Page 188 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

Book of Creation
, implores the copyists in a rhymed appeal
not to omit his name. He addresses his appeal to them as follows:
May the great peace, the blessings and good comfort of
Almighty God come to everyone who copies out this book of
my studies. May God bring him salvation if he copies it out in
the name of Shabbetai, if only he writes my name
unchanged and erases it not from my book of secrets. . . .
And I declare that, if he does not fulfill this, the just God will
give me my justice . . .
Thus we find that from the time of the redaction of the Talmud
to that of Judah Hasid and Eleazar of Worms various practices
prevailed among the authors of Hebrew books.
1. Signing one’s name in an acrostic formed by the first letters
of each line.
2. Mentioning the name of the author as per the appeal of
Shabbetai Donnolo and in accordance with the practice of many
scholars of his time.
3. Judah Hasid’s effort to curtail the custom and to return to
the practice of anonymity.
4. Eleazar of Worms’ suggestion to authors to indicate their
names by means of talmudic allusions.
5. The widespread and direct acknowledgement of author­
ship thereafter by scholars.
Some five centuries ago the authors of rabbinic works began
not only to affix their names to their books but also to allude to
their identity by means of the titles. One of the first to follow this
practice in the 15th century was Yosef Habib, who called his book
Nimmukei Yosef
(Joseph’s Arguments). During the same period
Yizhak Arama entitled his commentary on the Torah
(The Binding of Isaac) and Yaakov ben Habib called his
compilation of talmudic aggadah
E in Yaakov
(Jacob’s Fountain).
At times, later generations felt that a title was too pretentious, and
while a book was accepted, its name could be rejected. This
occurred in the case of Moshe Alshekh who called his commen­
tary on the Torah
Torat Moshe
(Moses’ Torah), but it became
known as the “Alshekh.”
The same practice was followed by well-known maskilim dur­