About a year and a half ago, the National Library got word regarding the existence of a stash, a genizah, of Jewish manuscripts from Afghanistan. The news was backed by numerous photographs. The manuscripts left Afghanistan and reached antiquaries in different countries, bound together in bundles of varying sizes.
The material includes many dozens of fragments in Hebrew, in Judeo-Arabic, in Judeo-Persian and in Muslim Arabic. The documents written in Muslim Arabic are dated and their content is of a legal nature. Based on these items, we can date the Afghan genizah to approximately the first half of the 11th century. The National Library has now purchased 29 of these fragments. This lot includes fragments of commentaries by Rav Sa'adia Gaon in Judeo Arabic, letters and other documents in Judeo-Persian and legal documents in Arabic. This is an extremely important finding, being a unique testimony, both in nature and in volume, of the cultural history of a Jewish community in an area which in the 11th century included highly important political, cultural and economical centers. To this day we have not seen Jewish findings of such magnitude and importance from this area. Everything indicates that the findings are authentic, as attested by the experts consulted by the National Library. The National Library of Israel places the utmost importance in having all the findings of this unique genizah form part of its collection, since by law its mandate is to preserve the national memory of the Jewish People. The present purchase is a first step in this direction. Several of the items can now be viewed online in the gallery included here.