir Heilman, בית רבי: תולדות הרב (Beit Rebi: Toldot haRav, “The House of Rebbe: Generations of the Rav”). The text constitutes an early history of Chabad, dealing with the lives of Rabbi Schneur Zalman (“the Alter Rebbe”), Rabbi Dovber Schneuri (“the Mitteler Rebbe”) and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (“the Tzemach Tzedek”);

Pietrkov, 1913. A machzor for Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur, acc. to the Ashkenazi tradition;

Vienna, 1921. Moses Rath, שפת עמנו: A Hebrew Grammar and Reader for Schools and Selfinstruction – currently being rebound;

Leipzig, 1922. Chaim Brody (ed.), מבחר השירה העברית: Anthologia Hebraica: Poemata selecta a libris divinis confectis usque ad iudaeorum ex hispania expulsionem. A selection of Hebrew poems, composed between the years immediately following the formation of the canon until the exile from Spain. The oldest poems in the text are by Ben Sirach, and the latest are by Rabbi Shlomo ben Reuven Bonfid;

London, 1922. Hillaire Belloc, The Jews – first edition;

Warsaw, 1922. Shmuel Leib Gordon, עשרים וארבעה: נביאים אחרונים – דברי ירמיהו (‘Esrim veArba’ah: Neviyim Acharonim – Divrei Yirmiyahu, “Twenty-Four: Latter Prophets – The Words of Jeremiah”). The third volume of an illustrated commentary on the twenty-four books of Tanakh;

Berlin, 1924. A beautiful facsimile of a handwritten Shir haShirim;

London, 1926. A Hebrew Bible;

Berlin, 1927. Rabbi Yaakov ibn Habib, עין יעקב (Ein Yaakov). Originally composed at the end of the 15th century, the work constitutes a presentation of the aggadic passages in the Babylonian Talmud, together with the author’s commentary;

Warsaw, 1927. A small siddur in the Ashkenazi tradition, titled שפת אמת (Sefat Emet, “Truthful Speech”);

Vienna, 1930. A haggadah for Pesach;

London, 1933. A haggadah for Pesach;

Vienna, 1934. A two-park machzor for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, acc. to the Polish tradition;

Vienna, 1937. A haggadah for Pesach;

Cairo, 1940. A haggadah for Pesach, acc. to the Karaite tradition. Written in French and Hebrew, with a disclaimer in Hebrew and Arabic to the effect that anybody who reproduces a Karaite siddur without it being stamped with the offical stamp of the Karaite bet din in Egypt will be penalised in accordance with local law;

Jerusalem, 1948. Abraham Mapu, אהבת ציון (Ahavat Tziyon, “Love of Zion”). First published in 1853 (בשנת תרי”ג, as the introduction innocently points out), Ahavat Tziyon was the first novel ever published in the Hebrew language. This version was published in “Eretz-Israel (Palestine)”, two weeks after the declaration of the Jewish state (שבועים להכרזת המדינה היהודית);

Unknown, 1952. A haggadah for Pesach, acc. to the Karaite tradition. Written in Arabic;

Unknown. A siddur in the Ashkenazi tradition, of unknown provenance. The binding is strong, but the pages are in poor condition. My guess is that it is either early 20th century, or very late 19th.

Facsimiles:
• The Aleppo Codex, or כתר ארם צובא (Keter Aram Tzova, “Crown of Aleppo”). The earliest Hebrew Bible in codex form, dating from the 10th century. The full extant manuscript (severely damaged after the synagogue that housed it was set alight in the 20th century) can be viewed online. The original is housed in Jerusalem, at the Shrine of the Book;

• The Leningrad Codex. After the damage accrued by the Aleppo Codex, this is now the oldest most complete Hebrew Bible in codex form, dating from the 11th century. According to the colophon, the text was completed in the month of Sivan, of the year 4770 – almost exactly one thousand years ago (1010/11 CE). The date is also given as 1444 since the exile of King Jehoiachin, as 1319 from the “dominion of the Greeks” and the cessation of prophecy, of 940 since the destruction of the second temple, and of 399 of the “reign of the small horn” (ie: Hijrah). The full text can be downloaded from this link. The original is housed in the National Library of Russia, under “Firkovich B 19 A”;

• A haggadah from Prague, 1527. It would appear that the original is kept by the Religious Council of Efrat, although I have not been able to determine where, and under which classification:

• A (very) small Birkat haMazon from Hungary, written and illustrated by a Polish scribe named Meshullam, who went by the name of Zimel (נעשה ונכתב ע”י הסופר משולם המכונה זימל פאלין). Acc. to the title page, the booklet was commissioned in 1751 as a gift from Koppel, son of Rav Yirmiyahu Broda, to his bride, Gittel, the daughter of Rav Savel Leidersdorf. There are colour illustrations throughout the text, some quite gruesome. Alongside the additional prayer said on Purim is the hanging of Haman and his sons. Alongside the additional prayer said on Hanukkah is Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes aloft, the stump of his neck protruding bloodily from the sheets of his bed. In the background, a boy lights a hanukkiah, and in the foreground stands a girl who waits to receive his head in an open sack. The original is housed in the Jewish Museum in Budapest, No. 64.626:


Actions

Information

5 responses

13 12 2011
Daniel Lipman Lowbeer

Crikey. I hope you have good fire insurance.

13 12 2011
Annelise

The intellectual flammability of all those works together is almost a physical risk to the room :) That is amazing, Simon! And actually a pretty interesting read. I like browsing book titles, and the contours of collections. I can understand devoting years and years to delving through the endless material; there’s so much in it, and so much of it.

14 12 2011
Simon Holloway

I have a recurring fantasy that time should stop for a century or so and leave me trapped in here. Failing that, I might just buy a million tins of tuna and barricade the door.

14 12 2011
Annelise

Mm, understand. What would you do when time resumed?

14 12 2011
Sean

You really need to get a decent camera. You’re not doing those poor things justice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: