For One Day Only: $1=$4, Thanks to Matching from BIG Donors
The siddur, currently in the Braginsky Collection (reviewed in the Jewish Press, February 26, 2010), is called “Sefer Sod Adonai im Sharvit ha Zahav (Book of the Lord’s Mystery with the [commentary] Golden Scepter.” It was copied and illuminated by Aryeh ben Judah Leib of Trebitsch in 1716 and features a title page showing three men and two women in a synagogue setting. After that is the prayer Adon Olam illuminated with two rampant lions unfolding a cartouche with the Hebrew word Adon inscribed. Next are the first morning blessings: “Blessed are you Hashem regarding washing the hands. Blessed are You Hashem who heals all flesh and is wondrous in His acts.” The blessing on washing the hands is surrounded by an illumination that depicts an angel on the left and a young man carrying a big fish on his shoulder on the right. Rather surprisingly the subject is from the Book of Tobias, part of the Catholic cannon and known as a book of the Apocrypha (from the Greek meaning “hidden things”).
First of all the subject, the Book of Tobias, while not included in the Jewish canon, is distinctly Jewish. It was composed in Aramaic sometime between the 4th and early 2nd century BCE. Four copies in Aramaic and one in Hebrew were found in the Qumran Caves among the Dead Sea Scrolls. According to scholars several medieval Jewish versions survive and there is evidently a shortened version of the tale in Midrash Tanhuma (Encyclopedia Judaica). It even surfaces in an early painting of Moritz Oppenheim, “Return of Tobias” 1823. It is unknown why it was not included in the canon although the Mishnah Yadayim 4:5 seems to imply that books included in the canon can be written in Hebrew, or Hebrew and Aramaic, but not totally in Aramaic.
Set in Nineveh, capital of Assyria, around 722 during the exile of the ten northern tribes (2 Kings: 17:6). Tobias was a deeply pious Jew of the tribe of Naphtali, zealous in observance of all the mitzvot – giving charity, keeping kosher and being especially careful about the mitzvah of burying the unclaimed dead even in the face of persecution. In spite of his selfless piety he was blinded in an incomprehensible divine test similar to the one we see in the Book of Job.
The featuring of the archangel Raphael in this narrative is especially apt since he is traditionally associated with healing by his name alone, Raphael = God is healing. Even more revealingly Raphael is cited in the Talmud, Yoma 37a, as one of the three angels who visit Abraham as he is recovering from his circumcision. In the much latter literature of the Zohar “he is the angel who dominates the morning hours to bring relief to the sick and suffering (Encyclopedia Judaica).” Suddenly the use of Raphael couldn’t be a more apt image to have in a mohel’s siddur. One almost wonders why the Book of Tobias wasn’t used more often in Hebrew illumination.
Perhaps the fact that Jews did not venerate its text while the Christians did chased off Jewish artists and thinkers from utilizing the rich material found in this abandoned Jewish book. Not surprisingly, following Jewish tradition, in Christian lore the angel Raphael is the patron saint of apothecaries and physicians, guardian saint over children, also watching over travelers. But for Aryeh ben Judah Leib of Trebitsch, the man who started a rebirth of Hebrew manuscript illumination, it was fair game to create a totally unique and deeply meaningful image for a mohel’s siddur. We are blessed with his creativity and insight.
I am deeply indebted to curators Emile Schrijver and Sharon Liberman Mintz for their research in the catalogue “Highlights from the Braginsky Collection.” I especially thank Sharon Liberman Mintz for directing my attention to this fascinating manuscript.
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art.
Contact him at email@example.com
About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
In the face of evil, we can do acts of kindness. We can do good deeds.
I realized that I am an integral part of that man who wished to win – I am also a part of a nation; I felt like I was standing there and shouting, “I won.”
As I powerfully belted out the song, Ani Maamin B’emunah Sheleima – which means “I believe in God with full faith” – a thought suddenly crossed my mind.
After diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the mid-1800s, Antwerp regained its prominence as the diamond capital of the world.
Search the Internet for innovative barbeque items and you might just be surprised at what you come across.
Orlando was once a place where people came only to visit and vacation. Now it is home to a burgeoning Torah community, a place Jewish families can be proud to call home.
You’re not seeking perfection. You’re seeking a life that an average person can manage and feel good about. Don’t feel pressure to change everything at once.
The smuggler’s life has been changed forever. He is faced with a major criminal charge. He will probably be sent to prison.
In Culture Shock, readers will also come to identify with a culture from the other end of Orthodox Jewry’s spectrum.
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Executive Function Disorder (EFD) have trouble keeping themselves organized and on-task.
Our Sages have told us exactly how we should act – and how our children should act – in Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers.
A second supposed difficulty actually becomes a reason to corroborate that Amestris is Esther.
I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other.
“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).
Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.
Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/a-mohels-siddur-by-aryeh-ben-judah-leib-2/2010/08/04/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: