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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Chodesh’

Shabbos Mevorchim Teves

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Our Jewish calendar is based on the lunar year, and Rosh Chodesh, literally the head of the month, occurs when the moon renews itself. It is a holiday — in that we daven mussaf, just like on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim, we do not conduct fasts, and the pious among our people eat a special seudah. Traditionally, women do not sew on Rosh Chodesh and refrain from performing heavy-duty tasks.

Rosh Chodesh was presented to women as a special reward for not partaking in the construction of the Golden Calf; when their husbands asked them wives for their gold rings, the women refused to hand them over for this purpose.

Originally, the days of Rosh Chodesh were intended to be a gift for the people in merit of the twelve tribes, but the tribes forfeited their entitlement to this benefit when they sinned with the Golden Calf, and the holiday was subsequently given to women who did not participate in the fiasco.

The Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer further states that just as the moon regains its youth at the beginning of each month, woman will be rewarded in the World to Come by being rejuvenated every month. One cannot help but note the contrast between this and Avraham Avinu’s request of Hashem — that man be endowed with visible signs of aging, so that the age difference between father and son could be discerned and proper respects be conferred upon the elder. (This was the first time since Adam HaRishon that the concept of zekeinim came into being.)

This Shabbos we bentch the new month of Teves, which falls on Friday (December 14 on the English calendar) and heralds the month that saw the birth and passing of Avraham Avinu, as well as the birth of Shimon, the second son born to Leah Imeinu.

The yahrzeits of many luminaries are celebrated during this month, among them the Rambam (20 Teves), the Baal HaTanya and the Shem MiShmuel (24 Teves), and Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch and HaRav Pinchas Hirschprung (27 Teves). Here I must add that I had the distinct honor of being in the presence of HaRav Hirschprung z”l but fear I was much too young to appreciate the privilege or even to properly absorb the import of his teaching at our Rosh Chodesh assemblies in Bais Yaakov of Montreal eons ago.

A couple of striking calamities befell us during this month: Ezra HaSofer and Nechemya ben Chachalya passed away on the ninth day of Teves, and it was on the tenth day of the month (Asara b’Teves) that the king of Babylon lay siege to Jerusalem, which eventually led to the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash on Tisha b’Av.

The eighth day of Teves saw the Greeks coercing the seventy-two Sages of Israel to translate the Torah into Greek — a most unfortunate occurrence that brought spiritual darkness upon the Jewish people. The last two lights of Chanukah that are lit in the month of Teves serve to illuminate all of its days and to nullify its forces of evil.

* * *

The Rambam in his later years had served as personal physician to the king of Egypt. Thus, upon the Rambam’s passing, the king ordered that a magnificent carriage drawn by six horses escort the holy man’s remains to Eretz Yisrael. The aron was escorted by thousands of weeping Jews.

Upon entrance to the Holy Land, hundreds more joined the procession — but along the way an argument broke out between the Jews of Jerusalem and those of Teverya; the former wanted their Rebbe to be interred in the holy city, while the latter insisted that he be interred next to his kin in Teverya.

In the midst of this altercation a band of robbers intercepted the group, forcing its members to abandon the carriage as they ran for cover. The horses then broke into a gallop and didn’t break stride until they arrived in Teverya, where they came to rest near the kevarim of the Rambam’s relatives.

Needless to say, this was taken to be the Rambam’s way of signaling his preferred burial place.

* * *

While the Baal HaTanya was imprisoned due to the false propaganda spread by the misnagdim, he once received a personal visit from a minister who asked him to explain the pasuk in Bereishis where Hashem asks Adam “Ayeika?” (Where are you?) The visitor was intrigued: Does God not know everything?

Parshas Chayyei Sarah

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 45 5773

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
November 9, 2012 – 24 Cheshvan 5772
4:23 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

Sabbath Ends: 5:30 p.m. NYC E.S.T.
Weekly Reading: Chayyei Sarah
Weekly Haftara: Ve’hamelech David (I Kings 1:1-31)
Daf Yomi: Shabbos 37
Mishna Yomit: Nazir 8:1-2
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 152:1 – 153:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Gezeilah v’Aveidah chap. 7 – 9
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:41 a.m. NYC E.S.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:08 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevorchim, we bless the new Moon. Rosh Chodesh Kislev is 1 day, this coming Thursday. The molad is Wednesday 25 minutes and 10 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18th of a minute) after 3:00 am (in Jerusalem).

Rosh Chodesh Kislev: Wednesday evening at Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Kaddish Yasom.

Thursday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Baal Keria recites half- Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va Letziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach – the chazzan recites half- Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Reader’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half Hallel, and before Aleinu they add Ein K’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, which we also add to Birkas Hamazon as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times. Kiddush Levana at first opportunity (we usually wait until Motza’ei Shabbos).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and yeshivas for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Parshas Bereishis

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 41                             5773

 

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
October 12, 2012 – 26 Tishrei 5773
5:59 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 7:03 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Bereishis
Weekly Haftara: Koh Amar Hashem (Isaiah 42:5- 43:10)
Daf Yomi: Shabbos 9
Mishna Yomit: Nedarim 11:10-11
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 135:6-8
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Tum’as Ochlin chap. 1-3
Earliest time for tallis and tefillin: 6:10 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:53 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is two days, Tuesday and Wednesday.

This Shabbos all tefillos as usual. There is no Hazkaras Neshamos (Av HaRachamim and Kel Malei) and at Mincha we do not say Tzidkas’cha. The molad is Monday afternoon, 41 minutes and 9 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) after 2:00 p.m. in Jerusalem.

Monday Eve: Rosh Chodesh,: at Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. (However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1 on Berachos 30b explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night.)

   Tuesday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah from the Ark. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Baal Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Reader’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Sefarad say shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel, and before Aleinu they add Ein KeElokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, which we also add to Birkas Hamazon, as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Tuesday evening and Wednesday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh, the order of the day is the same as yesterday. Kiddush Levana at first opportunity (from the third evening after the molad), Thursday evening, until the (entire) evening of Tuesday, the 15th of Cheshvan.

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142 – Y.K.

My Machberes

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Rabbis Defend Metzitzah B’Peh

One hundred twenty-five chassidishe and yeshivish rabbis have signed a kol koreh proclamation stating there will be no compliance with a proposed New York City Department of Health requirement for parents and mohelim (practitioners of circumcision) to sign an “informed consent” document before metzitzah b’peh is performed on infant males. The message they wish to convey is that many Orthodox Jews will not be intimidated into changing any aspect of the practice of bris milah with metzitzah b’peh.

Metzitzah b’peh is the oral suction of topical blood from the open wound of the removed foreskin. Immediately prior to the suction of topical blood, the mohel rinses his mouth with wine or alcohol.

The kol koreh

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe, is not a signatory to the kol koreh. Instead, he issued his own statement proclaiming his readiness to defend the minutest phases of the traditional custom with his very life, if necessary, in accordance with the Talmudic dictum (Gittin 47b). The Satmar Rebbe says he will never allow the signing of any document by a parent or mohel of his flock that might even hint at any compromise.

The kol koreh has the signatures of 125 chassidishe and yeshivish rabbis and promises more signatures to come. The list includes religious leaders such as Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe; Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, rosh yeshiva Torah Vodaas; Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, Karlsburger Rav; Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Ungar, Bobover Rebbe; Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach Beth Medrash Govoha; and Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, Skulener Rebbe.

In a separate statement the Igud HoRabbonim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America – while acknowledging views on both sides of the issue, declared its opposition to any government regulation of the circumcision rite. This echoes a similar statement issued recently by the Agudath Israel of Amerca.

Vishnitzer Chassunah

The Shabbos Shoftim aufruf of Aaron Teitelbaum, August 24-25, was celebrated in Williamsburg together with his father, Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Teitelbaum, Spinka rosh yeshiva in Boro Park, and his grandfather, Rabbi Shmuel Teitelbaum, rosh kollel Me’orer Hashachar, and son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Moskowitz, Shotzer Rebbe in Williamsburg and son-in-law of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

On Tuesday, August 28, the chassan was brought under the chuppah in front of the Vishnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey, where he met his kallah, the daughter of Rabbi Yitzchok Yechiel Mechel Moskowitz, Monsey Shotzer Rav; son of the Shotzer Rebbe in Williamsburg.

The chassan and kallah are grandchildren of the Shotzer Rebbe in Williamsburg and both are great-grandchildren of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. Shabbos Ki Seitzei Shevah Berachos were celebrated in Monsey. Motzaei Shabbos Shevah Berachos were held at the Shotzer Beis Medrash to honor the grandfather and Sunday night Shevah Berachos, honoring the great-grandfather, were celebrated at the Vishnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey.

Yerushalayim Nadvorna Rebbe Visits N.Y.

Rabbi Meir Yitzchok Isaac Rosenbaum, Yerushalayim Nadvorna Rebbe, arrived at Kennedy Airport at noon on Sunday, August 26, and was met by a large group of chassidim. He was brought to the home of Rabbi Naphtali Zvi Rubin, Monsey Dombrover Rav, where he stayed for Shabbos Ki Seitzei until Sunday, September 2, when he proceeded to the home of Moshe Beilush in Boro Park, where he remained until Monday, September 3. This is his first visit to America after being crowned as Yerusahalyim Nadvorna Rebbe upon the passing of his father in March.

The newly anointed Yerusahalyim Nadvorna Rebbe has earned a reputation as a chassidishe personality unique to the Nadvorna dynasty. His leadership in Jerusalem is the fulfillment of his grandfather’s original aspirations. In 1947, when the Devar Chaim came to Eretz Yisrael, he had hoped to rebuild his dynasty in Jerusalem. Sixty-five years later, it is his grandson who is cultivating Nadvorna chassidus in the holy city.

The Shabbos Ki Seitzei tefillos and tisch were conducted at the Dombrover Beis Medrash in Monsey. Rabbi Meir Yitzchok Isaac is the son of Rabbi Yaakov Yisochor Ber Rosenbaum, zt”l (1930-2012), Bnei Brak Nadvorna Rebbe and author of Beer Yaakov; son of Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Rosenbaum, zt”l (1903-1977), Nadvorna Rebbe and author of Devar Chaim who survived the Holocaust and moved to Palestine in 1947, establishing Yeshiva Mamar Mordechai in Bnei Brak; son of Rabbi Isomor Rosenbaum, zt”l (1886-1973), Nodvorna Rebbe who was anointed at age 15; son of Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, zt”l (1852-1908), Kretchnifer Rebbe; son of son of Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, zt”l (1852-1908), Kretchnifer Rebbe, the only person authorized by his father to issue kameyos (written amulets) to chassidim petitioning for heavenly help; son of Rabbi Mordechai Rosenbaum, zt”l (1824-1894), Nadvorna Rebbe and author of Mamar Mordechai; son of Rabbi Yesochor Bertche Leifer, zt”l (d. 1848), founding Nadvorna Rebbe and author of Sisrei Torah.

Preparations For Satmar Chassunah

The first shidduch of a grandchild of Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe, was realized on Sunday, November 6, 2011, when Chaim Hersh (Chaim Zvi) Rosenberger was engaged to the daughter of Rabbi Asher Anshel Scher, Classoner Rav. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yitzchok Rosenberger, Lee Gardens Satmar dayan and son of Rabbi Yehoshua Rosenberger, rav of Kiryas R’ma in Beit Shemesh and member dayan of the Eidah Hacharedis of Jerusalem. Rabbi Yitzchok Rosenberger is a son-in-law of the Satmar Rebbe and also serves as rosh yeshiva in the Satmar Yeshiva.

Parshas Pinchas

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 28 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
July 13, 2012 – 23 Tammuz 5772
8:07 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:24 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Pinchas
Weekly Haftara: Divrei Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 53
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 2:7-8
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 86:1 – 87:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Ma’aser chap. 7-9
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:30 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:19 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 1

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim. Rosh Chodesh Av is one day, this coming Friday.

The molad is Thursday morning, 29 minutes, 6 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 12:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

Rosh Chodesh Av, Thursday Evening. At Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the Chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel followed by Aleinu, and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Friday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah from the ark. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Ba’al Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the Chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitations (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel. Before Aleinu they add Ein Ke’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace after Meals we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in the Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Kiddush Levana: we wait until Motza’ei Tisha BeAv.

As we have now entered the Nine-Day period of mourning for the destruction of our Beth Hamikdash, we refrain from numerous activities, such as bathing with hot or cold water. We are proscribed from cutting our hair or nails. We do not launder clothing until after Tisha BeAv, nor do we eat meat or drink wine, with the exception of the Sabbath or a Seudas Mitzva such as a Bris or Siyum Masechta (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 549-569 for a complete review of the laws for this period).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Parshas Shelach

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 24 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
June 15, 2012 – 25 Sivan 5772
8:09 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:25 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Shelach
Weekly Haftara: Vayishlach Yehoshua (Joshua 2:1-24)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 25
Mishna Yomit: Yevamos 12:6-13:1
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 64:4-65:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Shavu’os chap. 1-3
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:16 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:10 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 3

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevorchim. Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is two days, this coming Wednesday and Thursday. The molad is Tuesday Morning, 45 minutes, 5 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) after 11 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

Rosh Chodesh, Tuesday evening: At Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. (However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo – at Maariv only – one does not repeat: see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel, followed by Aleinu and Kaddish Yasom.

Wednesday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh. Following chazzan’s repetition we say half Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-5) and call four aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael). The Ba’al Keriah recites half Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Ark, Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon – we delete Lamenatze’ach, the chazzan recites half Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by the chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half Hallel. Before Aleinu they add Ein K’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, followed by the chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace after Meals we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in the Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh, the order of the day is the same as the preceding day. Kiddush Levana at first opportunity.

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapters 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Christie’s Mahzor: At Home in Florence?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Christie’s Paris
Auction: Importants Livres Anciens, Livres d’Artistes et Manuscrits
Viewing: May 4 – 10, 2012
Auction: May 11: 2pm
9, Avenue Matignon
75008 Paris, France

The auction at Christie’s in Paris this May 11 of a Tuscan Mahzor, created and illuminated in the 1490’s, will be an extraordinary event. This rare example of illuminated Jewish art has not been seen publically in over 500 years and, aside from tantalizing internal suggestions, lacks conclusive identification of the scribe and illuminators. Because the gold-tooled goatskin binding was made about 50 years after the manuscript and has a different coat of arms than those found in the machzor, it is assumed that this prayerbook may have quickly changed hands. Aside from the 17th century censor’s notations, all that is known is that the manuscript was sold sometime before 1908 in Frankfort and then noted in Elkan Nathan Adler’s important Jewish Travellers in 1930. One thing that is certain, from both the style and content of the illuminations, the Jewish family who commissioned it were very comfortable in Renaissance Florence where they probably lived. Or were they?

The style of the frontispiece and the following 68 of 422 folios (pages front and back) are said to be characteristic of the noted Christian illuminator Boccardino il vecchio (1460 – 1529). His patrons included the Medici, rulers of Florence at the time, and Giorgio Vasari in Lives of the Artists noted him as a master miniaturist. For a Florentine Jewish family to employ an artist of such renown is not surprising since the community was very close to the Medici family, so much so that Lorenzo il Magnifico (1449 – 1492), whose humanistic agenda supported Jewish scholarship, was considered a protector.

The frontispiece, “Yis’barach,” apparently the beginning a compilation of verses, is notable for the delicate floral decoration framing medallions of animals in landscapes and cameo heads. In another of the eight pages that feature significant decoration (including 4 full page illuminations), a liturgical poem is framed by a similar motif of floral decorations typical of Florentine Renaissance manuscripts. One can make out a snail creeping up the foliage as well as a delicate butterfly at the top of the left border. The portrait cameo features a noble profile with an armillary sphere and the name Dovid in Hebrew on the right. The armillary sphere was model of celestial objects orbiting the earth and was frequently used as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom that probably referred to the manuscript’s first owner, possibly named David. The equally elaborate initial word panel, “V’atah Hashem,” in gold leaf against a deep red ground, features an unusual Magen Dovid that may also allude to the first owner’s name. Additionally the fleur de lys above the name of God seems to refer to the city-state of Florence itself, notably identified by fleur de lys with the unique spikes between its pedals.

Mahzor; “Matzah & Maror” illuminated manuscript (ca. 1490s). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd, 2012

Kay Sutton, Christie’s Director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Ilana Tahan, head of the British Library’s Hebrew collections have examined this manuscript and feel that the illuminations after 68v were done by followers or the workshop of Boccardino. Additionally some images may actually be from an untrained Jewish hand, most notably the page in the Haggadah section depicting Matzah and Maror. It is clear the scribe left space for illustrations and all three works here exhibit an inexperienced hand distinct from the sophisticated images on the earlier pages. Both “matzah zoh” and “maror zeh” feature seated figures literally presenting the item at hand. The man with the maror is completely out of scale with the object that the maror is resting on. Both the chairs and the stand feature prominent Magen Davids at their base and the fantastical chair also sports a fleur de lys at its top.

The page featuring the Kedushah for Shabbos Shemoneh Esrei is typical of the more refined illuminations; the image of a crown (Kingship is a typical Sephardic designation of this section) announces that we effectively crown Hashem with the words of the Kedushah. The word panel “Moses rejoiced” is a charming image of a blond Moses, rays of light emanating from his head, kneeling and wearing a sumptuous red robe as he receives two tablets from the unseen Divine Presence in the upper right corner. Set in a pristine landscape the entire scene radiates optimism and joy that beautifully reflects the emotions expressed in this Shabbos prayer.

In these images, almost certainly done by non-Jewish artists, the imagery can present iconographical problems. The fully illuminated Kol Nidarim page (notice the Italian “Minhag bnei Roma” Hebrew version of the prayer) introducing the Yom Kippur evening service is bordered by two medallions with stock Renaissance portraits, two classical nude putti presenting a roundel with a seven-branched plant and finally one medallion with a peacock. The intended meanings, if any, are not clear. Above the gold leaf word panel “Kol” is an image of a scarlet robed individual, without tallis, head uncovered, pointing to the open Aron displaying an open, but blank, book. The idea in general is understood but without the specifics of a Jewish service.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/christies-mahzor-at-home-in-florence/2012/05/11/

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