Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > The National Library at the Louvre

The National Library at the Louvre

By special invitation of the Louvre, the National Library of Israel recently took part in a prominent exhibition at the renowned French institution entitled "Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain". The Library loaned one of its most prized rare items, a signed copy of Maimonides' Commentary on the Mishnah, to be put on display as part of the exhibition. Dr. Aviad Stollman, the National Library's Head of Collections, also gave a featured lecture on the topic of Maimonides.  Dr. Stollman stated that, "The National Library of Israel was honored to enable the Louvre, renowned for its impressive and extensive collections, to feature the Library's Commentary on the Mishnah as an integral part of this exhibition."

Dr. Stollman traveled to Paris to present a lecture before an audience of over 300 at the Louvre, entitled "Maimonides and his Commentaries: Intellectual and Geographic Journeys". Stollman told the story of the remarkable Maimonides, a Mediterranean thinker whose journeys from Spain to Egypt via North Africa shaped his intellectual life. He also highlighted the Judaeo-Arabic language in which the Commentaries were written, a linguistic platform which facilitated and stimulated cross-cultural exchange between Islam and Judaism, as well as the journeys of the writings themselves: beginning with drafts written during his sea voyages to final versions written in Fustat, Egypt. The journey of many of Maimonides' original works does not end there, however, as some of his descendants held on to manuscripts as they left Egypt in the 14th century and settled in Aleppo, Syria. Three centuries later British missionaries found them there, bringing them back to England, where some are still among Oxford's collections.
The exhibition at the Louvre will be held through January 2015, after which it will move to Morocco. Although Maimonides' Commentary will be returned to its rightful home in the National Library of Israel, preparations are underway to have a digital version of the manuscript highlighted as part of the exhibition's Moroccan segment.