101 leaves (12 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.; 310 x 240 mm). collation: 17 of 8, 2-38, (40 of 8), 5-68, (70 of 6), 8-108, (11-120 of 15), 136 of 8, 14-178 = 101 leaves. foliation: 2-24, 33-48, 55-78, 94-96, 99-133= 101 leaves. Written in brown ink on parchment in a 14th-15th century Sephardic Hebrew semi-cursive script, 23 lines, catchwords at end of quire. (Mis-)foliated in ink by a later hand; occasional marginalia. Stained and soiled; a few leaves gnawed, affecting some text; several leaves carefully trimmed for clean parchment, not affecting text. Leaves mostly loose in gatherings of 8s with traces of sewing. Binding defective with losses; rebacking and re-edging also defective; trace remnants of gold tooling along boards; clasps or straps lost.
an exceedingly rare pre-expulsion manuscript of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah
Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204) also known as Maimonides or by the acronym Rambam, was born in Cordoba, Spain, but spent most of his life in Cairo, Egypt. His magnum opus, the Mishneh Torah, the first systematic code of Jewish law, is considered to be his outstanding contribution to Jewish scholarship. Completed in 1180, the Mishneh Torah became the first comprehensive post-Talmudic code of Jewish law to be arranged according to subject matter. It quickly became the authoritative code for Jewish communities in the Iberian Peninsula, the Orient and Yemen and was widely copied.
The popularity of Maimonides among the Jews of his native Spain cannot be overemphasized. However, the combined tragedies of the expulsions from the Iberian Peninsula at the close of the 15th century and the wholesale burning of Hebrew books, most notably in the mid-13th century and again in the mid-16th centuries, resulted in the destruction of most of the medieval copies of Maimonides' works. This volume, representing the literary legacy of Sepharad's favorite son, copied in the land of his birth more than 600 years ago, has survived centuries of persecution and peregrination; it is a testament to both the erudition of its author and the perseverance of his people.
The present volume comprises the majority of Sefer Z'manim, the "Book of Seasons," which deals with the laws of Sabbath and holiday observance.
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