Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A copy of the Aleppo Codex in the Rema's synagogue in Cracow; also, minor C.D. Ginsburg errors

There's an interesting bit in C.D. Ginsburg's Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Bible (pp. 241-242):

As you can see, he calls attention to an interesting fact (top pg. 242): The Rema synagogue in Cracow had a Bible manuscript which belonged to him (Rema = R. Moshe Isserles). The particular manuscript cost 100 ducats (that must have been expensive).

Ginsburg gives the reference (Ha-maggid) and from there we can see that he made some mistakes. First of all, the manuscript was not a copy of the Cairo Codex by Moshe ben Asher. It was a copy of the Aleppo Codex, written partly by his son Aharon (ben Moshe ben Asher). A minor quibble is that according to the Ha-maggid article Ginsburg refers to, this codex was sent to R. Isserles in the year ש"ל corresponding to 1569/ 70, and not 1530 (when Rema was only 10 years old). Either math was not his suit, or the ל through him off, which is understandable. He also left out a couple of interesting points, namely that the manuscript was sent to Rema by R. Yosef Caro (!), and Rema used the manuscript to write a Torah scroll. Both the manuscript and Torah were still in that synagogue in the 20th century, only to disappear during the Holocaust.

Although one must be careful to say that this manuscript was allegedly copied from the Aleppo Codex, it did contain part of the lost colophon of the Aleppo Codex, in conformity with a scribal practice of copying colophons from manuscripts for proof of its provenance.

The relevant column in Ha-maggid (26 Marcheshvan 5718/ 13 November 1857; two part column on Kracow by Mordechai Weissmann) follows:

Weissmann copied it from the manuscript (תיקון סופרים) , which he says he could not completely read, so I'm not sure how reliable his transcription is, but it is interesting that he gives אהרון בן מר רב אשי, an Aramaic diminutive form of the name, instead of אהרן בן מר רב אשר. In the first issue of Textus (1960) Izhak Ben-Zvi published the complete text of this colophon as copied carefully by R. Meir Nehmad (and printed in his book מאמר חקירה על הכתר היקר הנקרא כתר ארם צובה Aleppo, 1933). There it is given as אשר and not אשי. Paranthetically, Ben-Zvi (d. 1963) asked anyone who had any information about either the Rema's Torah or the manuscript to contact him.

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