Written in northern Italy in 1479, this Haggadah is one of the most exquisite sections of the Israel Museum's Rothschild Miscellany, a manuscript unrivalled in richness and scope. Medieval haggadot are among the most extensively decorated of all types of Hebrew manuscript, but the Rothschild Haggadah is exceptional for its elegant and elaborate illustrations of the Passover story. The original owner, Moses ben Yekutiel Hakohen, must have been a prosperous man who commissioned a manuscript to reflect his sophisticated and learned background, because the manuscript is remarkable not only for the fine quality of its illumination but for the richness of its marginal texts. This copiously illuminated and illustrated Haggadah comprises the Ashkenazi Passover-eve service as we know it today (except for Grace after Meals which was deliberately omitted by the scribe) as the main text in the centre of the page. In the margins is Maimonides' Hilkhot Hamez Umatsah, 'Laws Concerning Leavened and Unleavened Bread' a classical survey of Passover and its ceremonies. In addition, the exquisitely illuminated section devoted to the piyyutim (liturgical poems and songs) for all four evenings of the festival of Passover has been included, in the margins of which is a medieval text on weights and measures.
The Rothschild Haggadah
London: Facsimile Editions Ltd., 2000
- Commentary (English) by Schonfield, J.; Loewe, R.; Fishof, I.; Falter, J.
- Limited Edition: 550 copies
- This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).
Gold foil leaf has been applied to a raised surface on each page using a special hand process that closely replicates the burnished gold of the original. Powdered gold was applied to all the illustrations that contain it in the original manuscript. The texts of the Haggadah and of the piyyutim have been translated by Professor Raphael Loewe (Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew Emeritus, University College London) and Jeremy Schonfield (Mason Lecturer, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies). Two of the sequences of piyyutim translated by Professor Loewe into English verse have never been made available in English before. Jeremy Schonfield has written an informative introduction to the texts in the manuscript and to the themes of Passover. Professor Loewe has also written a summary of the marginal texts on numismatics, weights and measures and Maimonides laws concerning Passover. Iris Fishof, formerly Chief Curator of Judaica & Jewish Ethnography at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem has provided a foreword in which she gives the background to the acquisition of this manuscript, one of the Israel Museum's greatest treasures and Joseph Falter wrote the Preface.
Fine white vellum
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