First Manuscript Treatise: 10 folios (collation: i-v2) on parchment: I. pp. 1-16: contemporary pagination in Hebrew characters in upper-outer corner starting on p. 2; written in an elegant Sephardic square script (incipits and dates) and book hand (text body) in black ink; single-column text of 19-22 lines per page; ruled lightly in pencil; justification of lines via dilation or contraction of final letters; no catchwords; intermittent vocalization; enlarged incipits; decorative frame surrounding first word on p. 1; two words (place name) written in Latin script on p. 12; copied colophon on p. 16. II. pp. 17-19: as above, except that the text is entirely in square script, each page is surrounded by a decorative border, and dates are given in Hebrew characters (Jewish calendar) as well as Arabic numerals (Gregorian calendar).
Printed Book: 34 folios (collation: i8, ii4, iii8, iv4, v8, vi2) on paper: Proops printer’s mark (hands raised in the formation of the priestly benediction) on ff. 1r, 34v; headers throughout; incomplete, lacking second section of the book (14 folios containing Yiddish-language prayers and instructions for use by women); small stain on f. 1r at foot; ff. 32-34 loose.
Second Manuscript Treatise: 10 folios (collation: i-v2) on parchment, 1 folio on paper: I. ff. 1r-6r: contemporary foliation in Hebrew characters in upper-outer corner of recto; written in an elegant Sephardic square script (text body) and book hand (rubrics) in black ink; single-column text of 24-27 lines per page; ruled lightly in pencil; justification of lines via dilation or contraction of final letters and abbreviation; catchwords on most pages except ff. 1v, 2r, 5r; prayers vocalized; some incipits enlarged. II. ff. 8v-10v: modern foliation in pencil in upper-outer corner of recto; written in an elegant Sephardic square script (dates) and book hand (text body) in black ink; ruled lightly in pencil; poetic tombstone in two columns reproduced on f. 10v. III. f. 11r: text written on paper in brown ink, almost entirely in book hand, except for the enlarged incipit.
Bound in mid-nineteenth-century brown leather, paneled in blind and rebacked; silver filigree cornerpieces and intact silver filigree clasp on fore-edge; contemporary marbled paper flyleaves and pastedowns.
The present lot comprises two manuscript treatises of historical and liturgical content bound on either side of the first part of Rabbi Moses ben Simeon Frankfurter’s (1672-1762) Sefer sha‘ar shim‘on (Amsterdam: Orphans of Solomon Proops, 1749). This highly popular book, an abbreviated version of the author’s father’s Sefer ha-hayyim, includes all the prayers to be recited by, and laws relevant to, members of the hevrah kaddisha while visiting the sick, preparing the dead for burial, etc. The common thread linking the documents included herein seems to be their treatment of prominent deceased rabbinic leaders in the Jewish communities of Amsterdam, Prague, and Frankfurt am Main, as follows:
pp. 1-16: a brief biography of Moses Uri ben Joseph ha-Levi (Philips Joosten; 1544-ca. 1622), an Ashkenazic rabbi in Emden, and the story of his involvement in the founding of the Portuguese community in Amsterdam ca. 1600. The compiler/translator, David Franco-Mendes (1713-1792), a famous Dutch Sephardic Talmudic scholar and playwright, names as his sources the Spanish-language writings of the converso poet Miguel (Daniel Levi) de Barrios (1635-1701) and the Yiddish-language Sefer she’erit yisra’el of Rabbi Menahem Man Amelander (Amlander; 1698-ca. 1767). According to a note on the first page, the text of this biography was copied from a manuscript then held by the library of the Amsterdam-based Hebrew literary society Tongeleth (To‘elet; original Dutch name: Tot Nut) and now housed in Los Angeles (University of California Ms. 960 bx. 1.6), written in 1792 (the year of Franco-Mendes’ death). It was posthumously published in three installments in Ha-maggid (1860) by Samuel Israël Mulder (born Samuel Schrijver; 1792-1862) and then republished by Jacob Saphir (1822-1885) in the third part of his well-known travelogue Even sappir (1874);
pp. 17-19: a list of the names of the rabbis who served the Ashkenazic community of Amsterdam from 1636 (Moses ben Jacob Weile of Prague) to 1838 (Samuel Berish Berenstein), including the years of their tenures. This list is followed by the names of two rabbis who served the separate, Eastern European (Polish) community of the city; p. 20: blank.
ff. 1r-6r: selections from Rabbi Jacob ben Abraham Solomon’s (late sixteenth-early seventeenth centuries) Ma‘aneh lashon (editio princeps: Prague, ca. 1615; frequently reprinted thereafter), a classic collection of prayers to be recited by mourners, those observing yortsayt (the anniversary of a relative’s death), and those visiting the cemetery. The prayers reproduced here are meant to be said in the cemetery on the eve of Yom Kippur and when visiting one’s father’s or mother’s graves; ff. 6v-8r: blank;
ff. 8v-10v: a chronologically-arranged transcription of tombstone inscriptions over the graves of prominent men and women buried in the old Jewish cemetery of Prague, the earliest dated 606 CE (Sarah, wife of Joseph Katz) and the latest dated 1820 (Rabbi Bezalel Ranschburg). The epitaphs of many of the most famous rabbis of Prague are here reproduced (usually in abbreviated form); cf. Kalman Lieben’s Sefer gal ed (1856);
f. 11r: the text of the yizkor prayer recited in memory of Jacob Joshua ben Zevi Hirsch Falk (1680-1756), an important Eastern European halakhic authority who served as rabbi of the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main between 1741 and 1751 (and was an ancestor of the aforementioned Samuel Berish Berenstein). The scribe writes that he copied the text, which is replete with biographical and bibliographical details about Falk and his writings, from the memorial volume of the Wertheimer Klaus in Frankfurt. It was published, “from the Memorbuch of the Jewish community,” by Markus Horovitz in 1884.
On paleographical grounds, the treatises appear to have been copied by at least two (and probably three) separate scribes. The latest date cited in the first is 1838 and in the second 1820. Given that the binding is mid-nineteenth-century work, it is reasonable to assume that the manuscripts were written in the first half of that century in Amsterdam (although Prague and Frankfurt may have been the locations for parts of the second treatise).
David Franco-Mendes, “Toledot he-hakham ve-navon ... mosheh uri ha-levi z[ikhrono] l[i-berakhah],” Ha-maggid 4,18 (May 9, 1860): 1; 4,19 (May 16, 1860): 1; 4,20 (May 23, 1860): 1.
Markus Horovitz, Frankfurter Rabbinen: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der israelitischen Gemeinde in Frankfurt a. M., vol. 3 (Frankfurt am Main: Commissions-Verlag der Jaeger’schen Buchhandlung, 1884), 87-88.
Paula Tuinhout-Keuning, “Kitvei ha-hevrah ha-amsterdamit ‘to‘elet’ ve-ha-haskalah be-germanyah,” in Jozeph Michman (ed.), Mehkarim al toledot yahadut holland, vol. 5 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1988), 217-271.
Paula Keuning, “Hebrew and the Emancipation of Dutch Jewry,” Studia Rosenthaliana 30,1 (1996): 88-98.
Kalman Lieben, Sefer gal ed: kovets me’ah ve-shiv‘im kitvei luhot avnei zikkaron bi-sedeh ha-kevurah yashan noshan k[ehillah] k[edoshah] prag y[agen] a[leha] e[lohim] (Prague: Moses ha-Levi Landau, 1856).
Isaac Maarsen, “Tongeleth”: een joodsch letterkundige kring in de XIX-de eeuw (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1925).
Moshe Pelli, “Bikkurei to‘elet,” Kesher 43 (Summer 2012): 119-127.
Jacob Saphir, Even sappir, pt. 3 (Mainz: Jehiel Brill, 1874), 2-9.
Albert van der Heide, “Problems of ’Tongeleth’-Poetry,” Studia Rosenthaliana 19,2 (1985): 264-274.
Vinograd, Amsterdam 1624
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