Skip to main content

Full text of "Ḥefeṣ B. Yaṣliaḥ's Lost Book of Precepts"

See other formats


STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



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- 

317 



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, 
part 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, 
1. 3- 

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 
blank. 

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 
important work. 

Whether the Responsa belong to Ifjefes b. Yasliah or not I am 
for the moment not prepared to decide. No authorities whatsoever 
are mentioned. 

Dropsie College B. Halper