173 [of 180] leaves (10 3/8 x 7½ in.; 265 x 190 mm). collation: 1-118,121, 13-228, 234=173 leaves, lacking only ff.12.2-12.8; title page stained and soiled, ink trials; loss at upper margin. Worming, affecting some text. Dampstaining. Final two quires with marginal losses not affecting text. Final (blank) leaf defective. Modern beige cloth, lightly stained.
Vinograd, Venice 78; Haberman 82
Sefer ha-Hinnukh rearranges the 613 commandments enumerated by Maimonides in Sefer ha-Mitzvot (Book of the Commandments), listing them according to the weekly Torah portion. The marginal notations that appear throughout the present copy represent cross-references to another work of Maimonides, the Mishneh Torah.
The identity of the author of Sefer ha-Hinnukh has until recently been among the greatest mysteries of medieval Jewish literature. Despite the doubts that persisted for centuries as to the work's true author, scholars had no doubt as to the dating of the work which was composed at the end of the thirteenth century. In his introduction, the author, who refers to himself only as "a Jew of the house of Levi of Barcelona," writes that he has written the work in order to arouse the heart of his young son and his youthful companions to regularly study the commandments. Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah, the editor of the first printed edition, credits the Sefer ha-Hinnukh to a certain Rabbi Aaron leading many to speculate that the author was Aaron ben Joseph ha-Levi of Barcelona, a view which subsequently became widely accepted though it continued to trouble some scholars. In 1980, Israel Ta-Shma demonstrated convincingly that the author of Sefer ha-Hinnukh was in fact Aaron's brother, Pinhas ben Joseph ha-Levi, who had written the work for his son, Joshua.
Literature: Israel Ta-Shma, "Mehabbero ha-Amitti shel Sefer ha-Hinnukh," Kiryat Sefer 55 (1980): 787-90.
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