The initial word on f. 25v is decorated in black ink in typical Ashkenazic fashion. Most of the catchwords at the end of quires are decorated with drolleries, including various lions, dogs, horses, and human figures. Among the more fanciful images are a centaur shooting arrows (fol. ii verso), a jester (fol. 104v) and a two-headed lion (fol. 16v). This last example is closely accompanied the name Yehuda Hayyim ben Meir, perhaps an owner who added the decorations to the catchwords, and pointed out his name, Yehuda on f. 12r and three times on f. 83r.
The selihot are numbered, and in its present state, the manuscript now includes nos. 46-47, end of 58, 59, 62-210. Additional selihot, called tahanunim, are numbered 1-16. A later hand has added additional numbers to certain selihot, likely in correspondence to another manuscript. On ff. 69r, 76v and 99r specific melodies are indicated. On a few pages there are additions or marginal notes, including a commentary to the Aramaic prayer Ta shema (fol. 125v) and on the final leaf (fol. 126), another, now faded, hand supplies a table indicating which selihot to be recited on Yom Kippur, fastdays, certain Mondays and Thursdays, etc.
The name Yaakov is pointed out on ff. 12r, 27r and 117r, and is likely the name of the scribe. Owner's inscriptions on f. i recto include: Feivel Katz, the heirs of Samuel Heilprun, Seligmann of Cittadella (Italy) and some now-illegible names, among them perhaps, Yekutiel Kohen and on f. 16v, the aforementioned Yehuda Hayyim ben Meir.
This manuscript that has survived for seven centuries, though not unscathed, retains its beauty. The script remains elegant, the black ink has not faded and the letters and vocalizations (nikkud) are still crystal clear. As Benjamin Richler has noted: “This is an important early example of the Ashkenazic rite liturgy and in some instances, a rare, and perhaps unique, surviving copy of many selihot."
Provenance: Feivel Katz; Heirs of Samuel Heilprun; Seligmann of Cittadella; Yekutiel Kohen [?]; Yehuda Hayyim ben Meir; Solomon Halberstam (shelf no. 392); Moses Montefiore, (Hirschfeld ms. no. 241)
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