Lot 5
  • 5

Mahzor According to Roman Rite, Manuscript on Vellum, Two Volumes [Italy: ca. 1420-1460]

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • ink, vellum, leather
335 leaves in two volumes, (10 ½ x 7 ¾ in.; 268 x 198 mm). collation, vol. I: 110, 29, 3-410, 58, 6-710, 87, 9-1510, 168, 179, 18-1910, 204= 185 leaves; vol. II: 1-1510= 150 leaves. Written in brown ink on parchment in fifteenth century Italian and Ashkenazic Hebrew square and semi cursive scripts with nikkud; 29 lines; decorated catchwords, some shaved. Several decorated Initial word panels (see for example: ff. 1r, 182r). Parchment preparation and ruling consistent with contemporary Northern-Italian practice (see Bet Aríe); vertical lines ruled in ink; horizontal in plummet. Modern foliation in pencil. Vol. I written in three distinct scribal hands: Scribe "a," produced: ff. 1r-39v, 48r-71v, 153v-178v and indicates his name, Barukh, in at least 10 locations: ff. 2r, 6v, 19v, 21v, 24v, 25r, 25v, 27v, 30r, and 39r. Scribe "b," produced ff. 72r-144v and indicates his name, Haim, in at least 6 locations: ff. 79r, 87r, 91v, 129v, 132v, 137v. The final, anonymous scribe, "c" produced: ff. 40r-47v, 145r-152v, and 178v-185r.  Vol II written almost entirely by scribe "b," Haim, whose name is indicated in at least two locations: ff. 34v, 97r, with the exception of ff. 20v-22r which were penned by another anonymous scribe in a Sephardic Italian Hebrew script. Censored passages as expected. Lightly soiled and stained. Some flaking of ink, more pronounced in some quires. Lower blank margins cut out (probably for ritual use) and replaced, only occasionally shaving text,: vol. I:  ff. 28, 38-40, 45-47, 58-61, 72, 81, 105, 110, 123-5, 127, 142-3, 146, 149, 154, 164-8, 177, 182-4; vol. II: ff. 29, 49-54, 69-70, 74-79, 81, 91-97, 99-103. Leaves extended at outer margin, vol I: 96, 112, 119, 130-1, 150-3, 159, 163; vol. II ff. 16-19, 39, 66-68, 71-73. Occasional marginal tears, some repaired. Early 19th century family inscriptions on paper free endpapers in vol. I. All edges gilt. Rebound ca 1750: bundpapier endpapers, polished green morocco paneled gilt with tooled silver catches and clasps. Worn. 


Mavo le-maḥazor bene Roma, S. D. Luzzatto (1856), republished in 1966 with supplement by Daniel Goldschmidt and bibliography by J. J. Cohen. More recently, see Studies on the Mahzor according to the Italian Rite, edited by Mordechai Angelo Piattelli, Jerusalem (Italia. Editor: Robert Bonfil, Supplement Series, 4). Jerusalem, The Hebrew University Magnes Press Ltd., 2012. XVIII, 170, [2] pp. [Hebrew].

Catalogue Note

The liturgical rite of the Jews of Rome reflects a tradition that had already existed in manuscript for centuries long before it was among the first texts to be published by Hebrew printers in the late fifteenth century. Manuscripts such as the present lot, reflect an important stage in the development of this rite.

The first volume of this Mahzor includes prayers for weekdays, Sabbaths, New Moons and Festivals and the penitential prayers related to the four biblically ordained fast days. Also included are prayers and blessings for a variety of life-cycle events such as weddings, circumcisions, and the like. Numerous liturgical poems, designated by name for inclusion at specific places within the liturgy (Yotzrot, Kerovot, Ma’araviot, etc.) are also present as are the order of service for Torah and Haftarah readings, along with the biblical texts of Song of Songs, Ruth, and Lamentations. Also found in this volume is the text of Pirkei Avot (ethics of the Fathers) with the commentary of Maimonides (also the commentary of Rashi to the final chapter). Volume two comprises the liturgy for Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur as well as special supplications to be recited before and during the High Holiday season. Here too, there are numerous liturgical poems appropriate to the season.

Many of the piyyutim, included here are unknown in the printed Mahzor Roma, including several that are not found in Israel Davidson's Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry.  An exceptionally important example is an otherwise unknown variant of the universally well-known piyyut, Adon 'Olam (vol. II, f. 27r). In addition, these volumes contain numerous variations from those later printed editions. On the other hand, there are a number of important similarities that clearly link this manuscript to other early exemplars of this liturgical tradition which is still used today in Rome and in the interior of Italy, as well as in the Italian synagogue in Jerusalem.

Sotheby’s is grateful to Dr. Shlomo Zucker for his detailed report on this manuscript which aided in the cataloguing of this lot. Dr. Zucker’s original report (in Hebrew) is available upon request.