Collections > Judaica > Manuscripts


 Manuscripts Collection

​The Library is home to some 10,000 Hebrew manuscripts, wedding contracts and notes, as well as some 70,000 facsimiles of manuscripts from libraries around the world. The following are some of the most famous and important items in the collection:

The Worms Mahzor (high holyday prayer book) – this prayer book was used for three centuries in the synagogue in Worms, a city in the Rhine Valley in southwest Germany, until the synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis on “Kristallnacht” in November 1938. The prayer book was saved by the archivist of Worms, who hid it in the city’s cathedral. In 1957, after a court case in Germany, the prayer book was transferred to the Library in Jerusalem.

Maimonides’ commentary on​ the Mishna – a commentary written in Judeo-Arabic covering sections of the Mishna: the order Moed (from the middle of tractate Eruvin) and the order Nashim. The autograph dates to the second half of the twelfth century. The titles are in square Sephardic script, with corrections and amendments in the author’s own handwriting. Comments were added in the margins by Rabbi Avraham HaHasid, Rabbi David HaNagid HaSheni, and others.
The David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project

Maimonides’ Mishne Torah, written in Spain around 130—1350. The manuscript is written in square Sephardic script. This is probably the most impressive of the illuminated manuscripts of this work. The scribe, resident in Spain, brought the handwriting to the level of a master art. The illuminations were added in Italy around 1400. From 1880, this manuscript was owned by several Jews in Frankfurt. In 1966, it was purchased by the Library.

Theological manuscripts of Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727). Newton was one of the greatest physicists of all times. The manuscripts in this collection address such subjects as Biblical exegesis, discussion of the structure of the Sanctuary and Temple, apocalyptic calculations, alchemy and ancient history. The treasures in this exhibition invite a fresh perspective on such conventional dichotomies as religious versus science or innovation versus tradition.
The David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project