CAJS Rar ms 533: Prayer Book

On March 16 we stepped out to the Katz Center with cataloger Louis Meiselman to have a look at CAJS Rar Ms 533, a miniature manuscript of the order of the counting of the Omer. It was written in Amsterdam, Netherlands for Yaʻaḳov ben Yehuda (יעקב בן יהודא; the spelling indicates this patron was Ashkenazic-Germanic), in 1765-1766. The information in this blog post is drawn from Louis’s catalog record and comes from the extensive research that he undertook to prepare it.

The textual contents of CAJS Rar Ms 533 includes the text of the blessing (f. 2r) followed by the daily counting of days and weeks (f. 2r-5r), Psalms LIVII and Ribono shel ʻolam (a cabalistic benediction; f. 5r), Additional daily Psalms (possibly to follow the nightly Omer counting on Sunday-Thursday nights; f. 7r-9v); finally, the Blessing of the moon (f. 9v-11v). The liturgy (blessings and Psalms) is the Ashkenazic rite, which is unusual because the scribe, Jekuthiel b. Isaac Sofer of Amsterdam, was Sephardic, and his other surviving manuscripts all follow the Sephardic rite.

CAJS Rar Ms 533, part of the Blessing of the moon, f. 9v-10r.

The scribe wrote in a variety of clear scripts. The main text is written in a central European square script of the 18th century (a calligraphic artistic and ritual letter hybrid with crowns, tagin); first paragraph of the Blessing of the New Moon is vocalized (f. 10r, see above); the title, dedication, and final Amen selah in Dutch-Ashkenazic calligraphic script (f. 1r, 11v); and instructions are written in European-Sephardic semicursive script. Aside from the variety of scripts the manuscript is fairly plain, aside from two four-dot diamonds around Amen selah (f. 11v).

CAJS Rar Ms 533, Dutch-Ashkenazic calligraphic script and four-dot diamonds around Amen selah on 11v

The binding is a contemporary dark green calf with gilt tooled boards (flower urns and leaves) and spine (lines and stars, letters ס”ע on red lettering piece).

CAJS Rar Ms 533 was written in Amsterdam, Netherlands for Yaʻaḳov ben Yehuda (יעקב בן יהודא0). The spelling indicates this patron was Ashkenazic-Germanic, but we only know his Hebrew name so it’s difficult to trace who he was.

Find out more about CAJS Rar Ms 533 by reading the full records on Franklin: https://franklin.library.upenn.edu/catalog/FRANKLIN_9977621537603681

You can watch the recording of the March 9 Coffee With A Codex here.

We host Coffee With A Codex every Wednesday at 12pm ET / 5pm GMT on Zoom. For a schedule three weeks ahead, visit our main page here.

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