Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Our local Jerusalem supermarket has been selling Rosh ha-Shanah vegetables, under their traditional names. I'm never sure exactly what they are. They include gourds called Kara. I have no idea whether they are worth trying. Anyone know?

Medieval Jewish Studies Online has finally shown a sign of life, with some new material on the fascinating medieval French exegete, R. Yosef Kara. A critical edition of his commentary on the books of Yoel, Ovadiah and Yonah is now available, as well as a short introduction to the project. The introduction seems to indicate an important shift in the thinking of the leader of the project. While at first she writes:
Our first investigations conducted at the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jerusalem, led us to suspect that it will not necessarily be possible to distinguish between Qara’s and Rashi’s commentaries in the sense of a literature by two clearly distinct authors, as has been assumed until now.

the actual meeting with the manuscripts led her to a different conclusion:
Having worked on the edition and translation of the text for the last two years, our first and probably most important result is that the commentary on the Minor Prophets (Tere Asar) reveals a stable and consistent textual tradition and does not show any sign of fluctual transmission.

A testimony to an open mind and the value of manuscript research!

Friday, September 25, 2009


I openly confess that I'm not interested in yet more discussions of ritual murder (or martyrdom). But this kind of scholarly cooperation is really impressive and exciting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Conference marking 820th anniversary of the burning of the Jews in York Castle.


A nice roundup of online resources for the Tosefta, as well as a nice English translation of the text and a fascinating blog, can all be found at Tosefta Online.

A new book about the medieval Jewish community of Portugal.

Gmar tov.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Young academics online

Today I became aware of the websites of two Talmudists. They have both taken the laudable step of placing their academic publications online, freely available to the wider public.

Jonathan Milgram is an assistant professor of Talmud at JTS. He wrote his doctorate at Bar Ilan University under Shamma Friedman, on Bavli Bekhorot. The synopsis from his dissertation, as well as an article with part of his commentary on the section he studied, is on the site.

Yachin Epstein teaches, I believe, in the Open University in Israel, and before that was a ram at the late and lamented Yeshivat ha-Kibbutz ha-Dati - Ein Tsurim. He wrote his MA on a chapter of Bavli Yoma, and the thesis is on the site. His dissertation, on Kallah Rabbati, written under the guidance of Robert Brody, will go up soon. Another item of interest is a high school paper written by his sister, on their grandfather Prof Jacob Nahum Epstein.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A sad story from an institution I love


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sefer Hassidim

Looks like the Princeton website on Sefer Hassidim is up and running. It requires registration, which I just applied for, so I haven't seen the site on the inside yet. I wonder about the significance of textual variants among manuscripts of SH (and in general about the value of collecting variants on a large scale for works without a complicated textual history). My impression is that, while they may contain a range of different passages, the variants for a single passage are not usually large. But that's just a vague impression based on the Parma ms compared to the Bologna edition, and I may be completely wrong. Hopefully the database will give an answer.