Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ica were p u rch a sed in Italy, even th o u g h m any o f th em o r ig ­
ina ted in A shkenaz o r Spain . I t is h a rd ly su rp r is in g , th e re fo re ,
to f ind th a t some o f th e la rge s t a n d most im p o r ta n t co llections
in ex is tence a re hou sed in I ta lian libraries. T h e Pa la tina L ib ra ry
in P a rm a boasts Ita ly ’s la rges t collection . Based u p o n th e col­
lection o f 1,400 MSS p u rc h a sed f rom th e scho la r G.B. d e Rossi
in 1816 an d several h u n d r e d add ition a l MSS acq u ired la te r in
th e cen tu ry , th e P a rm a lib rary has served as one o f th e p rem ie r
cen te rs fo r re sea rch in Ju d a ic a fo r ove r a h u n d r e d years.
Am ong its tre a su re s a re an c ien t biblical m anu sc r ip ts , ta lm ud ic
works (the ‘P a rm a M ishna MS’), p ra y e r books an d works in th e
sciences an d ph ilosophy . O ve r 200 o f th e books a re rich ly il­
lum ina ted .
Second in size, i f no t in im po r tan ce , is th e co llection o f ove r
600 MSS, a lm ost all o f them med ieval, in th e Vatican lib rary .
R um o rs , mostly u n fo u n d e d , a b o u n d co n c e rn in g leg end a ry
tre a su re s b u r ied in th e V a tican ’s sec re t vaults, b u t th e vo lum es
on th e op en shelves con ta in e n o u g h tre a su re s to satisfy th e m ost
voracious app e tite : r a re volum es o f th e T a lm u d , m ost copies
o f which were b u rn e d d u r in g the M idd le Ages; a Bible d a te d
979; the two earliest copies o f the Sifra , one d a te d 1073 an d
the o th e r d a t in g back possibly to th e 9 th cen tu ry , m ak ing it
one o f the ea rlies t ex ta n t H eb rew MSS; an d , o f cou rse , th e
u n iqu e N eofiti MS o f the T a rg um Y erusha lm i. Substan tia l col­
lections o f H eb rew MSS a re fo u n d in libraries in Rome, F lo r ­
ence, Milan, Bologna an d M an tua , as well as in m any o f th e
sm a ller cities and towns in Italy.
In Spain , which h ad the la rges t an d most v ib ran t Jew ish com ­
m un ity d u r in g the M iddle Ages, th e re rem a in few er th a n 400
H eb rew MSS, many o f th em w r itten by conve rts a f te r th e e x ­
pu lsion o r im p o r ted from Italy in th e 19th c en tu ry . T h e m ost
im p o r ta n t collections a re in th e Escorial lib ra ry n e a r M ad r id ,
an d in th e Un iversity an d N a tiona l lib ra ries in M ad rid .
In the N e th e r lan d s th e re a re H eb rew MSS in th e Rosen tha l
collection in th e Un iversity lib rary in Am s te rd am . In a d d i t io n
to some im p o r ta n t med ieval books, this lib ra ry also has m uch
m a te r ia l re la t in g to th e social a n d cu ltu ra l h isto ry o f th e Jew s
in 18 th -cen tu ry G e rm any an d H o lland . T h e r e a re also th e Ets
Haim lib ra ry in Am s te rd am , with its co llection on th e S ep h a rd i
comm un ity o f H o lland (p resen tly on d epo s i t a t th e Jew ish N a ­