View full screen - View 1 of Lot 53. MISHNEH TORAH, SEFER ZEMANNIM (LAWS OF FESTIVALS), RABBI MOSES MAIMONIDES, [YEMEN: 14TH CENTURY].
53

MISHNEH TORAH, SEFER ZEMANNIM (LAWS OF FESTIVALS), RABBI MOSES MAIMONIDES, [YEMEN: 14TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

15,000 - 25,000 USD

MISHNEH TORAH, SEFER ZEMANNIM (LAWS OF FESTIVALS), RABBI MOSES MAIMONIDES, [YEMEN: 14TH CENTURY]

MISHNEH TORAH, SEFER ZEMANNIM (LAWS OF FESTIVALS), RABBI MOSES MAIMONIDES, [YEMEN: 14TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

15,000 - 25,000 USD

Lot sold:

44,100

USD

MISHNEH TORAH, SEFER ZEMANNIM (LAWS OF FESTIVALS), RABBI MOSES MAIMONIDES, [YEMEN: 14TH CENTURY]


106 of about 350 pages (10 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.; 268 x 195 mm) (collation: ix6 [ix1-4 lacking], x-xiii10, xiv7 [xiv8-10 lacking]) on Yemenite (unmarked) paper; modern pagination in pencil in Arabic numerals in upper-outer corners; first folio of each quire signed at head of recto in Hebrew characters; midpoint opening of each quire signed with a cursive lower-case “b” or “l” shape in upper-right corner of verso and in lower-left corner of recto; written in Yemenite square script in black ink; single-column text of twenty-four to twenty-six lines per page; ruled with a mastara (ruling board); justification of lines via dilation or contraction of final letters, insertion of space fillers, and slanted inscription of final words (producing a “carpet fringes” effect); periodic in-line catchwords on versos (usually marked with a superlinear horizontal line); occasional corrections in hand of primary scribe; episodic Tiberian or Babylonian vocalization of text; marginalia added in a later hand, in Judeo-Arabic when not quoting Hebrew (see, e.g., pp. 11, 58-59, 61-62, 73-75, 95). Enlarged section titles and chapter numbers; Tetragrammaton represented via yod-vav-yod combination with dot about vav and horizontal connecting line; words of biblical verses usually dotted. Slight scattered staining (more pronounced on pp. 58-59, 63) and dampstaining; some gutters reinforced; ink sometimes worn or chipped; periodic tears in edges; corners rounded; small wormhole in gutter at head, more pronounced on pp. 1-12, 91-104; slight damage in gutter at foot of pp. 1-12; small cracks on pp. 1-2, 5-8, 21-28, 31-34, 39-40, 45-46, 63-64, affecting only individual letters; larger cracks on pp. 9-10, 29-30, 41-44, 51-52, affecting several words; worming in gutter of pp. 7-36, affecting only individual letters. Modern brown buckram; shelf mark lettered in gilt on spine; modern paper flyleaves and pastedowns.


One of about twenty substantial pre-fifteenth-century Yemenite copies of Sefer zemannim to have come down to us.


Maimonides began writing his magnum opus in about 1170 in response to the persecutions visited upon Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere and the resulting decline in halakhic knowledge. The work set out to organize all the halakhic material scattered throughout the Mishnah, Tosefta, midrashim, and Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds into fourteen synthetic books (emphatically not commentaries), which were then subdivided into eighty-three treatises comprising a total of one thousand chapters. This included even those laws no longer applicable in the post-Temple era, as well as those observed only in the Land of Israel–a major innovation when compared with previous halakhic compendia. Rambam titled his project Mishneh torah (lit., Repetition of the Torah), “because a person will first read the Written Torah [Bible] and later read this, and in that way he will know the entire Oral Torah without having to consult any other book in between.”


Unlike Maimonides’ other works, which were written in Judeo-Arabic, the Mishneh torah was composed in clear, lucid Mishnaic Hebrew, making it accessible to scholars and laymen alike, as well as to Jews across the Diaspora, including those living outside of the Islamic milieu. Its prestige derives not only from the authority of its author but from its comprehensiveness and its masterful, intuitive organization. Following its initial publication ca. 1180, the Mishneh torah would go on to exercise enormous influence on Jewish thought and practice, especially after Rabbis Jacob ben Asher (ca. 1270-1340) and Joseph Caro (1488-1575) elected to use it as one of the pillars upon which they structured their own vastly important halakhic codes, the Arba‘ah turim and Shulhan arukh, respectively.


In the introduction to his edition of Mishneh torah, Rabbi Joseph Kafih, one of the foremost Maimonides scholars of the twentieth century, writes of the Yemenite tradition that during Rambam’s lifetime expert scribes were dispatched from Yemen to copy the great rabbi’s books, including the numerous updates and corrections he made over the years. Because of Yemenite Jewry’s enormous respect for Maimonides and their general conservatism, they refused to alter Rambam’s words based on their own logical deductions, making their manuscripts some of the most authoritative available, especially when compared with the error-filled and censored printed editions.


The present lot is a substantial, consecutive fragment of the third book in the Mishneh torah series, entitled Sefer zemannim, which treats the feasts and fasts of the Jewish calendar. The material here preserved covers the labors prohibited on the holidays, the laws relating to Passover (including the text of the Haggadah), Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot, the special rules governing the annual donation of a half-shekel required during Temple times, and the procedure for the sanctification of the New Moon. It is one of about twenty extant significant Yemenite copies of Sefer zemannim made before the fifteenth century and thus constitutes an important witness to this fundamental text of Jewish law.


Contents

p. 1: Hilkhot shevitat asor 3:8b-10;

pp. 1-36: Hilkhot shevitat yom tov;

pp. 36-58: Hilkhot hamets u-matsah;

pp. 58-63: Nussah ha-haggadah;

pp. 63-89: Hilkhot shofar ve-sukkah ve-lulav;

pp. 89-99: Hilkhot shekalim;

pp. 99-106: Hilkhot kiddush ha-hodesh 1:1-3:15.


Literature

Moses Maimonides, Sefer mishneh torah, ed. Joseph Kafih, vol. 1, 3 (Kiryat Ono: Mekhon Mishnat ha-Rambam, 1984-1986), 1:10-11, 27, 3:10-12.


Sassoon 1181 (not catalogued in Ohel Dawid)

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