Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Historical candle-lighting times pt II; plus, the pleasant discoveries inside used books.

This post is an addendum to my earlier post about the time's for lighting shabbos candles in London circa 1840 (see here).

But first a detour. Here you can read or download Elias Haim Lindo's 64 year Jewish calendar from 1838.

One of the things which is great about library books--really old books in general, but of course those are found in great abundance in libraries--is that they often contain annotations by a former owner or reader. The book הנ"ל is a good case in point. It is on Google Books, digitized from Harvard's library. But it contains the following additions which give it a real person touch:

Not only are these a personal touch, but the latest note is from 1907, fully 70 years after the book was published. Perhaps the book was not acquired by a member of this family as early as 1838, but it certainly is suggestive. Furthermore, one of the names is a boy called חיים בן חיים, a name which is suggestive of the tragedy of a boy who lost his father before he was born. There may be other notes, I didn't look.

On this point, as Google Books contains digital copies from great libraries, many of the books were formally owned by great scholars. Thus, their version of Mortimer Cohen's Jacob Emden, a Man of Controversy was owned by Salo Baron, who actually wrote a critical review of the book which appeared in Jewish Social Studies (a copy of which is included with, and perhaps bound in this book itself). Unfortunately most of these notes are barely readable, but most are simply question marks, which at least indicate that these are points by which Baron wanted further clarification, or a more direct source, or had some question. So this is more theoretically interesting and useful than it actually is, although it is interesting to see that many of his corrections are page numbers in sources (and Hebrew spelling) which shows that Baron indeed looked up sources, at least when reviewing a book.

In any case, the real point of this post was the image below, from the 64-year calendar. As you can see, the time given for when shabbos ends is rounded off to the fives, but is still more specific than every half hour:

Also have a look at pg 101, which lists English Jewish institutions, their dates of establishment and a word or two about them. For example:

A bris milah gemach (for Ashkenazim!) founded in 1745:

Some of the institutions had great, picturesque names. For example, from 1830:

The book also includes an interesting chronological table from the creation to the present (1830s) and words of approbation from the Chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschell and acting Sephardic Chief Rabbi David Meldola.

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