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Obj. ID: 23159
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Vienna Miscellany, Germany, c.1402/3

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Unknown,

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Vienna Miscellany | Unknown
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Austria | Vienna | Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB)
| Cod. Hebr. 12a (Schwartz, No. 20)
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Fols. 164v-165 have several large ink stains. Many folios have holes in them which were most probably there at the time the manuscript was produced since the scribe takes them into consideration when writing the text (e.g., fols. 270). Many folios have marks of sewing, some with what looks like original threads remaining (fol. 206v, 289v, 290, 346). On fol. 180v there is a remaining pink thread, though we do not know when it was sewed into the manuscript.
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Pentateuch, Haftarot, SeMaK and Siddur according to Ashkenazi rite (including Haggadah for Passover, prayers for the New Year and the Day of Atonement), all surrounded by various commentaries. The manuscript also contains several complete commentary works and examples of divorce agreements. 1. Pentateuch and SeMaK with commentary (fols. 1-311): I. Pentateuch in square script vocalized and punctuated with Rashi's commentary in semi-cursive script, alternated with the corresponding verses of the Pentateuch written in the main text in two columns: Genesis (fols. 1-48v); Exodus (fols. 49-60v, 64v-72, 82v-87, 100v-114v, 115v-119v); Leviticus (fols. 119v-124, 126-128v, 132-135v, 137-144v, 146v-149, 154-158v, 165-170v); Numbers (170v-179, 179v-188, 189v-204v, 208-211, 215-218); Deuteronomy (218-225v, 230-233v, 239- 243v, 247-250, 271-274,296-302, 304-307, 309-311). The text is written in two text columns. The continuity of the Biblical text is sometimes interrupted by sections of the SeMaK (see category 1.IV, below). II. Targum Onkelus, flanking the main text on either side of the page, written mostly in two narrow columns on almost every page of the Pentateuch text. III. Commentaries surrounding the main text and Onkelus, set on the margins of the page (the setting varies): a. Sefer Panach Raza by Yitzhak ben Yehuda (fols. 2-311v; Opening on the right side of the lower margin of fol. 2, with the words: לא מצי למימר שמתחילה ברא השם...]). b. Compilation of additional commentaries (fols.1-311), including large parts of Massorah commentary and many numerical calculations on the Pentateuch (Opening on the left side of the lower margin of fol. 2, with the words: בראשית בגימ' בתורה יצר...). IV. SeMaK (Sefer Mitzvot Katan - Small Book of Precepts composed by Isaac son of Joseph of Corbeil) including annotations by Moses of Zurich. The text of the SeMaK appears alternating with the text of the Pentateuch (as mentioned before in category 1I): fols. 7, 15-15v, 35, 60v-64v, 72-82v, 87-100, 114v, 115-115v, 124-126, 129-132, 135v-136v, 139, 141v, 144v-146v, 149-154, 158v-164v, 167, 179-179v, 188v-189v, 192v, 204v-208, 211-215, 222, 225v-230, 233v, 253v-239, 243v-246v, 250-271, 274-296, 300v, 302-303v, 307-309). Surrounding the SeMaK are sections from other various treatises and commentators which together with the SeMaK form the shape of the columns. IV. Compilation of Customs (fols. 312) written in three columns surrounding the opening page of the haftarot, which appear in the upper section of the right column. The text opens with the words: ר"ח שחל להיות מוציאי שתי תורות... , titled above in the upper margin: "Customs I have toiled over and found" (מנהגים אשר יגעתי ומצאתי) mentioning the city of Speyer and Isaac bar Dorbelo (;ר' יצחק בר דורבלו 12th century) who was a pupil of Rabbenu Tam. 2. Haftarot (fols. 312-348v): Haftarot vocalized and punctuated (fols. 312-348v) and accompanied by Rashi's commentary (the Rashi starts on fol. 312v with the words בורא השמים תחילה...): Haftarot for regular Sabbaths (fols. 313-337, fol. 312 includes verses from different Haftarot – several verses from the haftarah for Genesis, several from the haftarah for the Sabbath of the New Moon and several from the haftarah for Shabbat Zakhor); Haftarah for the New Year (fols. 337-338), Haftarah for the Day of Atonement (fols. 338-339v), Haftarot for Sukkot and Shemini Azeret (fols. 339v-341v), Haftarot for the Special Sabbaths (fols. 342-344), Haftarah for Passover (fols. 344-346), Haftarah for Shavuot (fols. 346-347), Haftarah for the New Moon (fols. 347-348), Haftarah for the Sabbath which comes the day before the New Moon (fols. 348-348v). 3. Calenders for cycles רע"ב, רע"ג (cycles 272, 273) (fols. 349-350), including instructions on how to use the calendars, giving as an example the month of Tevet for the year קס"ג (December 1402/3). 4. Ashkenazi Siddur (fols. 351-373), surrounded by a commentary in the margins of Sefer ha-Machkim, including daily prayers, prayers for the New Moon, prayers for the Three pilgrimage holidays, Haggadah for Passover and prayers for the New Year and Day of Atonement. 5. Sefer ha-Machkim by Rabbi Nathan son of Yehuda: (fols. 351-373), written in the right, left and lower margins surrounding the text of the siddur. 6. Sefer Sha'arei Dura ha-Shalem by Rabbi Isaac ben Meir Dueren, of Dura (fols. 374-385v), (not including the last chapters on the Laws of Nidah and Ritual baths). 7. Additional text of the SeMaK (fols. 386-417). 8. Addition to Sefer Panach Raza ( פענח רזא) (fols. 418-422v). 9. Perush al ha-Torah (Commentary on the Pentateuch) by Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati ( (פרוש התורה לרקנטי: מנחם בן בנימין(fols. 423-486v). 10. Agreement of the philosophers, astrologers and kabbalists by Joseph son of Abraham Ibn Wakar ((הסכמת הפילוסופים והאצטגנינים והמקובלים, יוסף אבן וואקר בן אברהם (fols. 488-491v). 11. Tikkun Shetarot by R. Yitzhak the preacher son of Meir Ha-Hassid ("The Pious") (fols. 492-495v). According to Ta-Shma (Studies, pp. 159-162) and Emanuel (Fragments, pp. 182, no. 132) this is a compilation by the Or Zarua. 12. Tofes ha-Get (divorce "bill") (fol. 496v). 13. Commentary on the divorce "bill" by Samson ben Isaac Chinon (fols. 497-497v). 14. Table of contents of the SeMak (fols. 498-503v). (A later hand added next to each precept the name of the corresponding pericope).


Vellum, II+503+II leaves.

Thin parchment. Hard to distinguish between hair and flesh sides.



Full page: (375-380) x (270-278)mm.

Text space:  Varied text space, mostly ranging between (310-330) x (195-207)mm

Text space of 2 columns is about 250 X150 mm. width of each column 60-65 mm.

Text space with flanking extra commentary 260 X (195-200) mm.

Text space with extra commentary flanking the sides and top and bottom (310-335) X (200- 220) mm.




Multiple scribes.

Most of the text was divided between the scribes according to the different treatises, rather than according to codicological units.  We were able to identify the following scribes:

  • Scribe A (Shalom?): Pentateuch, Rashi's commentary, Targum Onkelus, SeMak and commentaries, Haftarot, calendar, Siddur for the entire year, Sefer Sha'arai Dura (fols. 1-385v).
  • Scribe B (Hayyim son of David): Sefer Panach Raza, surrounding the main text, set in roundels and semi-roundels, appearing in all the margins, flanking the Onkelus. (Fols. 2-311v); Sefer ha-Machkim by R. Nathan son of Yehuda written in the margins of the text of the siddur (Fols. 351-373); Additions to Sefer Panach Raza (Fols. 418-422v); Commentary on the Pentateuch by Recanati (Fols. 423-486v); Agreement of the philosophers, astrologers and kabbalists by Joseph son of Abraham Ibn Wakar (Fols. 488-491v).
  • Scribe C: Compilation of additional commentaries (See Contents, III, b) (e.g., fols. 2, 3, 3v, 16v, 21v-22, 26v-29, 31v, 34v-36, 50v, 56v, 67v).
  • Scribe D: Interpolations in the SeMaK, between the sections copied by Scribe A (e.g., fols. 63v-64, 72-73).
  • Scribe E: Rashi's Commentary on the Haftarot (Fols. 312v-348v); Treatise-Book of Customs  by un-identified author (See Contents, IV) (Fol. 312); Table of contents of the SeMaK (Fols. 498-503).
  • Scribe F: Instructions on how to use the Calendars, giving as an example the month of Tevet for the year  קס"ג December 1402/3) (Fol. 350).
  • Scribe G: Additional text of the SeMaK (Fols. 386- 416 (lower second column)).
  • Scribe H: Additional text of the SeMaK (Fols. 416 (lower second column)-417)).
  • Scribe I: Tikkun Shetarot by Rabbi Yitzhak the preacher son of Meir Ha-Hassid ("The Pious") (Fols. 492-495v).
  • Scribe J: Divorce bill mentioningZurich, 1391 with explanation and commentary by Rabbi Samson ben Isaac Chinon (Fol. 496v).
  • Scribe K: Commentary of divorce bill (Fols. 497-497v).
  • Scribe L: Divorce formula mentioning Strasbourg (fols. 297-297v).
  • In addition to these 12 scribes, there may have been additional scribes who copied some sections of the texts (especially in the sections written by scribe A, although perhaps in other sections as well).  Further paleographic research is needed in order to determine the exact number of scribes who worked on this manuscript.



of Scribe A (Shalom?):

The main texts of the Pentateuch, Haftarot, Siddur with Haggadah, most of the SeMak (unvocalized), and Sefer Sha'arei Dura are all written in square Ashkenazi script in varying tones of brown ink.

Certain sections of the SeMak open with initial words or letters written in red ink, in a script emulating the Latin Gothic script of the 14th-15th centuries (Fols. 279v-282v.  See Decoration Program, category A)

The texts of the Rashi commentary, Onkelus translation, commentaries on the SeMaK, and calendar with instructions are all written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script of varying sizes and varying tones of brown ink.

Text of Scribes B-I, K:

The texts of these scribes are all written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi scripts of varying sizes and varying tones of brown ink.

Text of Scribe J:

The main text of the divorce document is written in square Ashkenazi script.

The explanations accompanying the main text are written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script.


Number of Columns

The main text is arranged in a varying number of columns, ranging mostly between 2-3 columns (except for fol. 496v which is written in 1 column).  The additional texts in the margins are also arranged in a varying number of columns, ranging mostly between 1-3 columns.

On many folios, the main text columns are further divided into narrow column units, thus dividing the text into as many as 10 smaller column units (e.g., fols. 206v, 213v, 283v, 284v, 285v, 416v).


Number of lines

Varying number of lines.



Ruling by plummet (e.g., fols. 13v, 15v, 19v, 20, 32v) on each page.

Ruling varies: 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 vertical lines for 2 columns flanked by two columns of commentary. Or 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 vertical lines when text is flanked by two columns of commentary usually 1 + 1 for each column, whether text of commentary. (1+2+1 vertical ruling in both options are for the main text). 

Difficult to discern horizontal lines within the commentary 40-55-57 lines.



Pricking is discernable in all margins.  There are usually 2 parallel rows of pricking in the inner and outer margins (e.g., fols. 138, 234), spaced according to the biblical and the flanking Onkelus translation.  The smaller Rashi commentary is adjusted accordingly.  In the Haftarot there are even 3 parallel pricking holes, for the biblical text and the Rashi commentary in the intercolumnar space (e.g., fol. 314).  Pricking is also visible in the upper and lower margins for the vertical lines (e.g, fol 314).



66 quires of 8 leaves each, except for II2 (no folios missing.  However, missing are the verses of Genesis 11:29-32, which were added on fol. 1); XVI8-1 (last blank folio cut out); XXXIX8+1 (stub of single fol. 306 stuck on gutter of fol. 298), XL6-1 (last blank folio cut out; fol. 307 is a widow), XLV8-1 (last blank folio cut out; stub of fol. 344 between fols. 350 and 351), XLVIII8-1 (last blank folio cut out), L4, LV8-3 (3 last blank folios cut out), LXIV6-1 (first blank folio cut out), LXV8-2 (2 last blank folios cut out), LXVI6.

The quires start on the flesh side of the parchment.



Catchwords for the quires appear in the lower left corner of the last verso of the quire (e.g., fols. 26v, 58v, 74v, 114v, 145v, 185v, 209v).

Horizontal catchwords  for the commentary columns in the sections written by Scribe B (Hayyim) often appear at the bottom of the column (relating to another column on the same page) or in the lower left corner of the folio (relating to the following page); e.g., fols. 30, 31, 35, 36, 37, 39v, 42v, 43, 56v, 105-106v, 112, 137v, 157, 165v. The catchwords are decorated by small dots.


Hebrew numeration

Hebrew numeration for the first leaf of each quire beginning on fol. 418 (according to Palaeography Project ZJ 11).


Blank leaves

1v, 350v, 417v, 487, 487v, 496.



Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Colophons of the scribe Hayyim: • Fol. 311v, bottom of left column in small semi-cursive script in brown ink: "Strength and be strong, Hayyim son of Rabbi David, may he rest in peace" (חזק ונתחזק חיים/ בר' דוד נ"ע). • Fol. 373, in Sefer ha-Machkim text inscribed: חזק חיים (Be strong Hayyim). • Fol. 491v, underneath the second text column in semi cursive script in brown ink (in the Agreement by Joseph son of Abraham Ibn Wakar): "Strength, Hayyim son of Rabbi David, may he rest in peace" (חזק חיים ב"ר דוד נ"ע).
Scribal Notes
Blessing formula opening the manuscript: • Fol. 2, upper margin, in large display script: עמי עש"ו. These are the initials of the verse "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth" (Psalms 121:2). • Fol. 314, middle of the upper margin in semi-cursive script in dark brown ink "My help cometh from the Lord" (Psalms 121:2) (עזרי מעם ה' עושה שמים). Indications of possible names of scribes: • Several indications for the scribe Hayyim Fol. 311, at the end of the Pentateuch, under the word "Strength" (חזק) is written "And he is the groom of Torah Hayyim" (והוא חתן תורה חיים) and the name Hayyim is written in large red letters. Fol. 84v, right main text column: the word Hayyim (חיים) appearing in the text is decorated by 4 small dots extending into the right margin. On the same folio, in the commentary in the inner margin, the name Hayyim appearing in the text is written in red ink and decorated by dots. Fol. 439, the name Hayyim is also marked in the Addition to Sefer Panach Raza. Fol. 242, in the lower left margin rubricated in red: "חיים" next to the text ofודם חללים ישתה . • Indication for the scribe Shalom: Fol. 42, 9th line from the top: the word Shalom (שלום) appearing in the text is decorated by a red ink foliate motif extending into the right margin. • Indication of the name Ya'akov: Fol. 44, bottom of both text columns, in the Targum Onkelus: the name Ya'akov ( יעקב ), appearing in the text is decorated with a red ink flourish surrounding the leg of the letter kuf (ק). This appears in the section written by scribe B (Shalom?), and it is unclear why the name of Ya'akov was decorated. Perhaps this is the name of Shalom's father or the name of an annotator. Divorce Formulas with specific date and name of place: • Fol. 287v, within the text of the SeMak appears a divorce formula including the following details: זה תופס הגט מבואר היטב כתיקון רבותינו בפריש... בטרסבורק מתא דיתבא על נהר רינוס ועל נהר אילא ועל נהר ברוסא ועל נהר קלטואה ועל נהר קרבואה [קורבואה] "This is the Divorce formula according to the Rabbis of Paris… in Strasbourg on the banks of the rivers of the Rhine, L’ill, la Bruche Kleta (or Kaltowe) and Korbowe". • Fol. 496v, Divorce formula including the following data: Thursday, 21st of the month of Tevet in the year 5151 (= December 29th, 1390, in Zurich between the man Gershon, so called Saadia bar R. Moshe and the woman Marona daughter of R. Avraham: בחמ[י]שי בשבת באחד ועשרים יום לירח טבת שנת חמשת אלפים ומאה וחמשים ואח, לבריאת עולם למנין שאנו מנין כאן בצוריך מתא דיתבא על נהר או ולינדמאגא ועל נהר זיל ועל מי בארת ועל מי מעינות אנא גרשון דמתקרי סעדיה בר רבי משה... אנת אנתתי מרונא בת רבי אברהם... • Fol. 497,iIn the Commentary on the divorce "bill" by Samson ben Isaac Chinon, copied by scribe K, are the date Thursday , 13th of the month of Shevat, the year of 5107 (=January 25th, 1347) and the place of Zurich. בחמשי בשבת בשלשה עשר יום לחדש שבט שנ'[ת]/ חמשת אלפים ומאה ושבע לבריאת עולם למנין / שאנו מנין כאן בציריך מתא. References to the rites of France and Ashkenaz, within the section of the Siddur: • Several references to the difference in customs between Ashkenaz and France (e.g., Fol. 357, 359, 361, 362v, 363, 365, 369v, 370). • References to the rite of Ashkenaz (e.g., fol. 360, 365v) • References to the rite of France (e.g., fols. 362v, 365v, 373) References to French and Ashkenazi Rabbis: • Several French rabbis are mentioned throughout the texts of the codex, for example: Rabbi Jehiel of Paris (e.g., fol. 99) (Referring to R. Judah ben Isaac of Paris (French tosafist 1166-1224)"; Rabbi Jehiel of Paris (e.g., fol. 236). Many French tosafist rabbis from the 13th century are mentioned in the text of Tikkun Shetarot (Fol. 492-495v) amongst them: R. Jehiel of Paris, Samson ben Samson of Coucy (13th century, French tosafist); Perez ben Elijah of Corbeil (also known HaRaF) one of the most eminent tosafists of the 13th century known as "Head of the French yeshivot." Several French rabbis are mentioned within the commentary on the siddur, for example: the SeMaG (Moses son of Ya'akov of Coucy, first half of the 13th century); the SeMaK (Rabbi Isaac of Courbiel, second half of the 13th century); Rabbi Joseph "Bechor Shor" (French biblical and Talmudic commentator and poet, mid 12th century). • Several Ashkenazi rabbis are mentioned throughout the texts of the codex, for example: Rabbi Eliezer son of rabbi Joel Ha-levi (e.g., fol. 358, 360v, 365v, 367v, 371v, 372) (1140–1225, also known by the acrynom the Ravyah); Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg (e.g., fols. 358, 359, 360, 370, 372) (c. 1215–1293, also known as the MaHaRaM); Mordecai Ben Hillel Ha-Kohen (fol. 362, 370, 370v, 373) (1240?–1298, also known as the Mordekhai); Meir ha-Kohen of Rothenburg (end of the 13th century, author of the Haggahot Maimuniyyot, a comprehensive halakhic work which is one of the most important sources for the halakhic rulings of the scholars of Germany and France); Rabbi Elezar of Worms (e.g., fol. 372) (first half of the 13th century, also known as ha-Roke'ah). References referring the reader to texts written in different places: • Several inscriptions instructing the reader to "look in the circle," (עיין בעיגול) or "look in the shape" (עיין בצורה) in order to find the continuation of the text (e.g., fol. 159v, 160, 226v, 236). • Several inscriptions instructing the reader to "turn the page," (הפוך הדף) in order to find the continuation of the text (e.g., fols. 93, 254, 259, 227, 237, 279).
Trade Mark

Greenish-yellow, pink, blue, black and white marble paper pastedown and first and last fly leaves.

Note that there are two inscriptions, within the spine of the binding on the inside – one on top and one on bottom??


Decoration Program

A. The decoration was made in 1 stage, most probably by the hand of scribe A (Shalom?).

Thirteen initial letters and word panels opening sections of commentary for the SeMaK (fols. 279v-282v).  Most of the initials are written in brown letters in Gothic script and set in a rectangular panel filled with red filigree work (e.g., fol. 280) or a hatching ground (e.g., fols. 281v, 282).  Extending from the panels are long tendrils and flourishes in red and brown ink.  Two other initials opening the main text of the books of Leviticus (fol. 119v) and Numbers (fol. 170v,) are written in large display script, outlined in brown ink and remain hollow.  These seem to have not been finished.

B. Decoration inserted within the text columns as column's fillers:

Type A: Two pairs of half-medallions inhabited with human heads (fol. 164v) or dragon head hybrids (fol. 264) flanking the end of the shaped commentary text column of the SeMaK, executed in red and brown ink. 

Type B: Two bunches of acanthus leaves each set at the end of sections of commentary for the SeMaK (fols. 281v, 282).  The leaves are depicted on a hatching ground all executed in red ink.

Type C: Two narrow vertical fillers set in the column of the Targum Onkelus executed in red and brown ink.  The one on fol. 3v is a panel inhabited by a hybrid with a foliate scroll tail, and the one on fol. 44 is composed of two quadrupeds.

C. Shaped text outlined mostly by double framed geometrical shapes of circles (e.g., fols. 5, 7v, 8v, 14v, 20v, 25, 40, 108v, 137, 142v, 200v, 242v, 253v, 298), half-moons (e.g., fols. 4, 5, 8v, 17, 21v, 25, 55v, 58, 110, 127v, 137, 142v, 241v), spirals (e.g. fols. 9v, 10), triangles (e.g., fol. 27) and squares (e.g., fol. 5) or a floral frame (fols. 2, 271v).  Some of the shaped commentary text is outlined by dragons and hybrids (fols. 130, 236, 318v) or by architectonic motifs (fol. 7v, 80).  All these are outlined in red ink and set in the margins of the page, except for the large dragon on fol. 318v which is set in the inter-columner space and outlined in brown ink.

D.l Architectonic ink frame for calendar lists (fol. 349v).  The frame is composed of four equal arches separated by columns and one narrower column topped by a double-gabled arch.

E. 3 simple diagrams (fol. 268) illustrating the adjacent text dealing with boundaries of courtyards.

F. Small decorative motifs accentuating the beginnings or ends of columns (e.g., fols. 7, 67).


Summary and Remarks

The Vienna Miscellany is a codex of large dimensions, containing more than 500 pages and over a dozen texts, copied by numerous scribes and decorated on many folios. Among the more well-known texts to be found in the Vienna Miscellany are a Pentateuch and Haftarot accompanied by Rashi's commentary, a SeMaK (Sefer Mitzvot Katan), a siddur for the entire year and several important treatises. The text appearing on fols. 351-373 is titled above as "a book of customs" (ספר מנהגים) and was identified by Zunz (Ritus, p. 202) as the text of Sefer Hamachkim composed by Rabbi Nathan son of Rabbi Yehuda in the 13th century. The version of this text found in our Vienna Miscellany later served as the main basis for the critical edition of Sefer ha-Machkim published by Freimann (see Bibliography). Several of the texts are less well-known such as the text found on fol. 312, titled above "Customs I have toiled over and found" ((מנהגים אשר יגעתי ומצאתי. In this text, Speyer in the Rhenish Palatinate in Germany is mentioned as well as R. Isaac bar Dorbelo, a pupil of Rabbenu Tam who was active in the 12th century in France and in Germany.


On many of the pages several texts appear simultaneously, written in different columns of varying sizes and shapes.  It is clear from this complex layout of the texts that such a miscellany must have been copied by skillful scribes who were familiar with these texts to such a degree that they could design several intertwining columns of various texts on a single page, in a complicated format known to us only later from printed books. The use of a complex system of columns for different halachik texts appears in several other manuscripts produced around the same period as our Miscellany, as can be seen for example in the SeMaK with commentary copied in Germany, 1398? (Paris, BN, Hébreu, 388, fol. 142; Garel, Manuscrits Hebreux, p. 121) and a Mahzor and Halachik treatises produced in Ashkenaz around 1390 (Paris, BN, Hébreu 646, fol. 38v; Sed-Rajna, Les Manuscrits Hebreux, p. 221, no. 85). The fact that the paleographic research revealed that many scribes were involved in the copying of the manuscript, and certainly no less than a dozen scribes, may indicate that this miscellany was produced in some sort of Jewish scribal workshop or family production, being passed between the different scribes. For example, when studying the work process, it's clear that Scribe A (Shalom?) copied the main text from fols. 1-385v. However, Scribes C, D and L appear within the sections copied by Scribe A, so that the manuscript must have been passed between them and Scribe A. Scribe B (Hayyim) then added additional texts in the margins of Scribe A and copied the main texts on fols. 418-491v. 


Of the numerous scribes involved in copying the Vienna Miscellany, only two can be identified by name. Scribe A was most probably Shalom (שלום) as the scribe decorated this name when appearing in the text (e.g. fol. 44). A second scribe copied several sections (See Scribes, above) and identifies himself as Hayyim son of Rabbi David (see fols. 311, 311v, 373, 491v). The name Ya'akov is also decorated twice on the final line of the two outer text columns on fol. 44. However, the text of this page was clearly copied by Scribe A, Shalom, so it would seem probable that the marking of the name Ya'akov indicates either Shalom's father, or perhaps an annotator. The name Baruch (ברוך) is also marked on fol. 230, within the section copied by Scribe B, Hayyim, probably as a blessing.


The exact place and time of production of the Vienna Miscellany remain uncertain. The texts of marriage and divorce agreements appear several times in the Miscellany (e.g., fols. 286v, 496v, 497). These forms were meant to serve as examples, and may have been copied from earlier documents, thus the information which can be deduced from them is partial and can only serve as tentative evidence regarding the dates and origin of production. Two of the divorce agreements include full dates:  the one on fol. 496v copied by scribe J records the date of Thursday, 21st of Tevet, the year of 5151 (29/12/1390) while the one on fol. 497 by scribe K records the date of Thursday, 13th of Shevat, 5107 (25/1/1347). In addition to these dates, the year 1403 ((קס"ג is mentioned in the instructions for the calendar on fol. 350, written by scribe F. According to these dates, as well as from the nature of the script, it can be assumed that the manuscript was not copied before the year 1403. The divorce examples mention two cities –Strasbourg (fol. 286v) andZurich (fol. 496v, 497). It is clear that the manuscript could not have been produced inStrasbourg, as the Jews of Strasbourg were expelled from the city at the end of 1388. This indicates that at least the city ofStrasbourg was most likely copied by the scribe from his model.  Although there existed a Jewish community in Zurich at the time, the fact that the name of one of the cities was copied from a model, may indicate that the other city was also mentioned in the model, and cannot supply us with a specific place of origin. 


It is interesting to note the special combination and layout of the Pentateuch text together with the texts of Rashi's commentary and the SeMaK, in a most unique manner. Unlike the typical Ashkenazi layout in which the Pentateuch text is written in the center and the Rashi commentary surrounds it in the margins, the Vienna Miscellany is a rare example in which the Rashi commentary is inserted in between the lines of the Pentateuch text, so that the biblical verses alternate with the commentary. The two texts are written within the same columns, but are clearly discernable from one another, as the Pentateuch verses are written in square script and the Rashi in semi-cursive script. 

The source of this rare layout of the Pentateuch and Rashi texts, may be originally related the differences in attitudes between French and German Jewry, in relation to the importance of the Targum Onkelus. According to Shalev-Eyni (Jews Among Christians, In Print), the German Pentateuchs usually included the Aramaic Onkelus translation, inserted verse by verse within the main text, alternating with the Hebrew verse. These sometimes also included the Rashi commentary in the margins, although not as a rule. From the middle of the thirteenth century on, the French scholars tended to prefer Rashi’s commentary as a substitute for the Aramaic translation. The Pentateuchs produced in France of this time, often appear without the Targum Onkelus or include also the Rashi commentary in their margins. In the case of the Vienna Miscellany, the French attitude towards the hierarchy between the two texts is made clear, with the Rashi commentary given the place of greater importance – the Targum is moved from the main columns to the margins, while the Rashi receives the traditional place of the Targum Onkelus and is set in between the biblical verses.


One of the main texts appearing in the Vienna Miscellany is the Small Book of Precepts, known as the SeMaK, composed by Isaac son of Joseph of Corbeil (died: 1280). Our copy of the text of the SeMaK includes the annotations by Moses of Zurich, known as the "SeMaK of Zurich", which consist of a selection from the works of German and French scholars which were added to the original text of the SeMaK. The interspersing of the SeMaK text between the biblical verses, sometimes several pages at a time, is unique. This points to the fact that the miscellany must have been intended for scholarly use, as the text of the SeMaK is broken up and divided into sections in such a manner that the precepts appear subsequent to the biblical verses to which they are relevant, according to subject, in a manner that suits the needs of scholarly study. This is in contrast to the more commonly found method of listing the precepts, according to the seven days of the week (See for exampleVienna, ÖNB, Cod. Hebr. 75).


The texts of theVienna manuscript mention many Rabbis of France and Ashkenaz. In addition, the section of the siddur, several notes within the commentary refer to the difference between the Ashkenazi and French customs (see Scribal Notes). 


The decoration of the Vienna Miscellany was executed at the same stage as the production of the codex and was most probably the work of one or more of the scribes involved in copying the manuscript, very possibly scribe A (Shalom), as the decoration indicating his name, appearing on fol. 42, is similar to the turrets flanking the trefoil arch in the decoration in the margin of fol. 80. The decoration program of the Vienna Miscellany consists mainly of initial words and letters and pen-work decorations inserted within the text space. Several initial words and letters are shaped in a manner emulating the Gothic script, sometimes found in other Hebrew manuscripts of the period. The letters appearing in the Vienna Miscellany on fols. 280, 281v, 282 can be compared to similar ones appearing for example on fol. 109v in a copy of a Talmud Katan (Abridged Talmud) by R. Isaac Alfasi attributed according to Mann (Prague Jewry, pp. 85-86, fig. 7.5) to Bohemia, Prague(?), c. 1380-1400, housed in Paris (Paris, BN, Hébreu 311; Sed Rajna, Ibid., p. 237, no. 93) and those found on fol. 92 of the Mahzor produced in Ashkenaz in 1390 (Paris, BN, Hébreu 646; Sed-Rajna, Ibid., p. 223, no. 85).


Also prevalent in the Vienna Miscellany is a type of decoration in which the text of the commentary column is shaped and outlined, so that the lines of the text follow the shape of the outline. Many marginal illustrations in manuscripts from Ashkenaz of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries display the Massorah magna text outlined by micrography, whereas in our Miscellany we find the use of a decoration form, in which the commentary text is shaped in figurative or geometrical forms. According to Narkiss (Albenc Pentateuch, pp. 330), this type of decoration has some antecedents in Franco-German Hebrew manuscripts. An early example of this type of decoration for a commentary text appears for example on fols. 8v, 10v, 11 of A Hazzan's Siddur, produced in Franconia in the first quarter of the fourteenth century (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Mich.571). This special type of decoration is also found, according to Narkiss (Ibid., pp. 331) in a group of manuscripts attributed to southern France, dating between the 14th-15th centuries. For example, we can compare the text shaped as dragons and hybrids on fols. 236, 318v of our Miscellany with similar dragons and hybrids adorning folios 3v, 46v, 72v of the Albenc Pentateuch, produced in 1340 in Dauphine (Oxford, Bodliean Library, Ms. Oppenheimer 14; see Narkiss, Ibid., pp. 319-351). A similar winged dragon drawn in this technique also appears for example on fol. 133v of the Multiscribe Pentateuch (e.g., fol. 133v), produced in Dauphine, c. 1340 (British Library, Add. 26878). Later, we see the continuation of the use of this technique in the copy of a Talmud Katan (Abridged Talmud) by R. Isaac Alfasi attributed according to Mann (Ibid., pp. 85-86, fig. 7.5) to Bohemia, Prague(?), c. 1380-1400, housed in Paris (Paris, BN, Hébreu 311; Sed-Ra

Suggested Reconsdivuction
• Fol. 491, right margin, written in small letters in brown ink: “Haayim Vital (?)”. • A later hand added the names of the Parashot on many of the rectos in the section of the Pentateuch, sometimes in light brown ink (e.g., fols. 75, 90, 99, 125) and sometimes in black ink (e.g., fols. 91, 98, 148, 153).
Main Surveys & Excavations
Emanuel, Fragments S. Emanuel, Fragments of the Tablets. Lost Books of the Tosaphists, Jerusalem 2007. Garel, Manuscrits Hebreux M. Garel, Michel, Manuscrits Hebreux Des Collections Françaises, Bibliotheque Nationale, 1991. M. Gruber, "Notes on the Diagrams in Rashi's Commentary to the Book of Kings", Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, Vol. 19, 1994, pp. 29-42. Mann, Prague Jewry V. Mann, "The Artistic Culture of Prague Jewry", Prague, The Crown of Bohemia, 1347-1437, eds. B. D. Boehm and J. Fajt, New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, 2005, pp. 83-89. Narkiss, Albenc Pentateuch B. Narkiss, "The Seal of Solomon the Scribe: The Illustrations of the Albenc Pentateuch of 1340", In: Kogman-Appel, K. and Meyer, M. (Eds.), Between Judaism and Christianity: Art Historical Essays in Honor of Elisheva Revel-neher , Brill, 2009, pp. 319-353. Freimann, introduction Nathan ben Yehuda, Sefer ha-Machkim, (introduction by Ya'akov Freimann), Jerusalem, 1977 (Hebrew). Netzer and Reinburg, Fragmented Devotion N. Netzer, V. Reinburg, Fragmented Devotion: Medieval Objects from the Schnütgen Museum Cologne, University of Chicago Press, 2000. Sed-Rajna, Les Manuscrits Hebreux G. Sed-Rajna, Les Manuscrits Hebreux Enlumines Des Bibliotheques De France, Leuven-Paris, 1994. Shalev-Eyni, Jews Among Christians S. Shalev-Eyni, Jews Among Christians: A Hebrew School of Illumination of the Lake Constance Region, Brepols Publishers, 2008 (In Print). Schwarz No. 20 A. Z. Schwarz, Die hebraeischen Handschriften der Nationalbibliothek in Wien, Vienna, 1925, No. 20. Ta-Shma, Studies I. Ta-Shma, Studies in Medieval Rabbinic Literature. Vol. 1: Germany, Jerusalem 2005. Zunz, Ritus L. Zunz, Die Ritus des Synagogalen Gottesdienstes, Geschichtlich Entwickelt, Berlin, 1919.
Short Name
Full Name
Estherlee Kanon | May, 2003, September, 2003
Author of description
Estherlee Kanon Aliza Mushlin-Cohen | September, 2003, 2008 2004,
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal | September 2003, 2009
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.