Friday, February 26, 2010

Publishing magic

An autograph manuscript by R Hayyim Vital, with his notes on practical magic, has attracted a fair amount of scholarly attention in the past decades. Several lengthy studies have appeared in Hebrew, and at least one in English (Gerrit Bos, 'Hayyim Vital's Practical Kabbalah and Alchemy: a 17th century Book of Secrets', Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 4 (1995), pp. 55-112).

Now, someone (the editor's name is not mentioned in the volume, as far as I can tell) has published as much of the manuscript as is extant today. Titled Sefer ha-Pe'ulot, it includes indices and an introduction, but virtually no notes to the text.

What I found fascinating was the following proviso, at the beginning of the book:
ספר זה נועד לעיון בלבד ולא לשימוש מעשי. והעושה מפעולותיו, על דעתו ובאחריותו הוא עושה. שומר נפשו וגופו ירחק מלעשותן והיה שלום.
This book is meant purely for research, and not for practical use. Anyone who follows its instructions, does so on his own responsibility. Whoever care about their soul or body will stay away from performing them and shall be at peace.

Not something you normally see in magic studies.
For more details, email the editor at hapeulot -at- gmail.com

Monday, February 15, 2010


Friday, February 12, 2010

Fragments at Yale

The Yale Law Library has launched an exhibition of medieval manuscript fragments. Most are Latin, but there is a page from an Ashkenazic mahzor, and a fragment of Mishneh Torah.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Manuscript edition posted online

Emese Kozma, who wrote her MA on Haside Ashkenaz, has posted her editions of two unpublished Halakhic works by R Eleazar Roekah on the IMHM blog. Her editions are very focused, with her footnotes providing only references of immediate significance (source references, etc.). For a more expansive approach to one of the same texts, see the recent doctoral dissertation of Roye Zak, An exploration of the Halakhic methology of Rabbi Elazar b. R. Yehuda of Worms : the laws of Issur ve’Heter, PhD dissertation, Bar Ilan University, 2008.