Monday, May 31, 2010


This Thursday, the Yedidyah-Kibbutz Dati evening Beit Midrash is hosting an evening on Halakhah and physical disability. This is to launch a new book of responsa by Rabbi Shaul Anvari relating to the halakhic ramifications of physical disabilities.
I thought to mention that recently I was studying a manuscript responsum from the 14th century on the question of whether a blind person could be called up to read from the Torah. The respondent considered the question ridiculous - if he is blind, how can he read? I was surprised to find an extremely long list of rabbis throughout the centuries who have taken the opposite position. I assume this has much to do with the question of whether the 'oleh' reads from the Torah personally, or has the Torah read for him by the reader.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vatican 66

The Jewish Museum in London is launching an exhibition of Jewish manuscripts, including what is truly one of the most precious Hebrew manuscripts in existence - MS Vatican ebr. 66 of the Sifra. it's enough to give you this line from the Vatican catalogue: ', late 9th-mid 10th century'.

A short bibliography:
Louis Finkelstein, Sifra, or Torah Kohanim, according to Codex Assemani LXVI, New York 1956.
Shlomo Naeh, Leshon ha-Tannaim ba-Sifra al-pi ketav yad Vatikan 66, Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1989
Mordechai Glatzer, 'Kitve Yad Bavliyim Kedumim', Al Sefarim ve-Anashim 10 (1996), pp. 16-19

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beard hairs in books

Somewhere in his sprawling Minhage Yisrael, Prof Daniel Sperber discusses the custom of readers leaving the hairs that fall from their bears within the pages of the book they are reading. Kabbalistic reasons have been given. But now we know the real one - to preserve their identity for posterity:

Scientists have been examining Copernicus’s skull and leg bones since they were discovered by archaeologists three years ago in an unmarked grave in the cathedral. Testing revealed that the body was of a 70 year old man, and that he had a broken nose, which would have the same age and condition of the Polish scientist when he died. Furthermore, DNA taken from teeth and bones matched hairs that were found in one of his books, and they ultimately concluded that they had found Copernicus.

From here.

I got the feeling that it sounds bad

Now the ultimate authority has confirmed - 'Talmud' sounds bad.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Fragments online

The Yehudah Nachum collection of Yemenites manuscripts and binding fragments is now online, from the people who brought you the Genizah.
And the co-operation between researchers across Europe is now supposed to bring all the Hebrew binding fragments known as the European Genizah to one site. I don't have access to the database (I hope that will change soon!), but to judge from the Austrian site that has been up for a while, it should be very useful.

And the HebrewBooks people have placed a lot of scanned early modern JTS manuscripts here.

Fun in the library

The Public Library.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


The poster for the conference next week at Mt Scopus is now available here. Note the last session:
הקשרים רב-תחומיים בחקר תולדות ההלכה
יו"ר: ד"ר רמי ריינר
רחל פירסט
נרטיביות ורטוריקה בספרות השו"ת: מתודות חדשות
בפרשנות ההלכה
פנחס רוט
קשרים ומתחים בין תרבויות הלכתיות במערב אירופה בימי
Other lectures that day will include Oded Porat on Ma'ayan ha-Hokhmah, Christian Stadel on Aramaic and the Septuagint, Oren Roman on Yiddish epic biblical poems and Rahel Hason on popular Judeo-Arabic songs in the Firkovitch collection. The first day (Yom Yerushalayim) includes lectures by Hanan Harif on Benjamin Disraeli on Orientalism and Zionism, Ra'anan Eichler on the cherubs, and Yaron Zini on the connections between Hekhalot literature and early Piyyut.