web analytics
September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
Sections
Sponsored Post
The Migdal Ohr Mishpachton MISHPACHTONIM – Israel’s Children are Your Children.

Support Migdal Ohr by purchasing letters in the Torah Scroll that will be written in honor of Rabbi Grossman’s 70th Birthday.



Home » Sections » Arts »

A Jewish Palimpsest In Maastricht, Netherlands


Printer-Ready Page Layout
Circa 1300. Leaf from a manuscript excerpt from Joshua and Isaiah from the Haftorah. (Membrum disjectum.) Photo by Menachem Wecker.

Circa 1300. Leaf from a manuscript excerpt from Joshua and Isaiah from the Haftorah. (Membrum disjectum.) Photo by Menachem Wecker.



14th century manuscript. First page from a Babylonian Talmud, tractate Pesahim. Probably from Northern France or the Rijnland. (Membra disjecta.) Photo by Menachem Wecker.

It’s impossible to know the scribe’s motivations, but the typographical decisions certainly raise a lot of questions. The same is not true of the second manuscript I saw. The two pages from a Babylonian Talmud, tractate Pesachim, are laid out more strategically, and even have occasional paragraph breaks (though those don’t necessarily seem to follow the flow of the Mishnaic texts). One can also see marginal notes in a different scribal hand, which are commentaries (perhaps of Rashi or Tosafot).

But by far the most compelling manuscript was the palimpsest, which dates to around 1300. A century after the Hebrew text was written, another hand (writing in brown ink) added the insignia of the tax registry, written at a 90-degree angle to the Hebrew text. And about two centuries later (this time in black ink), another hand added names and amounts of money those people owed in taxes. “Pure vandalism,” Walle explained.

One can see that the text was used to read Haftorot from (in image four, eight lines down in small text, a note directs the reader to the Haftorah for Rosh Chodesh that falls on Shabbat). But it was reinvented as a tax registry, and rather than scraping off the original text, the tax officials simply added their own notes in the margins of the text.

Walle is right about the vandalism, but in many ways the documents—insofar as their story betrays the different people who owned them and used them in a variety of ways—are more exciting for their complexity and multiple identities.

 

Full disclosure: This writer’s trip to Maastricht was funded, in large part, by the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, which, however, had no role whatsoever in or oversight over this article.

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blog.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Menachem Wecker

About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.




Imported and Older Comments:

to “A Jewish Palimpsest In Maastricht, Netherlands”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 5, 2009.   Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Obama, the Clintons and the Pope to Attend Shimon Peres’ Funeral

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/a-jewish-palimpsest-in-maastricht-netherlands/2012/05/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: