Documents: 71, displayed: 1 - 20

Sub-project: Braginsky collection on e-codices

Start: December 2014

Status: In progress

Financed by: René and Susanne Braginsky Foundation

Description: The collection of Hebrew manuscripts of the Zurich collector René Braginsky is generally considered to be one of the largest private collections of Hebrew manuscripts in the world. It also contains a fair number of fine early printed books. The collection does not only contain codices from before and after the invention of printing, but also several hundred illuminated marriage contracts and Esther scrolls. In 2009, some hundred highlights from the collection were curated into a traveling exhibition, which was shown in Amsterdam, New York, Jerusalem, Zurich, and Berlin. Since 2014 e-codices is making documents of the collection online available. The project is generously supported by the René and Susanne Braginsky Foundation.

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B26
Parchment · 271 ff. · 18 x 12.2 cm · [Portugal, copied by a scribe named Moses or Aaron (?)] · [last quarter of the fifteenth century]
Pentateuch and Haftarot

This manuscript contains the full text of the Pentateuch and haftarot (weekly readings from the Prophets). The manuscript has six illuminated initial word panels found at the beginning of each of the books of the Pentateuch and at the heading of the haftarot. The semi-cursive Sephardic Hebrewscript and other codicological features of this manuscript point toward a Sephardic origin from the second half of the fifteenth century. It is likely that the Braginsky Pentateuch was the work of an artist who was active in the Lisbon School, which is known for producing around 30 distinctive manuscripts characterized by their largely non-figurative decoration: filigree initial word panels, floral and abstract pen work in purple ink, and multicolored dots and flowers. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B28
Parchment · 43 ff. · 10.6 x 7.6 cm · Amsterdam, Baruch ben Schemaria · 1795
Sefirat ha-Omer ("Counting of the Omer") and other prayers

The "Counting of the Omer" is the ritual counting of the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. In this manuscript, these days and their corresponding numbers, are inscribed in 49 quatrefoils. F. 18r shows a menorah with the seven verses of Psalm 67 inscribed in microsript on the seven arms of the candelabrum. The scribe Baruch ben Shemaria from Brest-Litovsk (Belarus) created this manuscript in Amsterdam in 1795 for Aaron ben Abraham Prinz, of Alkmaar in the Netherlands, as noted on the title page. The drawing on f. 1r, a page of calligraphic decoration, depicts the giant Samson as Atlas, since, according to rabbinical tradition, he was endowed with superhuman strength. (red)

Online Since: 12/18/2014

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B45
Paper · 280 ff. · 21.5 x 15.5 cm · Hebron (The Land of Israel), Solomon Adeni · before 1611
Solomon Adeni, Melekhet Shelomo ("the commentaries on the Mishnah by Solomon")

Shelomo bar Joshua Adeni (1567-1625) was a Jewish scholar who devoted himself primarily to the study of the Mishnah (the first major written redaction of the Oral Torah). According to tradition, he spent three decades working on his commentary, writing his own thoughts and remarks in the margins next to and around the text of his printed edition of the complete Mishnah. His notes became so crowded that he himself had difficulty deciphering them, whereupon a patron enabled him to rewrite his collection of thoughts into a coherent work; the result is this Mishnah commentary. The Mishnah consists of six orders; this text is a commentary on the first part, the Zera’im ("Seeds"), pertaining to blessings, prayers and laws related to agriculture. The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York holds a corresponding commentary on the sixth order of the Mishnah, the Tohorot ("Purities") (MS Rab33). It is dated 1611, so we can assume that our manuscript was written earlier. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B49
Parchment · 197 ff. · 12.5 x 8.8 cm · [Italy] copied by Samson ben Elijah Halfan · [ca. 1500]
Minhag Roma (Daily Prayer Book According to the Italian Rite)

The Roman rite, generally known as Minhag Roma, is the oldest order of prayer outside the ancient lands of Israel and Babylonia, retaining many old Palestinian traditions. The ornamentation of this manuscript includes many attractive initial word panels, decorated with geometric designs and floral pen work, usually in red and blue ink. The illuminated opening page contains the initial word Ribbon (Master [of all Worlds]), which is set within a rectangular panel with red and blue filigree pen work and gold-leaf letters. In the bottom border there is an unidentified family emblem depicting a rampant lion. The manuscript was copied by Samson ben Eljah Halfan, a member of the Halfan family of scribes and scholars, whose ancestors were among a group of Jews who were expelled from France in 1394 and found refuge in Piedmont, in northern Italy. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B52
Parchment · 20 ff. · 11.5 x 8 cm · Hamburg, Uri Fayvesh ben Isaac Segal · 1750
Seder Tikkun ha-Mohel ("Prayers for the circumsicion ceremony")

This codex contains prayers for the circumcision ceremony. The ceremony, depicted on f. 10r, takes place in a synagogue. The prophet Elijah, who will come in order to announce the advent of the Messiah, is considered to be present at the ceremony. An illustration on f. 18r depicts the blessing over wine. The decoration is the work of the illustrator Uri Fayvesh ben Isaac Segal, who was a prominent representative of the so-called Hamburg-Altona school for the production of 18th-century illuminated manuscripts, and who, according to current research, produced at least five more manuscripts in addition to this one. The title page bears the name of the owner, Joseph ben Samuel, as well as a not yet identified coat of arms with the Order of the Elephant, the highest order of the Royal House of Denmark. (red)

Online Since: 12/18/2014

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B57
Paper · 223 ff. · 20.6 x 15 cm · Ungarisch Brod (Moravia) · between 1673 and 1683
Daily Prayer Book According to the Sephardic Rite

Apart from the daily prayers, this manuscript also contains kabbalistic commentaries and kavvanot (mystical intentions). In the kabbalistic school of Safed (Upper Galilee), the mystical aspect of prayer, as “the vehicle of the soul's mystical ascent to God,” is of great importance. The authorship of this prayer books is generally attributed to Isaac ben Solomon Luria (1534–1572). The manuscript begins with an unfinished title page that contains a decorative floral border in red, yellow and green, but without any text. In the ornamental colorful border there is the inscription “Samuel ha-Kohen, cantor in Broda,” who is either the copyist or perhaps the person for whom the book was written. The manuscript was a part of the collection of Naphtali Herz van Biema (1836-1901), an Amsterdam collector, whose books were auctioned in 1904. Many of these books had previously belonged to his wife's family of prominent orthodox philanthropists and bibliophiles known as the Amsterdam Lehren family. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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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)

In 1728 Meir Cohen Belinfante copied this decorated psalter from the 1670 printed edition by the Amsterdam printer of Hebrew and Spanish books, David de Castro Tartas, who was active between 1662 and 1698. The manuscript has a decorated title page, which depicts David, the psalmist, and Aaron, making a clear reference to the first name of the patron, whereas the bottom part of this page portrays a scene of the biblical Joseph, making a correlation with the patron's father, also named Joseph. All decorations, including the title page, were executed in brown ink similar to the text ink. 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 Aaron de Joseph de Pinto, from whom the manuscript takes its name. (red)

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

This codex contains prayers, blessings and poems for a wedding ceremony, following the custom of the Jews of the island 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, such as Elieser de Mordo. This manuscript is of great significance due to a cycle of sixty full-page illustrations from the Book of Genesis, executed in gouache. The illustrations are accompanied by Hebrew inscriptions, usually biblical verses identifying the scenes. They are the work of an artist, probably trained in Venice, who added his monogram in different variants (MC or M.C. MF.) to almost all of the illustrations. The left to right sequence of the pages suggests that a Christian artist must have first created the illustrations, and that the Hebrew texts were added afterwards. This manuscript from the first half of the 18th century, created on the island of Corfu, may have been a bridal gift from a member of the de Mordo family, a family which played an important role on the island at a time when the Venetian rule had to be defended against Ottoman attacks. (red)

Online Since: 12/18/2014

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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

This collection of cosmological treatises contains excerpts from a larger manuscript, presumably written by the same scribe Moses, which now is part of the Schoenberg Collection at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (ljs 057). The manuscript contains tables on lunar motion by Jacob ben David Jomtow (Bonjorn); three astrological works by Abraham ibn Ezra (1089 - about 1164): a fragment of Reshit Hokhman ("Beginning of Wisdom"), the larger part of Mischpetei ha-Mazzalaot ("Judgments of the Constellations") and the larger part of Sefer ha-Olam ("Book of the World"); and, as the last part the Sefer ha-Mivharim le-Batlamyus, i.e. Ptolemy’s "Almagest". On f. 15r and f. 15v there are three images of constellations from classical antiquity: Orion (Ha-Gibbor ba-Te’omim, "the hero of twins") in bare feet and with a scimitar (f. 15r), Eridanus (Ha-Nahar, "river") and Lepus (Ha-Arnevet, "hare") (f. 15v). The imagery is based on the Arabic "Book of Fixed Stars", written in 964 by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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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)

The manuscript contains the homiletical commentary on the Pentateuch written by the greatest Yemenite Jewish poet 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. Shlomo Zuker, on the basis of careful comparison with a number of other signed manuscripts, notably two manuscripts in the National Library of Israel, a Mishneh Torah fragment (Heb. Ms. 8° 6570) and a Tikhal of 1677 (Yah. Heb. 152), identified this Braginsky manuscript as an autograph of Shabazi. The text of this manuscript, containing the commentary on Genesis 37-Deuteronomy 31, differs from other known versions of the commentary. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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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")

This manuscript contains one of the four autographs of Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, known as the Vilna Gaon ("exceptional Talmud Scholar") (1720–1797). He was revered during his lifetime already and is considered the most important scholar among Lithuanian Ashkenazi Jews; his teaching influences Judaism up to today. This autograph comments on a passage of the Zohar, the classic work of Jewish mysticism. The comments from this manuscript were printed in the 19th century, carefully reproducing even the marginal notes and corrections in this manuscript. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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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")

This commentary by Bezalel Ranschburg (1762-1820), an important rabbi in the Jewish community of Prague, treats two difficult Talmud tractates: Horayot and Niddah; several passages from the commentary were printed as marginal glosses in the standard edition of the Talmud. Ranschburg was also the author of Responsa ("rabbinic answers") and other commentaries, now lost. This manuscript contains the imprimatur of the censor at the time, Carolus Fischer (1775-1844), as required in the 18th and early 19th century Austro-Hungarian Empire for printing Hebrew books. Despite the imprimatur of Fischer, a Christian who defended Hebrew language and literature against Christian detractors, this manuscript was first printed only in 1957. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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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)

Isaac of Corbeil († 1280) is the author of this halakhic Small Book of Commandments also known as Sefer Mitzvot Katan (abbreviated SeMaK). This abridged version of the 613 positive and negative biblical commandments, and a few additional rabbinic ones, has been divided into seven daily sections to be read sequentially and completed once a week. After becoming popular in France, the SeMaK quickly reached Germany, where it was recognized as an authoritative halakhic work. This manuscript, B115, is the latest of the three manuscripts in the Braginsky Collection (also B240 and B182), exemplifying the complex diffusion of the SeMaK in Germany. The glosses are the work of Moses of Zurich, who lived in Zurich in the middle of the fourteenth century. Consequently, manuscripts containing Moses' glosses are called the Zürcher. 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 sources of these glosses, scribes frequently created difficulties in determining authorship of the commentaries. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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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

The importance of the Braginsky Pentateuch 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. The Braginsky manuscript was copied in Spain, most likely in the second half of the fourteenth century, based on what was considered the original Hillel Codex. No trace of an original Hillel Codex has survived; it may have been used for the last time for a Pentateuch edition of Guadalajara, Spain, shortly before 1492. In truth, it is not clear whether the Hillel Codex ever existed, or whether it was a legend known from secondary sources. The manuscript is still bound in an old blind-tooled leather binding with (later?) brass ornamentation and clasps. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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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")

This manuscript by Jacob ben Asher (son of the rabbi and codifier Asher ben Jehiel) contains one of the oldest copies of the Jewish code Arba’ah Turim. The entire work treats all rules of Jewish law concerning prayers and the synagog. This manuscript contains only the first of four parts. The main text is surrounded by many glosses and commentaries; noteworthy is an autograph note by the influential 15th century German rabbi Jacob Weil in Slavic. The manuscript offers variant readings to the standard editions and contains some otherwise unknown Responsa ("rabbinic answers") by the important Rabbi Israel Isserlin (1390-1460). (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B125
Paper · 111 ff. · 18.8 x 13.3 cm · [Italy] · [around 1470]
Hippocrates, Aphorisms

This manuscript contains the seven chapters of the aphorisms of Hippocrates in the Hebrew translation of Hillel ben Samuel of Verona (ca. 1220 – ca. 1295); in contrast to other extant translations, it is based on the Latin translation of Constantinus Africanus († before 1098/99) rather than on the Arabic translation from the Greek. The translation is accompanied by the commentary of Moses ben Isaac da Rieti (1388 - after 1460), Chief Rabbi of Rome and poet. His commentary is based largely on the commentaries of Moses Maimonides (1138 - 1240) and of Galen of Pergamum (second century AD). This manuscript preserves the first of two well-known versions of the commentary. The dating is based on the identification of the watermark in the paper. (red)

Online Since: 12/18/2014

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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)

The author of the text of this manuscript, Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (1522-1570), was considered one of the leading figures of the kabbalistic movement in the city of Safed (Upper Galilee), which became the new center of the kabbalistic movement after the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. One of the most important concepts among the kabbalists of Safed was that of mystical prayer, whilst the central concept in this doctrine was that of kavvanah (mystical intention; plural, kavvanot). The Tefillah le-Moshe (Moses' Prayers) contains kavvanot for weekdays and the Shabbat. 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 referred to himself as “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, perhaps the well-known writer Juday Aryeh (Leone) Modena (1571-1648). (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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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")

The titel of this mohel book (circumcision book) from 1716 is Book of the Lord’s Mystery with the [commentary] "Golden Scepter"; based on the style and script of the scribe (Sofer), it can be attributed to Aryeh ben Judah Leib of Trebitsch (Moravia), who was active in Vienna. The manuscript contains several illustrations of various scenes: among others on the title page there is a depiction of a group of people in a synagog engaged in a discussion. It is noteworthy that not only men, but also women are present. The second folio shows the archangel Raphael with the young Tobias, who is carrying home a fish to cure his father’s blindness. The archangel Raphael as guardian angel of children is a motif that usually occurs only in Christian art. Aryeh ben Judah Leib might have used an unknown Catholic model in order to better illustrate the protective function of circumcision for Jewish boys. In his writing, Aryeh ben Judah was guided by Amsterdam letters and thus initiated the fashion of be-otijjot Amsterdam ("with Amsterdam letters"), producing manuscripts with Amsterdam (print) fonts. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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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)

In addition to the Seder Birkat ha-Mazon ("Grace after Meals"), this mid-18th century manuscript contains the Birkhot ha-Nehenin ("Blessings over Enjoyments"), the Shalosh Mitzvot Nashim ("Three Commandments for Women") and the Seder Keri’at Shema al ha-Mittah ("Reading of the Shema before retiring at night"). The passages relating to the three commandments imposed on women indicate that the book was meant as a bridal gift. Besides the image on the front page, the book contains 22 smaller colored illustrations. A Hebrew phrase on the the title page refers to the place of origin, Deutschkreutz in Burgenland (Austria). Based on stylistic characteristics of the script and decoration, the manuscript can be attributed to the scribe and illustrator Aaron Wolf Herlingen. (red)

Online Since: 12/18/2014

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B222
Parchment · 129 ff. · 12 x 8.1 cm · [Vienna/Amsterdam?] copied and decorated by Moses Judah Leib ben Wolf Broda of Trebitsch · 1723
Tehillim (Psalms)

The psalms in this manuscript are subdivided according to the days of the week on which they are to be read and, with exception of the psalms for Friday, these daily sections have decorated monochrome or multicolored initial word panels. The manuscript has an architectural title page representing Moses and Aaron standing in arches. Particularly impressive is the picture at the beginning of the first Psalm where, following the initial word ashre, on folio 6v is a depiction of King David sitting outside on the terrace of a palace, playing the harp while looking at an open volume, which most probably represents his psalms. This Braginsky manuscript has been copied and decorated by Moses Judah Leib ben Wolf Broda of Trebitsch, who is also responsible for perhaps the most famous decorated Hebrew manuscript of the eighteenth century – the Von Geldern Haggadah of 1723. Including this Braginsky psalter, a total of seven manuscripts by Moses Judah Leib are known, produced between 1713-1723. The brown mottled calf binding carries the emblem of the De Pinto family of Amsterdam tooled in gold on both the front and the back covers. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

Documents: 71, displayed: 1 - 20