View full screen - View 1 of Lot 48. FRAGMENT OF SIDDUR (DAILY PRAYER BOOK), RABBI SAADIAH GAON, [SYRIA: 12TH CENTURY].
48

FRAGMENT OF SIDDUR (DAILY PRAYER BOOK), RABBI SAADIAH GAON, [SYRIA: 12TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

8,000 - 12,000 USD

FRAGMENT OF SIDDUR (DAILY PRAYER BOOK), RABBI SAADIAH GAON, [SYRIA: 12TH CENTURY]

FRAGMENT OF SIDDUR (DAILY PRAYER BOOK), RABBI SAADIAH GAON, [SYRIA: 12TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

8,000 - 12,000 USD

Lot sold:

47,880

USD

FRAGMENT OF SIDDUR (DAILY PRAYER BOOK), RABBI SAADIAH GAON, [SYRIA: 12TH CENTURY]


8 pages (7 3/4 x 6 7/8 in.; 195 x 175 mm) on paper; modern pagination in pencil in Arabic numerals in upper-outer corners; written in Eastern (Syrian) semi-cursive script in black ink; single-column text of twenty-one to twenty-three lines per page; unruled; no catchwords; Tetragrammaton represented via yod-vav-yod combination, the yodin connected with an arced line and the vav supported by a kamats; superlinear dots used frequently to indicate abbreviations. All pages mounted on guards; several small unrepaired holes and tears, generally with minimal loss of text; a few larger repaired holes and tears, usually with greater loss of text (see, e.g., pp. 5-6); heavy staining on pp. 4-5. Modern brown buckram; paper tickets on spine with manuscript title and shelf mark; modern paper flyleaves and pastedowns.


The largest of about fourteen extant privately held Genizah fragments containing parts of this famous liturgical work.


Rabbi Saadiah Gaon (882-942), a masterful pioneer in the fields of halakhah, Hebrew grammar and philology, biblical exegesis and translation, and Jewish philosophy, was also a major authority on Jewish prayer and a prolific composer of liturgical poetry. Born in Egypt, he eventually made his way, via Palestine and Aleppo, to Babylonia, where he was appointed ga’on (eminence) of the Sura yeshiva in 928. In the introduction to his siddur, compiled in Babylonia and titled Kitāb jāmiʿ al-ṣalawāt wal-tasābīḥ (Book of All the Prayers and Praises), he explains that he wrote the work because of the profusion (and confusion) of the prayer texts then in circulation. His own book sought to reproduce the original, unadulterated versions of the daily, Sabbath, and festival prayers for the entire liturgical year, interspersed with clear halakhic instructions written in Judeo-Arabic. The siddur would, with time, exert significant influence on the prayer rites of the Jews of Afghanistan, Iran, Kurdistan, and Yemen.


The present lot, discovered in the Cairo Genizah, constitutes a fragment of the ga’on’s work and can be divided in two: the first two leaves cover the last section of the author’s treatment of the Purim prayers, as well as the beginning of the Yom Kippur service; the latter two folios include hosha‘not recited on the festival of Sukkot, several of them composed by Rav Saadiah himself. While numerous Genizah manuscripts contain snatches of different parts of this siddur, only about fourteen are held privately, and of these the Sassoon fragment is the largest. (See also Menachem Zulay’s words of praise for the length and legibility of the Sassoon Genizah fragments containing liturgical poetry.)


The ga’on’s prayer book was first published in its entirety in 1941, based primarily on MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hunt. 448, with variant readings provided by numerous Genizah fragments, including the present lot. Only its first two folios, however, were used for this purpose. Renowned scholar of early Jewish prayer Uri Ehrlich has demonstrated the importance of Genizah manuscripts in accurately reconstructing Rav Saadiah’s original text. The time has come for proper editorial use to be made of the latter two leaves as well.


Literature

Uri Ehrlich, “Le-heker nussah ha-tefillah be-siddur rav se‘adyah ga’on,” Pe‘amim 121 (2010): 67-99.


Dan Greenberger, “Siddur rasag: iyyunim be-nussah, mivneh ve-hora’ot” (Ph.D. diss., Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2012), 68, 136-137.


S.J. Halberstam, “Zu den Hoschanot des Gaon R. Saadia,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 39,3 (1894-1895): 111.


Alexander Kohut, “Die Hoschanot des Gaon R. Saadia: das erste Mal ediert und auf Grund dreier Yemen-Mss. kritisch beleuchtet,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 37,11-12 (1892-1893): 506-517, 556-565.


Saadiah Gaon, Siddur rav se‘adyah ga’on, ed. Israel Davidson, Simcha Assaf, and Issachar Joel, 2nd ed. (Jerusalem: Mekizei Nirdamim; Rubin Mass, 1963), 53 (introduction), 246 l. 7-252 l. 22, 257 l. 6-263 l. 10.


David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid: Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, vol. 1 ([Oxford]: Oxford University Press; London: Humphrey Milford, 1932), 270 (no. 216), facsimile 16.


Menachem Zulay, “Reshimat piyyutei ha-genizah be-osef sassoon,” Kiryat sefer 27 (1950): 82-96, at pp. 82, 88.


Menachem Zulay, Ha-askolah ha-paytanit shel rav se‘adyah ga’on (Jerusalem: Schocken Institute, 1964), 44.

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