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Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts at the Library of Congress:
Introduction to the Website

The Hebraic Section of the Library of Congress houses over 225 manuscripts; most of them in Hebrew but with a fair sampling of manuscripts  also written in cognate languages such as Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and Yiddish.  It is a highly diverse collection, dating from the 11th to early 20th centuries and drawn from Jewish communities throughout the world. It is also a very eclectic collection, particularly rich in kabalistic material from Italy and Safed yet also offering material in everything from music and poetry to folk medicine and synagogue rites. Very little of the material is illustrated; the major exception to the rule being, in this case, a most spectacular exception indeed: the famous Washington Haggadah by Joel ben Simeon, an illuminated treasure from the late 15th century.

Lesser-known treasures in the collection are waiting to be discovered and researched. Amongst these we might mention a manuscript of the Diwan containing unpublished poems by Solomon ben Meshullam Dapiera (MS 154); a responsum concerning the kiddushin of two daughters, apparently in Lebanon (MS 31), and a pinkas of a synagogue in Mantua from the years 1739-1749 (MS 29). Those interested in Jewish folk culture will find rich materials (e.g., MSS 21, 35, 57, 182) as will those researching the modes of Jewish music in the Ottoman Empire (MSS 24; 144). Of special interest, perhaps, is a large autograph fragment by Moses b. Abraham Provençal (MS 147),  a chapter from Hayyim Vital’s unpublished redaction of Shemoneh Shecarim(MS43), and an unpublished novel in Hebrew written just after the first Zionist Congress in 1896 (MS 77).  

 


This digital website has been a long time in the making. It began with the first acquisitions of the fledgling Hebraic Section back in 1912 and culminates in a project that saw Dallas Alexander Grubbs, a Ph.D. candidate at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., scanning and digitizing the first 50 manuscripts during the summer of 2015. In between has been a century of research, with scholars gradually filling in the gaps to provide information about authors, dates, and provenance. Particularly important here was the work of two former heads of the Library’s Hebraic Section: Lawrence C. Marwick (1909-1981) and Myron M. Weinstein (1927-1998), whose copious notes provided a foundation for the catalogue compiled by Benjamin Richler in the summer of 2006.  Richler’s masterly work stands as a monument to a great scholar and with the addition of some half-a-dozen manuscripts acquired over the last few years, it is now presented here in digital form, together with updated indices.

Ann Brener
Hebraic Section, Library of Congress
August 12, 2015

Manuscript Navigation
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Indices
Index of Names (PDF,1MB)
Index of Places (PDF, 1MB)
Index of Poems (PDF, 1MB)
Index of Titles (PDF 1MB)


image: Sample page from Ms 1

LC Hebr. Ms 1 (PDF, 31MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/1)
Copied in Fiorenzuola on 25 Tishri 5499=1738. Colophon (f. 112r): סליק מצות המפוזרים בזוהר וסילקא ספר לחם מן השמים אשר הומסר לנו ע"י הרב המקובל ... יצחק לורייא אשכנזי זלה"ה, פה פיורנצולה יום ה' כה לחדש תשרי שנת תצ"ט לפ"ק .
[ii], 145 ff. Paper. 14.9 x 10 cm. Fiorenzuola, 1738. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 2

LC Hebr. Ms 2 (PDF, 91MB)    (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/2)
תוכחות מוסר Tokhehot Mussar ("Moral Reproofs"), by Ezra b. Ezekiel of Baghdad (1660-after 1742).
3-201 ff. [90 skipped]. Paper. 22 x 16 cm. [Baghdad?]. 18th cent. Oriental square and semi-square scripts. Tooled calf binding.

image: Sample page from Ms 3

LC Hebr. Ms 3   (PDF, 112MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/3)
Two kabbalistic commentaries and two commentaries on the Sefirot.
[ii], 248 ff. Paper. 21.1 x 13 cm. 17-18th cent. Maghrebic semi-cursive scripts.

image: Sample page from Ms 4

LC Hebr. Ms 4 (PDF, 4MB)      (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/4)
Collection of Kabbalah texts
57 ff. Paper. 14.7 x 10 cm. 17th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 5 LC Hebr. Ms 5  (PDF, 2MB)    (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/5)    
[רשימות החללים בהתמוטטות בית במנטובה ] Separate lists of 37 men and 28 women who perished when a floor collapsed on 16 Sivan 5536=31 May 1776
7 ff. Paper. 17.7 x 12 cm. [Mantua], ca, 1776. Italian semi-cursive script.
image: Sample page from Ms 6

LC Hebr. Ms 6  (PDF, 12MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/6)
Kabbalistic and midrashic texts
34 ff. Paper. 19 x 14.5 cm. 16-17th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms7

LC Hebr. Ms 7 (PDF, 27MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/7)
Tapuhei Zahav by Jehiel Melli, an abridgement of Reshit Hokhmah by Elijah de Vidas. Incomplete.
146 ff. Paper. 14.1 x 9.1 cm. Ca. 1625. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 8

LC Hebr. Ms 8 (PDF, 10MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/8)
Tots’ot Hayim by Elijah de Vidas
50 ff. Paper. 19.5 x 14.5 cm.17th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 9

LC Hebr. Ms 9 (PDF, 25MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/9)
Ner Mitzvah by Moses Pesante
55 ff. Laid and chain-lined paper. 20.5 x 15.2 cm. 16-17th cent. (after 1567).  Oriental-Sephardic semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 10

LC Hebr. Ms 10 (PDF, 8MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr 880/10)
שיר השירים שרח ולשון  Judeo-Arabic translation of the Aramaic Targum to Canticles
33 ff. (ff. 31-33 blank). Paper. 15 x10 cm. 18th cent. Oriental semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 11

LC Hebr. Ms 11 (PDF, 3MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/11)
Fragments from a divination manual, including astrological predictions.
13 ff. Paper. 13 x 9 cm. 1572/3. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 12

LC Hebr. Ms 12 (PDF, 19MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/12)
Laws of shehitah (ritual slaughter) by Jacob Weil

38 ff. (1-34, 34A-34B, 35-36). Paper. 19 x 13 cm. 18th cent. (ca. 1767). Italian semi-cursive script

image: Sample page from Ms 13

LC Hebr. Ms 13 (PDF, 5MB)    (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/13)
Collection of short treatises partly (nos. 1-5) copied from the Mantua 1623 edition of Tapuhei Zahav by Jehiel Melli.
22 ff. Paper. 14.3  x 9.5 cm. Ca. 1625. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 14

LC Hebr. Ms 14 (PDF, 17MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/14)
Yesod Olam, rhymed drama by Moses Zacuto.
24 ff. Paper. 19 x 13.5 cm. 17-18th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 15

LC Hebr. Ms 15 (PDF, 52MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/15)
Elijah de Vidas’ abridgement of his Reshit Hokhmah.
129 ff. Paper. 14 x 9.5 cm. Ca. 1625. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms 16

LC Hebr. Ms 16 (PDF, 2MB)  (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/16)
פתרון חלומות Interpretation of dreams. Arranged by the subjects of the dreams: foods, animals, celestial objects, trades and deaths and ghosts.
7 ff. Paper. 22 x 16 cm. 18th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms17

LC Hebr. Ms 17 (PDF, 104MB)    (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/17)
ספר האדרא רבא קדישא Zohar (Idra Rabba).
113 ff. ([ii], 1-101, 103-112; f. 102 skipped in foliation). Paper. 23 x 17.5 cm. 1834.

In Progress

LC Hebr. Ms 18 (Micro Orien. Hebr. 841/2)
[כתבים ופסקים ] Collection of responsa and decisions collected by Elijah b. Elkanah Capsali.
76 ff. Paper. Candia, 16th cent. (ca. 1538-1545). Byzantine semi-cursive scripts.

image: Sample page from Ms19

LC Hebr. Ms 19  (PDF, 27MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/18)
Shealtiel,  moral epigrams and riddles by Tobiah Pesach Schapiro (1845-1924)
61 pp. Paper. 21 x 16 cm. 1918. Ashkenazic semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms20

LC Hebr. Ms 20 (PDF, 139MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/83 and Micro Orien. Hebr. 851/2)
Responsa by Abraham Halevi of Salonica
288 ff.  Paper. 21.5 x 14 cm.  Salonica. Ca. 1604-1615. Oriental semi-cursive scripts.

image: Sample page from Ms 21

LC Hebr. Ms 21 (PDF, 32MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/19)
Various prayers.
94 ff. (ff. 1r-7r, 11r-12r, 36, 46v-47v, 57r-66v, 71v-94v blank). Paper. 14.5 x 9.5 cm. 1830- ca. 1851. Italian semi-cursive scripts.

image: Sample page from Ms 22a

LC Hebr. Ms 22A (PDF, 148MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/48)
Tikkunei ha-Ri’’ff
[214] ff.  Watermarked paper. 18.9 x 13.9 cm. 16-17th cent. Italian semi-cursive script.

image: Sample page from Ms22b

LC Hebr. Ms 22B (PDF, 109MB)  (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/49)
Tikkunei ha-Ri”f  by Samuel b. Mahalalel Del Vecchio.
[158] ff. Watermarked paper. 19 x 13.5 cm. 16-17th cent. Italian semi-cursive script

LC Hebr. Ms 23 (PDF, 51MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/50)
 [ביאור אמצעי על ספר השמע הטבעי של אריסטו ] Intermediate commentary on Aristotle’s Physics by Averroes
72 ff. Laid and chain lined paper and parchment. 21.5 x 13.5 cm. 15th cent. Sephardic semi-cursive script. Badly damaged by moisture.

LC Hebr. Ms 24 (PDF, 7MB) (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/30)
חדשים לבקרים Hadashim li-Vekarim. A diwan, or collection of pizmonim (liturgical poems)
19 ff. Paper. 21 x 16 cm. 18-19th cent. Near East (Turkey?). Oriental Sephardic square script.

LC Hebr. Ms 25 (PDF, 35MB)   (Micro Orien. Hebr. 880/169)
Pinkas, or account book of an Ashkenaz rite synagogue in Mantua from the years 5547 - 5555 = 1786-1795 .
73 ff. Paper.  29.5 x 11 cm. Mantua, 1786-1795. Italian semi-cursive scripts.

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