Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello, Shabbetai Tzvi!

While searching for something else I came across this interesting letter from the rabbis and parnassim of Amsterdam to Shabbetai Sevi. From the Ets Haim Library web site.

Here are a couple of other nice images:

1. From a 17th century calligrapher's sample book. You could commission something and choose the style of writing. As you can see, it includes a Hebrew sample as well:

2. Musical notation for the chorale singing of Befi Yesarim (בפי ישרים) in the synagogue.

By some coincidence, I see that the library was closed for the past two years due to renovations, but it is scheduled to be open to the public once again, possibly this Monday! (link)


  1. This letter has a lot more class than yellow flags.

  2. S., is a rough translation available? I couldn't read the Sefardic? cursive writing. Are there any surprises about the identities of the signatories to this, presumably, laudatory letter to Shabbetai Zvi? I note that the large majority signed in secular, i.e., European script

  3. The music piece looks nice. Is the rest of it online?

  4. Mar G, no. These are only samples of some of the highlights of their collection.

    By the way, for those who are unsure of the significance, the Ets Chaim library is the oldest functioning Jewish library in Europe, and probably the world. It is (or was) attached to the Etz Chaim Midrash (i.e., yeshiva) and the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam. I don't know the details, and I'm probably not going to look into it, but it certainly dates from the 17th century, if not the 16th.

    Y. Aharon, to be honest I haven't looked at it yet. I'll have to enhance it to be able to really read - if I'm lucky. I'll have a look later. Bear in mind that in all likelihood this letter has already been published. If so, I'll try to find out where.

  5. Actually, a few more pages of the music is online. See here

  6. For starters, it appears that all or most of the text was published in מאוצרות ספריית עץ - חיים/ מונטזינוס - תערוכהליד בית המדרש היהודי הפורטוגלי "עץ - חיים", אמסטרדם (link), an exhibition catalog for a 1980 exhibit at the JNUL.

    Michael Judah Leon was the scribe of the community, and a worker in Menasseh ben Israel's printing press. Elijah, his son, was probably his replacement scribe is my guess, hence his enlarged John Hancock.

  7. To be more precise, the Hebrew fonts used by Menasseh were designed - i.e, written - by Michael Judah Leon.

  8. are you going to the opening?

  9. "Bear in mind that in all likelihood this letter has already been published. If so, I'll try to find out where."

    You'll try and I'm sure you will. It would only be fitting for this blog :).

  10. S. what is the provenance of that musical sheet? I note that it takes a section from the Shabbat/yom tov davening and creates a musical composition replete with violin accompaniment and a mixed choir with voices ranging from soprano to basso. Is it meant to be used in schul, or is it part of a concert?

  11. Hello, Shabbetai Zvi
    Goodbye, heart



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