Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fragment of the Month

As noted by Paleojudaica, the Taylor Schechter Genizah Unit in Cambridge has launched a new feature, focusing on a different fragment every month. This month, they highlight a watermark they discovered in a fragment of the Book of Tobit. I'm a little confused, though, because my impression was that Oriental watermarks have barely been catalogued, so the possibility of finding a mark that matches this one is very low.

Last month, they showcased a palimpsest, where the newer text is Masoretic, and the lower text is a Latin sermon by Augustine. They note that "Christian texts do find their way into the Collection, however, often as the undertext of palimpsests". For a fascinating study of Christian texts that found their way into the Genizah without being recycled, having been written in Hebrew characters, see the recent article by Kristina Szilagyi, 'Christian Books in Jewish Libraries: Fragments of Christian Arabic Writings from the Cairo Genizah', Ginzei Qedem 2 (2006), 107-162.

The first fragment shown was the tail end of a responsum by Maimonides, later re-used by someone who scribbled some prayers around it. Not the attitude you would expect towards an autograph of the Rambam.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Talmud manuscript online

A page from British Library MS. Add. 25717 (cat. no. 402), which contains Bekhorot, Arakhin and Keritut.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rav Shagar zekher tsadik li-vrakhah

Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, head of the Siach Yitzhak yeshiva and one of the most creative minds in contemporary Judaism, died today.

I only heard him speak a few times - he was never allowed to teach at the yeshiva I attended - but my two brothers studied at his yeshiva for a while, and my wife learned Hassidut from him at Midreshet Lindenbaum. I think it's fair to say he was the only rosh yeshiva to seriously consider himself post-modern.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Shavua ha-Sefer

The Hebrew Book Fair is taking place in Israel now. I'm not there, so I don't know much about it, but I'm getting some reports. I just looked at the Machon Yerushalayim catalogue for the fair, and noticed that they are offering - though it isn't actually available yet - the first part of a new edition of Shut ha-Rif, the responsa of R. Isaac Alfasi. Widely known for his Halakhot Rabbati, Alfasi also penned many responsa. Some of them have been published in different editions, and others remain unpublished. Machon Ofeq announced two years ago that they were about to publish a new edition, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. I don't know anything about this new edition, but I hope that 1) it actually does turn up, and 2) that it contains new material.

Some new things

I've been very busy, and so I didn't blog about a few things I was planning to write about. Like this highly enjoyable workshop on the Genizah.

JNUL is going to launch tomorrow a digitised version of the Nurnberg Mahzor. I don't know much about it, other than that it was in Nurnberg itself until after World War II, when Zalman Schocken convinced the city to give it to him as compensation. Recently it was sold - apparently to Dr. David and Yemima Jesselson. By the way, Jesselson also recently acquired a stone with a Hebrew prophecy from Herodian times. It was published in Kathedra 123.
Anyway, the Nurnberg Mahzor is a famous illuminated manuscript and it will now be online, like the Worms Mahzor.

UPDATE: The website is here. It includes some descriptions of the manuscript, with a new Hebrew translation of Ziemlich's German article from 1886 (unfortunately, there is a spelling mistake in the second word of the article!).

Shulamit Elitsur just published a new book. The title is Lamah Tsamnu, and it contains a critical edition of Megillat Taanit Batra. The publisher is the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, but it isn't on their website yet.

UPDATE: My mistake. Her book was published by the World Union of Jewish Studies and is distributed by Magness Press.

Daniel Sperber also has a new book, on women's Torah reading.