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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B62
Parchment · 138 ff. · 12.2 x 9.5 cm · Amsterdam, copied by Meir Cohen Belinfante, decorated by Isaac Siprut · 1728
De Pinto Psalter (Sefer Tehillim)

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 14:33:46
In 1728 Meir Cohen Belinfante copied this decorated psalter for Aaron de Joseph de Pinto, member of a prominent Portuguese-Jewish family in Amsterdam (see cat no. 38). The manuscript was copied from a printed edition by the Amsterdam printer of Hebrew and Spanish books, David de Castro Tartas, who was active between 1662 and 1698. Although Tartas printed two editions of the Psalms, in 1670 and 1682, only the 1670 duodecimo edition contained the introduction to the cantillation of the Psalms by Solomon de Oliveyra that was included here as well.
At the end of the manuscript, there is a text by the corrector, Isaac Saruk, who praised the precision of the manuscript and wrote a poem in honor of the patron. The poem includes an acrostic of the name Aaron, as well as a highlighted section with the Hebrew name Pinto, as the syllables “pin” and “to” appear at the end and the beginning of two consecutive words.
The manuscript has a decorated title page, one illustrated initial word panel, and two devices that imitate printed ornamental elements. All decorations, including the title page, were executed in brown ink similar to that of the text ink. The illustrated title page is signed by its artist: “Is.[hack] Siprut fec.[it], 1727.” Depicted on this page are David, the psalmist, and Aaron, clearly a reference to the first name of the patron. The name of the patron’s father, Joseph, explains the choice of bottom scene, in which the biblical Joseph is portrayed, most probably before his parents and brothers, pointing to the sheaves and stars of his dreams (Genesis 37:1–11). Also included are the crowns of the Torah (commonly associated with Moses, who does not, however, appear here), of priesthood (Aaron), and of kingship (David), taken from the Talmudic Sayings of the Fathers, 4:17. Although copied when a school of manuscript decoration in central and northern Europe flourished in the eighteenth century, this psalter is not typical of the manuscripts it produced. The pen-work decoration in the De Pinto Psalter, instead, reflects an autonomous calligraphic tradition found in some Amsterdam Sephardic, often polemical, manuscripts in Spanish and Hebrew of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as does the monumental Sephardic square script.

A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 118.
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Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B67
Parchment · 60 ff. · 14.2 x 9.5 cm · [Corfu] · [around 1720]
Harrison Miscellany

e-codices · 11/27/2014, 11:41:38
The most striking aspect of the Harrison Miscellany is its cycle of sixty full-page illustrations from the book of Genesis. Such cycles are otherwise unknown in post-medieval Hebrew manuscripts. The fine-quality illustrations, executed in gouache, are the work of a highly skilled artist, probably trained in Venice. Surrounded by a floral border, each miniature bears a Hebrew inscription, usually a biblical verse, identifying the scene. Facing each of the images are Hebrew prayers, poems, and sayings, unrelated to the illustration. The left-to-right sequence of the paintings indicates they were executed separately from the text, probably by a non-Jewish artist. An unidentified monogram, MC, appears in many of the scenes.
The text consists of prayers, blessings, and poems for a wedding ceremony, following the custom of the Jews of Corfu. Additional poems are by a variety of poets, some by writers of the Hebrew Golden Age in medieval Spain, others by local authors, including Rabbi Eliezer de Mordo. The de Mordos were a prominent Jewish family in Corfu whose members included physicians, rabbis, and community leaders. The family played an important role in the defense of Corfu, then under Venetian rule, against Ottoman invaders. At least two people by the name Eliezer de Mordo graduated as physicians at the university of Padua, in 1699 and 1765, respectively. It seems likely that Rabbi Eliezer de Mordo, whose poems appear in the Harrison Miscellany, is the physician who received his medical diploma in 1699.
Although the illustrations and the texts do not relate directly to one another, the depictions of the wedding scenes based on biblical stories, as well as the frequent representations of women, suggest that this extraordinary manuscript may have been commissioned as a bridal gift, perhaps from a member of the de Mordo family to his bride. Cecil Roth made this manuscript famous by including numerous re- productions of its biblical scenes in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, which he edited. The manuscript, named after its former owner, was identified previously as Italian, probably from the seventeenth century. Later research proved conclusively that it was written in Corfu in the first half of the eighteenth century.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, S. 108.
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Online Since: 12/18/2014

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B67
Parchment · 60 ff. · 14.2 x 9.5 cm · [Corfu] · [around 1720]
Harrison Miscellany

e-codices · 11/27/2014, 11:47:21
Ein Zyklus von 60 ganzseitigen Illustrationen zum Buch Genesis verleiht der Harrison-Mischhandschrift ihren einmaligen Stellenwert, denn Ähnliches ist aus nachmittelalterlichen hebräischen Handschriften nicht bekannt. Die hohe Qualität dieser in Gouache ausgeführten Bilder bezeugt die künstlerischen Fähigkeiten eines Illustrators, der möglicherweise in Venedig ausgebildet wurde. Die ganzseitigen Bilder sind jeweils mit erklärenden, vorwiegend Bibelversen entnommenen Inschriften versehen. Zwischen den Illustrationen und Texten besteht allerdings kein direkter Zusammenhang. Auf den meisten Bildseiten und zum Teil auch in den floralen Schmuckbordüren der Textseiten findet sich das Monogramm des Künstlers in verschiedenen Schreibweisen, das in der vollen Form wohl als «M. C. MF.» zu lesen ist. Die von hebräischen Büchern abweichende Anordnung der Buchseiten «von vorne nach hinten» lässt darauf schliessen, dass zunächst ein christlicher Künstler die Harrison Mischhandschrift illustrierte und die hebräischen Texte in einem zweiten Schritt eingetragen wurden.
Lange nahm man für diese nach einem früheren Besitzer benannte Handschrift eine italienische Herkunft an. Inzwischen wurde aber nachgewiesen, dass sie in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts auf der Insel Korfu entstand. Sie enthält Gebete, Segenssprüche und Gedichte für die Hochzeitszeremonie nach den religiösen Gebräuchen der Juden in Korfu. Weitere Poeme schliessen sich an, einige stammen von Dichtern aus dem Goldenen Zeitalter der Juden im mittelalterlichen Spanien, andere von lokalen Autoren wie Elieser de Mordo. Bei der Verteidigung Korfus gegen die osmanischen Angriffe während der venezianischen Oberherrschaft spielte die Familie de Mordo eine nicht geringe Rolle. Bedeutende Ärzte, Rabbiner und Gemeindevorsteher gingen aus ihr hervor. Zwei Ärzte mit Namen Elieser de Mordo sind belegt, die an der Universität von Padua promovierten – der eine 1699, der andere 1765. Ersterer ist wahrscheinlich der Verfasser des Hochzeitspoems, das diese Handschrift enthält. Die Hochzeitsszenen ebenso wie die Frauendarstellungen basieren auf biblischen Geschichten. Wahrscheinlich ist diese Handschrift als Brautgeschenk eines Mitglieds der Familie de Mordo in Auftrag gegeben worden.

Aus: Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 156-157.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B93
Parchment · 15 ff. · 27.2 x 18.6 cm · [Catalonia?, copied by a scribe named Moses] · [second half of the 14th century (around 1391?)]
Astronomical and Astrological Miscellany

e-codices · 01/28/2015, 09:29:17
Die Rolle jüdischer Gelehrter bei der Vermittlung der Wissenschaften im Mittelalter wird im Allgemeinen als sehr bedeutsam eingeschätzt. Eine Reihe arabischer wissenschaftlicher Werke etwa lernte die christliche Welt aus hebräischen Übersetzungen kennen. Die vorliegende Handschrift wurde höchst wahrscheinlich vom selben Schreiber kopiert, der auch einen viel umfangreicheren Kodex ähnlichen Inhalts abschrieb, der sich einst im Besitz der Londoner Sassoon Collection und heute in der Schoenberg Collection der University of Pennsylvania (ljs 057) befindet. Im Pennsylvania Kodex trug der Schreiber seinen Namen mit Zierbuchstaben ein. Eine weitere Teilabschrift befindet sich in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek in Wien (Cod. Hebr. 132).
Das Manuskript der Braginsky Collection enthält fünf Auszüge aus dem Philadelphia Kodex: (1) Tabellen der Mondbewegungen, verfasst von Jakob ben David ben Jomtow (Bonjorn), der wohl 1356 in die Dienste des Königs Pedro IV. von Aragon getreten war; (2-4) Astrologische Werke von Abraham Ibn Esra (1089–um 1164): ein Fragment von Reschit chochma («Anfang der Weisheit»), den grösseren Teil von Mischpete ha-massalot («Gesetze der Sternenbahnen») und den grösseren Teil von Sefer ha-olam («Buch der Welt»); (5) Sefer ha-miwcharim le-Batlamjus, das Almagest des Ptolemäus. Damit kann die Auffassung Tzvi Langermanns aus dem Jahr 1988 korrigiert werden, dieser Text sei ausschliesslich im Philadelphia Kodex überliefert.
Das hier gezeigte Fragment eines «Sternenkatalogs» mit der Berechnung für das Jahr 1391, im Philadelphia Kodex in voller Länge enthalten, gibt drei nahe zusammenstehende Sternenkonstel- lationen der klassischen Antike wieder. Auf fol. 15r ist es Orion, Ha-gibbor ba-te’omim («Held der Zwillinge»), auf fol. 15v sind es die Sternzeichen Ha-nahar («Fluss», Eridanus) und Ha-arnewet («Hase»). Die bildlichen Darstellungen basieren auf dem arabischen «Buch der Fixsterne», das der persische Astronom Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi im Jahre 964 verfasste. Es handelt sich dabei um den Versuch einer Synthese von Ptolemäus’ Almagest und tradiertem arabischen Wissen. Die mit goldener Farbe gesetzten Punkte zeigen die Sterne in ihren jeweiligen Konstellationen an.

Aus: Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 120.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B93
Parchment · 15 ff. · 27.2 x 18.6 cm · [Catalonia?, copied by a scribe named Moses] · [second half of the 14th century (around 1391?)]
Astronomical and Astrological Miscellany

e-codices · 02/19/2015, 17:11:13
Jewish scholars are generally assumed to have played an important role in the medieval transmission of science. It is in part through translations into Hebrew that the Christian world learned of medieval Arabic scientific works. This manuscript was most probably copied by the scribe of a much larger miscellany with similar content, which was once part of the Sassoon Collection of London (Sassoon 823; also see cat. no. 97). The name of the scribe of both manuscripts, Moses, is known because he emphasized it with decorations in the larger manuscript. The Sassoon manuscript is now part of the Schoenberg Collection at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (ljs 057). Another copy of part of the codex is housed in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna (MS. Heb 132).
The Braginsky manuscript contains excerpts from a number of texts contained in the Philadelphia codex:
(1) Tables on lunar motion by Jacob ben David Bonjorn (14th century), who in 1356 may have entered the service of the King of Catalonia and Aragon, Pedro IV, "the Ceremonious."
(2–4) Astrological works of Abraham ibn Ezra (1089–ca. 1164): a fragment of Reshit Hokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom), the larger part of Mishpetei ha-Mazzalot (Judgments of the Constellations), and the larger part of Sefer ha-Olam (Book of the World).
(5) Sefer ha-Mivharim le-Batlamyus (Ptolemy’s Book of Elections, i.e. his Almagest). In 1988 Y. Tzvi Langermann, in an article on the Philadelphia codex, claimed in regard to the latter text that "to the best of my knowledge, this is an unicum," but the Braginsky manuscript contains the text as well.

The fragment of a "star catalogue" shown here, calculated for the epoch 1391, appears in full in the larger codex and represents three relatively close stellar constellations. On folio 15r Ha-Gibbor ba-Te’omim (the hero of twins) is Orion, while on folio 15v Ha-Nahar (river) is Eridanus, and Ha-Arnevet (hare) is Lepus. The imagery is based on the Arabic Book of Fixed Stars, written in 964 by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (903–986). It was an attempt at a synthesis of Ptolemy’s Almagest and Arabic tradition. The golden dots indicate the stars within each constellation.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 40.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B103
Paper · 128 ff. · 21 x 15 cm · [Yemen] · [before 1646]
Midrash Hemdat Yamim (Commentary "Pleasant Days", on the Pentateuch)

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 14:46:02
“Of him great deeds and wonders and miraculous and amazing acts are related that he did for Israel and against the mighty and cruel kings that tormented and did evil with Israel in his days, for in his days they exiled the Jews in San’a.” Reference is made here by the well-known traveler Jacob Saphir of Vilna (1822–1855) to the greatest of Yemenite Jewish poets, Shalom Shabazi. Little reliable information about Shabazi’s life is available. What is known comes from his own works, some 550 poems and a few other texts. Among these is his homiletical commentary on the Pentateuch, of which this Braginsky manuscript is an early example. Many legends about the national poet existed among the Jews of Yemen. During his lifetime the political situation for the Jews of Yemen was one of great turmoil, persecution, and messianic anticipation. Shabazi invested his poetry, written in a popular, relatively accessible style, with feelings of hope and redemption.
Shlomo Zucker, in an unpublished description kept with the manuscript, identified the Braginsky manuscript of Shabazi’s commentary as an autograph of the author on the basis of careful comparison with a number of signed manuscripts, notably two manuscripts in the National Library of Israel, a Mishneh Torah fragment (Heb. Ms. 8° 6570) and a ikhlal of 1677 (Yah. Heb. 152). The text of the manuscript, containing the commentary on Genesis 37–Deuteronomy 31, differs from other known versions of the commentary, some of them autographs as well. This indicates that Shabazi, like so many other Jewish authors, considered his commentary a work in progress rather than a final composition. During his lifetime he must have made copies of different versions of his work. The dating of the Braginsky manuscript is based on a statement by Shabazi in a later version of the commentary, published in Jerusalem in 1983 on the basis of a manuscript from 1672, in which he noted that he finished an earlier version of the commentary in 1646. The Braginsky volume, from which the beginning of Exodus 21 is shown here, may well be the earliest version of the commentary.

A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 96.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B104
Paper · 5 ff. · 16 x 10 cm · [Vilnius], Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman · [second half of the 18th century]
Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, Kitzur Hekhalot ha-Kudushah ("Abridgment of [the treatise on] the Holiness of Celestial Palaces")

e-codices · 01/28/2015, 10:09:04
Der Name Gaon von Wilna steht für eine der brillanten und zugleich im Ruf der Heiligkeit stehenden Figuren der jüdischen Religionsgeschichte von geradezu mythischer Dimension. Der Ehrentitel «Gaon» bedeutet «der hervorragende Toragelehrte». Im Rang gleich hinter Moses Maimonides stehend, verkörpert Rabbi Elija ben Salomon von Wilna (1720-1797) die höchste Stufe des religiösen Studiums und der Frömmigkeit im nachtalmudischen rabbinischen Judentum. Bereits zu seinen Lebzeiten als herausragender Gelehrter verehrt, zirkulierten bald nach seinem Tod ihm zugeschriebene Manuskripte, doch hatte er in Wahrheit nur wenig Schriftliches hinterlassen. Deshalb liess das rabbinische Gremium von Wilna erklären, alles, was unter dem Namen des Gaon publiziert würde, bedürfe einer Autorisierung. Tatsächlich sind heute nur vier Originalmanuskripte bekannt. Eines davon wird hier gezeigt. Zwei Autografen befinden sich in der Jerusalemer Nationalbibliothek, ein weiteres wurde in einer Biografie über Rabbi Elija reproduziert. Mit diesen Autografen stimmt die Braginsky-Handschrift bis zu den Abmessungen des Papiers vollkommen überein. Anmerkungen von der Hand des Gaon wurden in eine Amsterdamer Druckausgabe des Palästinischen Talmud (Seder sera’im) von 1701 aufgenommen.
Der Text des Braginsky-Manuskripts enthält Kommentare Rabbi Elijas zu einer Passage des Sohar, des klassischen Werks der jüdischen Mystik. Während der Gaon in erster Linie für seinen Beitrag zur talmudischen und rabbinischen Literatur berühmt ist, sind seine bedeutenden Studien zur Kabbala weniger bekannt. Die Kommentare der Braginsky-Handschrift erschienen im 19. Jahrhundert in gedruckter Form, wobei ausdrücklich betont wurde, dass die vorliegende eigenhändige Niederschrift (mi-guf ketaw jad kodscho) der Druckfassung als Vorlage gedient habe. Tatsächlich stimmen die Randbemerkungen und die Korrekturen im Braginsky-Manuskript mit diesem Druck exakt überein.

Aus: Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 116.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B104
Paper · 5 ff. · 16 x 10 cm · [Vilnius], Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman · [second half of the 18th century]
Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, Kitzur Hekhalot ha-Kudushah ("Abridgment of [the treatise on] the Holiness of Celestial Palaces")

e-codices · 01/28/2015, 10:09:50
The name of the Gaon of Vilna conjures up an almost mythical figure of brilliance and saintliness. After Maimonides, it is Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon of Vilna (1720–1797) who epitomizes the highest achievements in learning and piety in post-Talmudic rabbinic Judaism. A man of great fame in his own life time, he left few manuscripts behind. Shortly after his death, writings attributed to him began to circulate. The rabbinic court of Vilna found it necessary to issue a statement declaring that any work that was to be published under the name of the Gaon had to be authenticated by the court. Indeed, today only four manuscripts are known as being genuinely in the hand of the Gaon. The work displayed here is one of them. Two other leaves are treasures of the National Library in Jerusalem; a third is reproduced in a biography of Rabbi Elijah. In addition, his autograph notes appear throughout a printed edition of the Palestinian Talmud, Seder Zera’im, Amsterdam, 1701.
The text of this manuscript contains comments by the Vilna Gaon on a passage of the Zohar, the classic work of Jewish mysticism. The Gaon’s fame rests mainly on his contributions to Talmudic and rabbinic literature; it is less well known that he was also a great scholar of Kabbalah. The comments seen here were printed in the nineteenth century by one of the highly respected experts on the Gaon’s kabbalistic writings. In that publication, the beginning and end of the present text are clearly and explicitly marked as having been printed from an autograph manuscript (mi-guf ketav yad kodsho). Indeed, the marginal notes and the corrections in the Braginsky Collection copy appear exactly as in the printed edition, indicated by parentheses and square brackets. All other aspects of the manuscript, including even the dimensions of the paper, are identical with those of the other documented autographs.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 136.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B112
Paper · 339 ff. · 29.4 x 23 cm · Prague · 1806
Bezalel Ranschburg, Pithei Niddah ("Gates of Impurity")

e-codices · 01/28/2015, 10:11:37
Although Rabbi Bezalel Ranschburg (1762–1820) never served officially in a rabbinic position, he was still highly regarded as one of the leading rabbinic scholars of his age in Prague and beyond. Prague, a center of Jewish learning, was also the home of the famous Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, an older contemporary and friend of Ranschburg. The rabbinic learning of Ranschburg is manifest in his commentaries on two difficult Talmud tractates, Horayot and Niddah, the manuscript displayed here. In his introductions to these works, Ranschburg wrote that he chose them because of their difficulty and because they were not among the regular staples of the yeshivas. His glosses were printed on the pages of the standard Talmud editions; he was also the author of responsa and other commentaries, now lost. In addition, Ranschburg possessed a remarkable library of Hebrew books.
In order to be printed in the Kingdom of Austria in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Hebrew books required the permission of the royal censor. The censor in Prague in Ranschburg’s time was Carolus Fischer (1755–1844), whose name appears on many books printed there. Fischer, of Christian birth, was extremely well-versed in Hebrew language and literature. He was an enlightened person who defended Talmudic and rabbinic writings against their Christian detractors. An extensive Hebrew correspondence, consisting of about fifty letters between him and Ranschburg, is extant. In the censorial approval of Ranschburg’s commentary to Horayot, Horah Gever (Prague, 1802), Fischer described Ranschburg as a rabbi well known to him and famous for his learning. Fischer’s signed approval in Latin (1815) appears in the present manuscript. For reasons unknown, however, this work was not printed at that time. It was first published from this manuscript in 1957.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 144.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B115
Parchment · 264 ff. · 22.5 x 15.5 cm · [Ashkenaz] · [14th–15th century]
Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Small Book of Commandments)

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 14:53:08
Isaak von Corbeil (gestorben 1280), möglicherweise wegen einer auffallenden Nase Ba’al ha-chotem («Herr Nase») genannt, ist der Autor des halachischen Werks Sefer mizwot katan (SeMaK). Die in Frankreich entstandene Kurzfassung der 613 biblischen Gebote fand auch in Deutschland bald Anerkennung und galt da in der Folge als massgebliches religionsgesetzliches Werk. Kommentare und Glossen wurden in den Handschriften des Sefer mizwot katan häufig als ästhetisch ansprechende und kalligrafisch phantasievolle Schriftbilder gestaltet. Da die Schreiber die Quellen dieser Zusätze nicht benannten, bleibt deren Autorschaft vielfach im Dunkeln.
Für die weite Verbreitung des Werks in Deutschland finden sich in der Braginsky Collection gleich drei Beispiele. Hier wird das jüngste gezeigt, versehen mit den Glossen von Moses von Zürich (Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts). Handschriften mit Moses’ Glossen nennt die Fachwelt «Zürcher». Ob er und seine Schüler in den Pestpogromen von 1348/49 umgekommen sind oder nach Bern fliehen konnten, ist in der Forschung umstritten.

Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 64.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B115
Parchment · 264 ff. · 22.5 x 15.5 cm · [Ashkenaz] · [14th–15th century]
Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Small Book of Commandments)

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 14:57:25
Isaac of Corbeil (d. 1280), also known as Ba’al ha-Hotem, perhaps because of his prominent nose, authored the Sefer Mitzvot Katan (SeMaK), the Small Book of Commandments. He divided the 613 positive and negative biblical commandments, and a few additional rabbinic ones, into seven daily sections to be read sequentially and completed once a week. Rabbinic leaders in France instructed students to copy the work into their prayer books and recite the daily reading of the commandments instead of supplications or the book of Psalms.
The SeMaK quickly reached Germany where it was recognized as an authoritative halakhic work. Often comments and glosses in the form of rectangular shaped “windows” were added in the margins or in the text itself producing aesthetically pleasing and imaginative page layouts. By not identifying the source of these glosses, scribes frequently created difficulties in determining authorship of the commentaries.
The three manuscripts discussed here exemplify the complex diffusion of the SeMaK. The latest (BC 115) contains the glosses of Moses of Zurich, who lived in Zurich in the middle of the fourteenth century. There is disagreement whether he and his students died in the pogroms following the Black Death or if he escaped to Bern. Manuscripts containing Moses’ glosses are called the Zürcher.
The other two manuscripts (BC 240 and 182) originally formed one volume. Their scribe, Moses Winik, whose name is derived from Windecken, near Frankfurt am Main, lived in Cologne in the 1390s. Later he moved to Treviso, Italy, where he died in 1411. His tombstone indicates he was the head of a yeshiva. He corresponded with rabbinic contemporaries and engaged in mystical studies. A charm for the healing of burns is attributed to him.
Moses Winik copied the SeMaK and a prayer book together, as was customary. He also added a commentary, referred to as Gournish. Although several rabbinic works with this name are known, its etymology is undetermined.

A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 46.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B119
Parchment · 163 ff. · 19.5 x 15 cm · Spain · second half of the 14th century
Pentateuch based on the Hillel Codex

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 15:00:46
Im Mittelalter betrachteten es die jüdischen Gelehrten als eine ihrer wichtigsten Aufgaben, den Text der hebräischen Bibel möglichst akkurat zu überliefern. Einige Handschriften, die diesbezüglich als besonders wertvoll galten, existieren leider nicht mehr. Die angesehenste Handschrift des Pentateuchs war in Spanien unter dem Namen Hilleli bekannt und wird heute als Hilleli Kodex bezeichnet. Die Pentateuch-Handschrift der Braginsky Collection wurde in Spanien kopiert, sehr wahrscheinlich in der zweiten Hälfte des 14. Jahrhunderts und nach einer Handschrift, die als der ursprüngliche Hilleli Kodex galt. Ihre Bedeutung für die Textkritik der Bibel ist vergleichbar mit dem Manuskript des Pentateuchs in der Bibliothek des Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (MS L44a), kopiert im Jahr 1241 in Toledo. Um 1500 schrieb Abraham Zacuto (1452–um 1545), Astronom der Könige Johann II. und Manuel I. von Portugal, in seinem Sefer ha-juchasin («Buch der Familiengenealogien»): «Am ... [14. August 1197] geschah im Königreich León die grosse Verfolgung der Juden durch die Hand der beiden Königreiche, die es bedrängten. Zu dieser Zeit nahmen sie mit sich die 24 Heiligen Schriften, die rund 600 Jahre zuvor von Rabbi Hillel ben Moses ben Hillel geschrieben worden waren, weshalb das Buch mit diesen Schriften Hilleli genannt wurde. Diese Handschrift war ausserordentlich korrekt und diente allen anderen Fassungen als Korrekturvorlage. Ich habe die beiden erhalten gebliebenen Teile, die Früheren und Späteren Propheten, mit eigenen Augen gesehen. Sie waren mit grossen und schönen Buchstaben geschrieben. Diese waren von Flüchtlingen nach Portugal gebracht und in Bugia verkauft worden, wo sie sich 900 Jahre nach ihrer 232Niederschrift immer noch befinden. [Der grosse Bibelkommentator David] Kimchi sagt in Paragraph 10:4 seiner Grammatik, der Pentateuch des Hilleli Kodex habe sich einst in Toledo befunden.» Zuletzt könnte der Hilleli Kodex in Guadalajara für eine Pentateuch-Ausgabe benutzt worden sein, kurz vor der Vertreibung der Juden aus Spanien im Jahr 1492. Aber tatsächlich überdauerte keine einzige Handschrift des Hilleli Kodex die Zeiten, und es ist in Wahrheit ungeklärt, ob es jemals einen «Hilleli Kodex» gab. Vielleicht handelt es sich dabei nur um eine fromme, aus Quellen zweiter Hand überlieferte Legende. Das von Zacuto behauptete hohe Alter ist jedoch keinesfalls korrekt, denn damit wäre der Hilleli Kodex um rund dreihundert Jahre älter als sämtliche bekannten masoretischen (textkritischen) Bibelhandschriften, die ja erst aus dem 10. Jahrhundert stammen.

Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 232.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B119
Parchment · 163 ff. · 19.5 x 15 cm · Spain · second half of the 14th century
Pentateuch based on the Hillel Codex

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 15:03:13
During the Middle Ages Jews found it important to accurately transmit the text of the Hebrew Bible. A number of manuscripts that were in circulation, some of which no longer exist, were considered of particular value. The most famous among these was the manuscript known in Spain as the Hilleli, or the Hillel Codex. The Braginsky Pentateuch manuscript was copied in Spain, most likely in the second half of the fourteenth century, based on what was considered the original Hillel Codex. Its importance for the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible is comparable to that of MS L44a of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, copied in Toledo in 1241; a facsimile edition of it was published in 1974, with an introduction by N.M. Sarna.
Around 1500 Abraham Zacuto (1452–ca. 1515), astronomer to Kings John II and Manuel I of Portugal, wrote in his Sefer ha-Yuhasin (Book of Family Relations): “On … [14 August 1197] there was a great persecution of the Jews in the kingdom of Léon at the hand of the two kingdoms that came to besiege it. At that time they removed from there the 24 holy books that were written some 600 years before. They were written by R. Hillel ben Moses ben Hillel, and his name was given to the codex, which was called ‘Hilleli.’ It was extremely correct and all other codices were revised after it. I saw the remaining two parts of it, containing the Former and Latter Prophets, written in large and beautiful characters. These had been brought by the exiles to Portugal and sold at Bugia in Africa, where they still are, having been written about 900 years ago. [David] Kimhi in his grammar on Numbers 10:4, says that the Pentateuch of the Hillel Codex was extant in Toledo.”
No trace of an original Hillel Codex has survived; it may have been used for the last time for a Pentateuch edition of uadalajara, Spain, shortly before 1492. In truth, it is not clear whether the Hillel Codex ever even existed, or whether it was a legend known only from secondary sources. In any case, the antiquity suggested by Zacuto is incorrect, as it would then have preceded all known Masoretic Bible manuscripts by no less than three centuries.

A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 42.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B124
Parchment · 162 + 1 ff. · 27.8 x 20.2 cm · [Ashkenaz] · [end of the 14th/first half of the 15th century]
Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orah Hayyim ("Row: Way of Life")

e-codices · 01/15/2015, 13:54:39
This manuscript is probably among the oldest copies of the first section of one of the most influential Jewish codes, Jacob ben Asher’s Arba’ah Turim (Four Rows). In this, the first of the four parts of this halakhic work, the author deals with laws about prayers and the synagogue. Jacob was the son of another great rabbi and codifier, Asher ben Jehiel. At the beginning of the fourteenth century Asher left Germany and settled in Spain, "a German rabbi on Spanish soil." In the works of father and son the teachings and methodologies of two distinct rabbinical schools found a harmonious blending, as they display both Sephardic and Franco-German aspects. In the sixteenth century Jacob’s code was characterized by Rabbi Abraham Zacuto as "very useful, for both the learned and unlearned, [as it was] better organized than all previous [works]." Perhaps the main reason for the success of the Turim is that it has a "universal Jewish character." The canonical Shulhan Arukh by Joseph Karo follows the arrangement of Jacob’s Turim.
Countless commentaries and glosses were composed to accompany the Turim. The Braginsky Collection copy of this manuscript also contains copious marginal glosses, including some Slavonic ones. In the glosses reference is made to an otherwise unknown commentary, called Sova Semahot. In addition to the glosses, there is an autograph note by the influential fifteenth-century German rabbi, Jacob Weil. The text of the Tur itself in this manuscript offers variant readings to the standard editions. There are also some unknown responsa in the manuscript by Rabbi Israel Isserlein, of Germany-Austria (1390–1460), the author of the well-known book, Terumat ha-Deshen. Thus a relatively slender volume provides a dynamic view of the continuous process of rabbinic learning and teaching.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 44.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B124
Parchment · 162 + 1 ff. · 27.8 x 20.2 cm · [Ashkenaz] · [end of the 14th/first half of the 15th century]
Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orah Hayyim ("Row: Way of Life")

e-codices · 01/15/2015, 14:12:40
Dieses Manuskript ist wahrscheinlich eine der ältesten Kopien des einflussreichen religionsgesetzlichen Kodex Arba’a turim («Vier Reihen») von Jakob ben Ascher. Die Handschrift umfasst Tur orach chajjim, den ersten der vier Teile des grossangelegten halachischen Werks. Darin behandelt der Verfasser alle mit den Gebeten und der Synagoge zusammenhängenden religionsgesetzlichen Vorschriften.
Zahllose Kommentare und Glossen entstanden rund um die Turim. Die Handschrift der Braginsky Collection enthält umfangreiche Randeinträge, ja sogar einige in slawischer Sprache. In den Glossen wird auf einen ansonsten unbekannten Kommentar Sowa semachot Bezug genommen. Ausserdem findet sich eine autografische Anmerkung des einflussreichen deutschen Rabbiners Jakob Weil aus dem 15. Jahrhundert. Der Text des Tur orach chajjim selbst bietet auch Lesarten, die von den Standardausgaben abweichen. Ferner gibt es in der Handschrift einige ansonsten unbekannte Responsa (rabbinische Antworten) von Israel Isserlin (1390–1460), dem bedeutendsten Rabbiner im deutschsprachigen Raum während des 15. Jahrhunderts und Autor des Buches Terumat ha-deschen. Daran wird deutlich, dass auch ein vergleichsweise schmaler Band wie der vorliegende einen Einblick in den kontinuierlichen Prozess des rabbinischen Studiums und Lehrens zu bieten vermag.

Aus: Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 62.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B125
Paper · 111 ff. · 18.8 x 13.3 cm · [Italy] · [around 1470]
Hippocrates, Aphorisms

e-codices · 11/27/2014, 11:56:09
Almost all medieval Jewish, Christian, and Arabic medical texts are based on Greek scientific works. Arabic scholars translated these from Greek into Arabic in the eighth and ninth centuries; the Arabic translations were then translated into Latin in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Hebrew translations can be based on both Arabic and Latin versions. The only distinctive feature of medieval Jewish medical texts, therefore, is their language: Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew characters), or toward the very end of the Middle Ages, Yiddish.
Among medieval Jewish scholars of medicine the seven chapters of the medical aphorisms of Hippocrates of Cos (fifth century BCE) were particularly popular; a number of Hebrew translations and commentaries exist. The Braginsky Collection manuscript contains the rare Hebrew translation by Hillel ben Samuel of Verona (ca. 1220-ca. 1295). Unlike most other extant Hebrew translations, it is based on the Latin translation of Constantinus Africanus (ca. 1020–1087) rather than Arabic translations of the Greek original.
The text is accompanied by the commentary of Moses ben Isaac da Rieti (1388–after 1460). His father, Isaac ben Mordecai, or Maestro Gaio, is known to have been friendly with the translator Hillel ben Samuel, while the latter was in Rome. A renowned physician who worked in the Vatican during the pontificate of Pius II (1458–1464), Moses da Rieti served as the Chief Rabbi of Rome. He was also a poet. His commentary is based largely on the commentaries of Moses Maimonides (1138–1240) and on the renowned Greco-Roman medical author Galen of Pergamum (second century CE). Da Rieti’s commentary exists in two recensions. The Braginsky Collection manuscript represents the first, in which the commentaries of da Rieti are introduced as “the pupil said” and those of Maimonides as “the commentator said.” The dating of the manuscript to 1470 is based primarily on the identification of the watermarks in the paper.
A later inscription on folio 6v documents the doctorate of a Jewish physician in Rome in 1544: “I toiled and succeeded on the day on which the title of doctor was given to me, on 6 June 1544 . . . and with their questions and answers . . . the judges in Rome today allowed me to be a judge in medical sciences.”

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 60.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B133
Paper · 249 ff. · 24.9 x 18.8 cm · Modena, copied by a copyist named AR”I · 1615
Tefillah le-Moshe (Moses' Prayers; mystical intentions)

e-codices · 09/21/2016, 15:09:29
During the Middle Ages Spain was the Jewish world’s center of kabbalistic thought and practice. The classic kabbalistic text of the late thirteenth century, the Zohar (Book of Splendor), was written in Spain, where more controversial movements, such as Abraham Abulafia’s school of ecstatic kabbalah developed as well (see cat. no. 9). After the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century, the small city of Safed, Upper Galilee, soon became the new center of the kabbalistic movement; it was from there that Kabbalah conquered both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds.
The leading figures in Safed were Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (1522–1570) and his pupil Isaac ben Solomon Luria (1534–1572). One of the most important concepts among the kabbalists of Safed was that of mystical prayer. For them prayer was not, as Gershom Scholem wrote, “merely the institutionalized acknowledgment and praise of God as Creator and King by the religious community.” Rather, “the individual’s prayers . . . are under certain conditions the vehicle of the soul’s mystical ascent to God.” The central concept in this doctrine was that of kavvanah (mystical intention; plural, kavvanot). Tefillah le-Moshe contains kavvanot for weekdays and the Shabbat. Its text was published in Przemysl in 1862, based in part, perhaps, on this manuscript.
The round Hebrew cursive, semi-cursive, and square scripts used in the manuscript are enhanced by a variety of pen-work foliage designs. On the title page the scribe wrote “copied by the young and insignificant, worm and not a man, AR”I, in the city of Modena.” Ari is the Hebrew word for “lion,” but should be understood here as an abbreviation of the copyist’s name; it is also the nickname of Isaac Luria (see cat. no. 33). It is tempting to identify this copyist with the well-known writer Judah Aryeh (Leone) Modena (1571–1648), who was at the height of his activity in 1615. Although Leone Modena’s hand resembles that of the scribe of the Braginsky manuscript, the paleographical evidence for such an attribution is unconvincing, as was confirmed by Benjamin Richler.

A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 94.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B173
Parchment · 29 + 1 ff. · 12 x 8.5 cm · Vienna, [Aryeh ben Judah Leib] · 1716
Sefer Sod Adonai im Sharvit ha-Zahav (Book of the Lord’s Mystery with the [commentary] "Golden Scepter")

e-codices · 01/15/2015, 14:33:39
In 1712 an accomplished Moravian scribe in Vienna, Aryeh ben Judah Leib of Trebitsch, started what would soon become a second flowering of Hebrew manuscript decoration in Central and Northern Europe. Between 1712 and 1714 he copied a daily prayer book that is now in The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (MS 9340). At the bottom of a dedication page he signed his name: "The young Aryeh Judah Leib Sofer, son of the late Elhanan Katz, of blessed memory, who passed away on Friday, 28 Iyyar in the year 5468 [1708] in Jerusalem." Today some dozen manuscripts of his are known, among which at least five are daily prayer books.
Aryeh ben Judah Leib is the first recorded scribe to have written his manuscripts "with Amsterdam letters." Title pages of books printed outside of Amsterdam in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries often contained a statement that the books were printed with Amsterdam letters, as an indication of quality. Aryeh ben Judah Leib transposed this custom to manuscripts. As a number of his manuscripts contain images that were printed on parchment, he may have been involved in the printing industry, although there was no Hebrew printing in Vienna at the time.
On the basis of certain scribal features unique to him, this mohel book can be attributed to Aryeh ben Judah Leib with certainty. Its title page appropriately depicts a circumcision in a synagogue. The image inspired by the apocryphal book of Tobit on folio 2r, however, is highly unusual. It depicts Tobias, the son of Tobit, who is traveling with his guardian angel Raphael and a small dog. On his shoulder he carries a fish whose heart, liver, and gall he needs to cure his father’s blindness. Although quite well known in Christian art, the inclusion of this theme in a Hebrew circumcision book, or even in a Jewish object of art, is unexpected. The idea that Raphael was the guardian angel of children, prevalent especially among Catholics, seems likely to have been borrowed as an apt symbol of filial protection for this circumcision book. It seems likely that Aryeh ben Judah Leib took this image from an unknown Christian, perhaps printed, source.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 104.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B173
Parchment · 29 + 1 ff. · 12 x 8.5 cm · Vienna, [Aryeh ben Judah Leib] · 1716
Sefer Sod Adonai im Sharvit ha-Zahav (Book of the Lord’s Mystery with the [commentary] "Golden Scepter")

e-codices · 01/15/2015, 15:01:23
Der versierte Sofer (Schreiber) Arje ben Juda Leib aus Trebitsch (Ťřebíč) setzte den Anfang einer «Nachblüthe» (David Kaufmann) der Illustrierung hebräischer Handschriften in Mittel- und Nordeuropa im 18. Jahrhundert, und zwar mit einem zwischen 1712 und 1714 verfertigten täglichen Gebetbuch, das heute in der Bibliothek des Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (MS 9240) aufbewahrt wird. Auf einer Widmungsseite trug der Schreiber seinen Namen ein: «Der junge Arje Juda Leib Sofer, Sohn des verstorbenen Elchanan Katz, gesegnet sei sein Andenken, der an einem Freitag, dem 28. Ijjar des Jahres 5468 [1708], in Jerusalem verstarb». Gegenwärtig kennen wir einige Dutzend Handschriften aus seiner Produktion, wovon mindestens fünf zum Genre der täglichen Gebetbücher zählen.
Arje ben Juda Leib war auch der erste Sofer, der seine Werke nach dem Muster der Amsterdamer Drucktypen schrieb. Damit stand er am Anfang der Mode be-otijjot Amsterdam, der «mit den Buchstaben von Amsterdam» verfertigten Handschriften. Auch die Titelseiten zeitgenössischer hebräischer Druckausgaben heben häufig den Hinweis auf die Amsterdamer Druckbuchstaben hervor, womit auf die hohe Druckqualität dieser Bücher hingewiesen werden sollte. Da mehrere von Arje ben Juda Leibs Handschriften auch auf Pergament gedruckte Kupferstiche enthalten, wäre zu prüfen, ob er nicht selbst in irgendeiner Form mit dem Druckgewerbe verbunden war, obwohl es eine hebräische Druckerei zu seiner Zeit in Wien noch nicht gegeben hatte. Aufgrund von Kriterien des Stils und der Schrift kann das vorliegende Mohelbuch (Beschneidungsbuch) Arje ben Juda Leib mit Sicherheit zugeschrieben werden.
Die Titelseite zeigt eine wohl in einer Synagoge stattfindende Szene, in der drei jüdische Männer mit ihren dicken Büchern inmitten einer Diskussion dargestellt sind. Bemerkenswerterweise sind dabei auch Frauen anwesend. Höchst ungewöhnlich ist ferner die Illustration zum apokryphen Buch Tobias auf fol. 2r. Sie zeigt den Erzengel Rafael mit dem jungen Tobias, der einen Fisch nach Hause bringt, um mit dessen Herz, Leber und Galle seinen blinden Vater zu heilen. Dieses Motiv des Schutzengels für Kinder ist sonst nur aus der christlichen Kunst bekannt. Möglicherweise verwendete der Künstler eine katholische, jedoch noch nicht identifizierte Vorlage, um damit die Schutzfunktion der Beschneidung für den jüdischen Knaben bildlich hervorzuheben. Im jüdischen Kontext gehört Rafael zu den drei Engeln, die Abraham besuchen, und sein Name bedeutet «Gott heilt».

Aus: Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, Hrsg. von Emile Schrijver und Falk Wiesemann, Zürich 2011, S. 40.
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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B217
Parchment · 24 ff. · 9.5 x 5.2 cm · Deutschkreutz · 1751
Seder Birkat ha-Mazon (Grace after Meals and other prayers and blessings)

e-codices · 11/27/2014, 17:08:47
In addition to Birkat ha-Mazon (Grace after Meals) this manuscript contains Birkhot ha-Nehenin (Blessings over Enjoyments), Shalosh Mitzvot Nashim (Three Commandments for Women), and a Seder Keri’at Shema al ha-Mittah (Reading of the Shema before retiring at night). This combination of blessings and prayers was common during the eighteenth century. The inclusion of the three commandments incumbent upon women, hallah (the obligation to separate dough), niddah (the obligation to immerse in a ritual bath), and hadlakah (the obligation to kindle Shabbat and Festival lights), indicates that the book was done for a woman, perhaps as a wedding present.
The manuscript contains an architectural title page with Moses and Aaron, twenty-two smaller, color illustrations for the various blessings, which often rely on Christian iconographic sources, and three decorated initial word panels. Seen here are seven miniatures belonging to the Birkhot ha-Nehenin: the blessing over spices (alluded to by the image of a pharmacy), blessings upon seeing lightning, upon hearing thunder, upon seeing a rainbow, upon seeing a king, upon seeing different-looking people (depicted here as a dark-skinned man and a dwarf), and upon seeing the ocean.
In Hebrew the name of the town appearing on the title page reads: Tzilem Adam, a name often used to refer to the eastern Austrian town of Deutschkreutz. The Hebrew word for “cross” is tzelem, which can also mean “image.” This is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:27: “in the image of God He created him,” where the word refers to Adam. In the Braginsky manuscript the problematic geographical name Deutschkreutz is translated with words that can be understood as “Image of Man.” The Hebrew name is also misspelled, to further distance any identification with the Christian symbol.
Although the manuscript is not signed, it may be attributed to the well-known scribe-artist Aaron Wolf Herlingen (see cat. nos. 39 and 48). This attribution rests on an analysis of certain scribal and artistic characteristics of this manuscript and on the similarity between this work and a number of signed manuscripts by him with similar content and decoration. This would prove that Aaron Wolf Herlingen worked not only in Vienna and Pressburg, but also in Deutschkreutz.

From: A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books, hrsg. E. M. Cohen, S. L. Mintz, E. G. L. Schrijver, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 132.
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