Some new books
Raz-Krakotzkin's book contains a section on Domenico Gerosolimitano's book, Sefer ha-Ziquq. This book, actually an index, was compiled by one of the main censors, and a converted Jew. It lists the problematic passages in hundreds of Hebrew books which he recommended be censored, and sometimes replaced with less offensive terms. The index was recently published in a dissertation by Gila Prebor. It is fascinating to see which passages were considered anti-Christian, and which books got off scot free.
In the field of rabbinics, I became aware of two books this week. One was published a year ago, but I only became aware of it this week. The other I heard about yesterday for the first time (though there were rumours), but have not laid eyes on yet.
The first is a text called Iggeret Ha-Te'amim. It is a halachic work, apparently written in Zaragoza somewhere in the fifteenth century (the manuscript, Oxford Neu. 890, has watermarks from the late 15th/early 16th century). This edition was published by Nissim Mizrahi in Neveh Daniel 2005, on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah of his son, Amichai. It is described, both in this publication and in the catalogue of the IMHM, as an abridgement of Abudarham. However, in the introduction, the author describes a manuscript he had access to, an autograph copy of Toldot Adam ve-Hava by R Yeruham. It seems clear to me that he is explaining about one of the souces he used in compiling his work. But R Mizrahi (who should be well known to anyone who spent time in Alon Shevut) understands this to mean that he is simply notifying us that, elsewhere, he copied out R Yeruham's book, and it has no relevance to the book at hand. The quote is as follows:
אמר המאסף - יען דברי רבי' ירוחם בעיני נכשרים, שהן ברורים ובדעות מגדולי המורים ובמראי מקום נזכרים, ומצאתי אדם וחוה מכתיבת ידו, והעתקתיו
Be that as it may, I noticed something interesting at the very end of the publication. In the section on engagement and marriage, he says:
הטעם שנהגו להמתין לישא אשה עד מילוי הירח, לפי שהוא סימן טוב לישראל, ואין
בזה משום לא תנחשו ולא תעוננו. כי הירח והשכינה שבה שלנו היא.
The reason it is customary to wait with the wedding until the moon is full,
is because it is a portentuous sign for Israel. And there is no issue of "Neither shall ye practise
divination nor soothsaying", because the moon and the Shechinah within it is
I'm not sure exactly what that means. Anyone ever heard of the Shechinah in the moon? But it is definitely cool.
The other book, which Simcha Emanuel mentioned in class yesterday, is a new edition of the entire Sefer Avi Ha-Ezri by R Eliezer ben Yoel HaLevi of Bonn (Ra'avya). The first three volumes of this monumental work of Ashkenazic halacha were edited by Victor Aptowitzer. The fourth was done by the Harry Fischel Institute. And the last four volumes were published by R David Deblitzky. That same rabbi has now gone back and republished the entire book, based on a new reading of the manuscripts. Meanwhile, last year, the Fischel Institute published their own edition of one of the volumes that he had published a few years ago.
If I get to see the book itself, I'll try to tell you more.