Sunday, May 21, 2006

Geneva Genizah

My father scanned me this article from Friday's HaAretz about a trove of Genizah fragments that were found by accident in Geneva. Sounds interesting - apparently there are fragments of Talmudic and Geonic works. I'm trying to find out more information.

Update: Apparently the fragments have been in Geneva for more than a century, but no-one noticed them until just a few months ago. They were bought from a papyrologist who visited Cairo in 1896. The contents have not yet been properly reproduced, but Prof. Rosenthal says that there are some significant finds there, including Geonic responsa. The page showed in the newspaper is apparently liturgical, with words from the wedding ritual in it, but its nature is still unclear.

As noted by DafKesher, David Rosenthal published a piece in the literary supplement of Ha-Aretz about the Geneva fragments, which is supposed to be the first of a series. As he mentions, Prof. Sussman was on his way to see the fragments when he became sick. The title of the article is based on a blessing over wine discussed by Naftali Weider in Sinai 20 (1957), pp. 43-48. The blessing is discussed in a Geonic responsum which was known from different sources, but has now been found in full.

He also describes a Massoretic work written by "Rabbi Shmuel, from the mouth of my teacher and master, Moshe ben David ben Yaakov ben Naftali" - this being Ben Naftali of massoretic fame.

Further update: as noted by anonymous, Rosenthal published the second installment of his review. With a photo of a palimpsest (Yahalom and Sokoloff published an article in the 70s about the twenty or so known palimpests in the Genizah, all of which were Jewish texts written over earlier Greek texts, and several of them, like the Geneva one, were Greek biblical translations. Danzig found a palimpsest where both texts are Jewish) and a get from 1148.


Blogger Shai said...


ואני עוד מנוי על הארץ ולא הבחנתי בכתבה...

תודה שפרסמת את זה, ואם יש לך עוד פרטים - אנא פרסמם!

9:02 AM  
Blogger Menachem Mendel said...

Thanks for the post. I wonder if it got their independently or was once part of one of the larger genizah collections. It makes you wonder what else might be out there.

2:27 AM  
Blogger DafKesher said...

Rosental wrote the lead piece in Haaretz's Literary Suppliment this week - it is, however, in Hebrew.

The piece last week, and this week, say that the collection is independant of Schechter's collections - i.e. T-S, Oxford, ENA and others.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Menachem Mendel said...

The entire blessing, Birkat Yayyin Assis, can be found online here. Weider's article is also reprinted in his collected articles התגבשות נוסח התפילה במזרח ובמערב.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous andy said...

I trust that you will let us know when Rosenthal's piece is continued. Many thanks.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The next part has just come out in Haaretz, here is the link:

BUT I MUST WARN all of the readers there is a serious problem with this article and the first one. I will be short and concise He is discussing material that nobody can see and is quoting a catalogue by Zussman that nobody apart from him and a few others have access to. I am soory I keep being reminded of Popper's saying - a theory that cannot be checked and therefore refuted is not a scientific theory.

I therefore call all of the Judaica enthusiasts to ignore this literature until it is opened to the public. [we are waiting more than 40 yrs for this]
Maybe Manuscript boy can dedicate a blog to what I have just written and tell us his opinion]

2:48 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

anonymous- I just tried that link and it didn't work. Are you sure you copied it correctly?

9:31 PM  
Blogger DafKesher said...

The Sussman Catalog is being completed as we speak and will be published soon. Also, anyone who wants access to the catalog can send an e-mail. One does not have to be so uptight about these things.
The geniza photographs will be at the national library in Jerusalem, on CD, soon - if they're not there already.

Also, these allegations/complaints would, I think, warrant a real name behind them.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was happy to read Dafkesher's response and here is my reaction:

1. I would be very happy if anybody can provide the magical e-mail which will supply us with access to the Geniza Fragments in the Sussman catalogue.

2. I participated in the World Congress [Some 10 MONTHS AGO] and heard that the cataloguewill be published soon - unfortunately it has not been published and apparently they have now employed Yaakov Shweika a computer specialist sinc ethey cannot overcome the data - a fact that will prolong the publication foe a few more years.

3.I am uptight about this since most research put into this catalogue has been done through public funds, but and this is a BIG BUT - only a favoured few have access to the material - I am sorry but this is unfair and unscholarly.

4. I don not see a difference between calling myself Anonymous or giving myself a psuedonym - but for Dafkesher's sake I shall call myself - Anonymous PLO.

5. Lastly - I implore Manuscript boy to dedicate a listing to this question and to tell desperate people like myself - what we can do till the infamous catalogue is published. - e.g: HOW can I get all the Geniza fragments of a certain chapter of Mishna?

Thankyou again for all the patient readers and I welcome new comments into this Sugya.
Anonymous PLO

2:48 PM  
Blogger manuscriptboy said...

Anonymous - thank you for choosing an appelation for yourself. As for the catalogue - it is definitely frustrating, and more open commmunication would do the field a lot of good. And I don't deny that personal vendettas and jealousies played a part in the delay. But I know the people working on the catalogue, and they are truly working hard to finish it. They already made several important Talmud mss available online at the JNUL. And, when finished, it will be quite impressive. To get an idea of what it will look like, check out Menahem Kahana's catalogue (and subsequent transcription) of the mss of Midrash Halakha.

5:13 PM  

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