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Parashat Shelach-Lekha

Manuscript. Parchment. Probably written in Persia in 1106. 34 fols., 122x105mm. Oriental square script, seven lines per page. Brown leather binding on wooden boards, blind-tooled with geometric interlacings. The text features vocalization, accents, Masorah Magna and Parva.

The text follows the Ben Naftali tradition in many places, while the tradition that ultimately prevailed was the Ben Asher tradition. Aharon Ben Moses and Moses Ben Naftali, who lived in the 10th century, disagreed as to how certain parts of the Torah should be read and vocalized. Both ascribed to the Tiberian tradition, and the dispute between them revolved around issues such as the reading of the name "Issachar". Ben Asher claimed that it should be read "Yisachar", while Ben Naftali favored the pronunciation "Yisaschar".

The custom of copying individual portions from the Pentateuch is probably influenced by the Muslim custom of copying certain fixed parts of the Quran. The decorations are also reminiscent of those appearing in eastern versions of the Quran from the same period, the early 12th century. Another indication of Muslim influence appears at the beginning of the portion, in decorations that are borrowed from those used to indicate the end of a verse in the Quran. The manuscript opens and closes with "carpet" pages representing doors, in gold, blue and some red, with golden foliage in geometrical bars and delicate palmette motifs.

The parasha comprises four sedarim (sections), according to the ancient Palestinian triennial division. The Palestinian custom differed from the practice in Babylon, where the entire Torah was read in a single year. The opening of each seder marked with the Hebrew letter samekh (the first letter of the word "seder").
A note in the text itself identifies the copiest and vocalizer as Isaac Ben Abraham Halevy. The date of creation appears alongside in a different hand: 4866.


Parashat Shelach-Lekha