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HEFES B. YASLIAH'S LOST BOOK OF PRECEPTS
Whece engaged in preparing a descriptive catalogue of the
Genizah fragments which are now at the Dropsie College, I came
across a codex of 36*4 paper leaves written in Arabic. This
fragment forms part of a collection which came from the Cairo
Genizah. It was acquired in 1891 by Dr. Cyrus Adler who recently
presented it to the Dropsie College.
There are in this fragment six fascicles which are unequal in
the number of their leaves, and are fastened together by a string.
Fascicle 1 has four leaves;
Fascicle 2 has six leaves ;
Fascicle 3 has three leaves;
Fascicle 4 has eight leaves ;
Fascicle 5 has twelve leaves;
Fascicle 6 has three and a half leaves.
The measurements of the leaves is 7% x sA ins. (= 17.6
x 13. s cm.).
Fascicle 1 hangs rather loosely, and even a superficial glance
will detect that some fascicles are missing between fascicle I and
fascicle 2. Moreover fascicle 1, although written probably by the
same hand as the others, differs from the rest in two respects:
1) The paper is of a lighter hue; 2) the number of lines
on a page of fascicle 1 ranges between 18 and 19, whereas the
pages of the other fascicles have 23, 24 and 25 lines.
After a careful perusal of this MS., I found that fascicle 1 is
part of a book of Responsa on widely different subjects, while the
others form part of the Book of Precepts of Uefes b. Ya§liah.
As is well known, that Gaon, or ^OPK DfcO, as he is styled in our
codex, composed a Book of Precepts which was quoted with great
respect by the best mediaeval Jewish authorities. No trace, how-
3l8 THfi JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIfiW
ever, of this book has been found in modern times (comp. L.
Ginzberg, Jewish Encyclopedia, s. v.; S. A. Poznariski, "ISIS
bxiE", s. v.; A. Marx, JQR., New Series, I, 439).
From the fragment in question we may safely infer that the
Book was divided into parts (?VS), sections (DDp), and precepts
(nyiE*.) Our MS. begins with the middle of precept 8, section 3,
Section 3 of part 3 contained 9 precepts, and ends on fol.
6b, 1. 22.
Section 4 of Part 3 contains 11 precepts which end on fol. 12b,
Part 4 contains 3 sections, all of which together have 36 pre-
cepts. This part begins on fol. 12b, 1. 4, and ends on fol. 29a, 1. 16.
It bears the superscription DN") f^ban yxiB'bs )D ibn bttsbx
mbr p r an ^k-
Part S contains 9 precepts, and bears a similar superscription.
It begins on fol. 29a, 1. 17. We only reach as far as precept 3
which is rather a long one. It begins on fol. 310, 1. IS, and con-
tinues till the end of 36a, when the MS. breaks off. Fol. 36b is
On the whole the MS. is well preserved, and the writing is the
ordinary square with a tendency to cursiveness. By all likelihood
the MS. dates from the eleventh century.
At some future date I hope to prepare an edition of this
fragment, and supply it with a translation, introduction, and notes.
But for the present I thought it worth while to announce to
scholars interested in this subject the existence of this Book of
Precepts, as it may lead others to discover more leaves of this
Whether the Responsa belong to Ifjefes b. Yasliah or not I am
for the moment not prepared to decide. No authorities whatsoever
Dropsie College B. Halper