Object Alone

Obj. ID: 21819
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  The Klausen Book of Psalms, Prague, 1706

© BSB, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The manuscript contains the complete book of Psalms divided into sections for daily readings. According to the rhymed colophon written on the richly illuminated title page (fol. 1), the book was copied by the scribe Shabetai (Scheftel) son of Zalman the dayyan of Nikolsburg (today Mikulov, south-eastMoravia) of the branch of the Auerbach family expelled from Vienna in 1669-1670. It was donated to the Klausen Synagogue by the members of the Klausen Synagogue in Prague, followers of Rabbi Meir Perles (Moses Meir ben Eleazar Perles, 1666-1739; EJ "Perles", 15:777). The book was completed between New Year and the Day of Atonement in September 1706.


Two more manuscripts, both decorated, are known from the hand of the scribe Shabetai (Scheftel): one is a collection of liturgical poems for the morning service (Yozrot) for the whole year, copied in Prague for the Meisl Synagogue in 1719 (fig. 1; Sadek 1969, p. 149; Altshuler 1983, cat. No. 255); and the second is a collection of memorial services, litanies and prayers (Seder Hazkarot Neshamot, Tehinot and Tefillot) dated 1731, his last known manuscript. This book is dedicated to the memory of the scribe's family (fig. 2): the father, Meshullam Zalman ben Zeev Fischof Auerbach, the dayyan of Nikolsburg (Róth 1974-1975, p. 152; Kaufmann 1889, p. 174) who was "the grandson of Baer Eilenburg, Rabbi of Austerlitz" (possibly Issachar Baer ben Israel Leyzer Eilenburg, born in Posen, died in Austerlitz in 1623; JE 1901-1906, "Eilenburg", pp. 77-78).


More biographical details about the scribe Shabetai ben Zalman Auerbach are that he married Hendl, daughter of Issachar Ber ben Joel Kac of Vienna (Sadek 1969, p. 149, No. 5), and died on March 7, 1738, as we learn from the inscription on his tombstone in the Old Cemetery of Prague (Hock 1892, p. 7, No. 999). Indeed, the inscription in the lower cartouche on the title page of the Cincinnati manuscript records the date 1739, when the manuscript was “donated by Itzhak ben Yehuda” (נדבת יד הר"ר יצחק בהר"ר יהודא כהן (?) שנת תצ"ט לפ'). This must have been the owner of the Cincinnati manuscript, even though it is not clear to which synagogue he donated the manuscript after the death of the scribe.



Fig. 1: Title page

Yozrot for the whole year

Prague, 1719

Prague, Jewish Museum, MS 242 (INV 170-564)

(Courtesy ofPragueJewish Museum)

Fig. 2: Title page

Seder Hazkarot Neshamot

Prague (?), 1731

Cincinnati, HUCKlau Library,MS453

(Courtesy ofCincinnati, HUC Klau Library)


Shabetai ben Zalman Auerbach (Scheftel), who defines himself as "an expert scribe and craftsman," designed and painted the title page of our Munich manuscript (fig. 3) and the seven gold initial words opening each of the main divisions of the text.


He also decorated the sole pen-drawn initial word for the blessing recited after the reading of Psalms (fol. 40 - fig. 4), filled with floral motifs and a human face. The stylistic resemblance of the latter to the painted title page suggests that all the decoration of the manuscript was executed by him. Indeed, it is noticeable how the facial features of the small sketchy face within the last letter yod of the word Yehi (יהי; fig. 4) recalls the basic features of Moses and Aaron on the title page (fig. 3). The small dark pupil brings the facial expression alive; and the straight horizontal lines indicating nose and mouth are also common features, although rendered in detail by colouring on the title page. Similarly, the foliate motifs of the initial word recall the style of those filling the arch on the title page. Further evidence of the scribe's involvement in the decoration is the Decalogue held by Moses, which was clearly penned by him.






Fig. 3: Title page

The Klausen Book of Psalms

Munich, BSB Cod.hebr. 473

Fig. 4: Decorated initial word

The Klausen Book of Psalms

Munich, BSB Cod.Hebr. 473, fol. 40

Fig. 5: Decorated initial word

Seder Hazkarot Neshamot

Prague (?), 1731

Cincinnati, HUCKlau Library,MS453, fol. 13

(Courtesy ofCincinnati, HUC Klau Library)



Fig. 6: Decorated initial word

The Klausen Book of Psalms

Munich, BSB Cod.hebr. 473, fol. 2

Fig. 7: Initial word panel

Yozrot for the whole year

Prague, 1719

Prague, Jewish Museum

MS 242, fol. 3

(Courtesy ofPragueJewish Museum)



In contrast to our manuscript (fig. 6), in the two later manuscripts by our scribe most of the gold-powder initial words are set within rectangular panels decorated with floral motifs, vases and stylized animals and birds (figs. 5, 7).


The bottom panel of our frontispiece (fig. 8) depicts six Jews wearing black cloaks and prayer shawls, three carrying prayer-books, walking towards a single-storey building, possibly a simplified depiction of the Klausen Synagogue, inscribed in Hebrew above the portal by a later hand: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter (Ps. 118:20). This illustration recalls a procession of the members of the Burial Society depicted on painted beakers from Bohemia and Moravia, one example of which is from Prague dated 1713 (fig. 9; Shachar 1972, pp. 24-25). The Klausen synagogue, located near the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, was rebuilt in 1694 after its destruction in the fire ofPraguein 1689 and remodelled in the 1880s. Its interior was destroyed in WWII. The synagogue also housed the meetings of the Burial Society (Shachar 1972, p. 48 n. 11) and our manuscript could have been used by its members. Indeed, a Book of Psalms, not by our scribe, was copied in1723 inNikolsburg (Prague, Jewish Museum inPrague, Zidovske Muzeum MS 90; INV 170231) for the use of members of a Burial Society. Moreover, another manuscript, "Passage over the ford Jabbok" (Gen. 32:23), albeit from 1752, written for a Burial Society, shows on its title page a funeral procession of men recalling those in our manuscript and on the beakers (fig. 10).


Fig. 8: Title page, bottom panel

The Klausen Book of Psalms

Munich, BSB Cod.hebr. 473, fol. 1


Fig. 9: Burial Society Beaker

Prague, 1713

Jerusalem, IM 133/113

(© Israel Museum)

Fig. 10: Title page

Sefer Ma'avar Yabbok

Prague(?), 1752

Prague, Jewish Museum MS 241 INV 3176

(Courtesy ofPragueJewish Museum)


The two other manuscripts copied by Shabetai ben Zalman Auerbach have title pages similar to ours (figs. 1, 2, 3). The iconographical source of these title pages follows those found in manuscripts and printed books.  The two figures of Moses and Aaron accompany other biblical scenes such as David playing the harp and scenes from the life of Jacob. ThePraguemanuscript of 1719 (fig. 1) also includes a central medallion with the Ark of Covenant and its two winged cherub's heads, similar to the one in the lunette of our Klausen manuscript (fig. 3). The medallion is flanked by two winged female figures.


The bottom panel (fig.1) encloses David kneeling within a medallion. Crowned and wearing royal garments, he is playing the harp next to a table with an open Book of Psalms. At the top left is the sun with a face below which is a small curtain, and behind David is a large red one (Fishof 1992, fig. 106 ב and pp. 32-35). The medallion is flanked by the dream of Jacob on the right and Jacob wrestling with the angel on the left.

 The iconography of this title page follows almost exactly the title page of the Sefer Yefe 'Anaf printed in Frankfurt an der Oder in 1696 (figs. 1 and 11).




Fig. 1: Title page

Yozrot for the whole year

Prague, 1719

Prague, Jewish Museum MS 242 (INV 170-564)

(Courtesy ofPragueJewish Museum)


Fig. 11: Title page

Sefer Yefe 'Anaf

Shmuel Yafe Ashkenazi (author; 1525-1595)

Printer: Michel Gottschlack  

Frankfurt (Oder) 1696

(HebrewBooks website)


TheCincinnatimanuscript of 1731 (fig. 2) depicts David playing the harp in the top medallion. Compared to the previous scene (fig. 1) this depiction has only the upper part of the king's figure. According to Fishof, this is the second iconographical tradition of David playing the harp, which was often used on title pages of manuscripts and printed books, as can be seen for example in seven of the manuscripts by the scribe Yacob Sofer of Berlin (active 1718-1741; Fishof, 1992, pp. 32-36, 79-80, 71, 76-77). See for example his Seder Tikkunei Shabbat of 1724 (fig. 12).


Fig. 2: Title page

Memorial Book

Prague (?), 1731

Cincinnati, HUC Klau Library MS 453

(Courtesy ofCincinnati, HUC Klau Library)


Fig. 12: Title page

Seder Tikkunei Shabbat

Yacob Sofer ofBerlin(scribe and artist)

Hamburg, 1724

Jerusalem, IM 180/10

(Fishof 1987, fig. 3)


In conclusion, the Klausen book of Psalms is the earliest known manuscript copied by Shabetai Scheftel ben Zalman Auerbach, who was active in the years 1706-1731 inPrague, where he is buried. Two of the three manuscripts were ordered for two synagogues in that city, the Klausen and Meisl Synagogues. The third was written in memory of his family, going back four generations.


5 image(s)

sub-set tree:

The Klausen Book of Psalms | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod.hebr. 473 (Róth 1974-1975)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
Outer margins have been cropped, sometimes with text (e.g. fols. 38-40), and a textual error was cut out (fol. 10). Some gold colour has turned green (e.g. fols. 8, 11v, 19v). The right eyes of Moses, Aaron and the cherub on the title page are effaced (fol. 1).
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Book of Psalms divided into seven sections of daily readings, including: Frontispiece (fol. 1). Blessing recited before reading the Psalms (fol. 1v). Psalms (fols. 2-39v), divided into sections for the days of the week: Sunday (fols. 2-8; Pss. 1-29); Monday (fols. 8-11v; Pss. 30-41); Tuesday (fols. 11v-19v; Pss. 42-72); Wednesday (fols. 19v-24v; Pss. 73-89); Thursday (fols. 25-29v; Pss. 90-106); Friday (fols. 29v-36; Pss. 107-134); Sabbath (fols. 36v-39v; Pss. 135-150). Blessing recited after the reading of the Psalms (fol. 40).
Material Parchment, I + 40 + I leaves. No distinction between flesh and hair sides. Measurements Full page: (382-384) x 285 mm. Text space: (315-325) x (245-255) mm. Scribes One scribe: Shabetai Scheftel ben Zalman Auerbach dayyan (rabbinical judge) of Nikolsburg (Mikulov, southern Moravia). Script Square Ashkenazi script. Columns One text column. Number of lines The main text is written in 22 lines per page. Ruling Ruling by stylus: 22 horizontal lines ruled across the page and 1+1 vertical lines (e.g. fols. 1v-2, 3v-4, 10). The quires are arranged so that ruled pages face ruled pages, starting with the verso of the title page (fol. 1v). Pricking Not noticeable. Quires 20 quires of 2 leaves each. Catchwords Catchwords for leaves in the left-hand corner, some cut off. Visible: fols. 3, 4v, 5v, 6v, 8v, 10v, 12v, 13v, 14v, 16v, 18v (remains), 22v, 24v, 26, 26v, 28v, 30v, 32v, 34v, 38v (remains). Hebrew numeration None. Blank leaves Fol. 40v.
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
Fol. 1, title page: a rhymed colophon written by the scribe in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script, written in successive lines with a space between the verses all ending in the syllable la: לכבוד האל שוכן מעלה ולכבוד ב"ה (בית הכנסת) קלויז הבנויה על תלה/ נדבה בני יחידי סגולה השומעים מפי הרב המגיד המעולה/ וחדושי התורה שמגלה ה"ה (הרב הגדול) יקר שמו אף נעלה מהור"ר מאיר/ פערלש סופר ונאמן הקהילה לכתוב על קלף ספר הלז מזמורי/ רנה ותפלה מדויק ומנוקד בלי שום טעות ועולה ע"י/ הסופר לבלר אומן ומומחא שבתי יכונה שעפטל בן לא"א (אדוני אבי)/ האלוף החסיד מהור"ר זלמן דיין מק"ק ניקלשפורג מגורש ווין/ משפחת אויערבך המתבשר בפעולה ובזכות זה נזכה/ לישב שקט ושאנן בשמחה וצהלה בלי שום רעש ומהומה/ וצער ויללה עד כי יבא שילה ויקבץ נדחי ישראל מן/ הגולה בשנת תס"ז בין כסא (sic) לעשור בזכות קריאתו/ נזכה לרגלי המבשר This book was donated to the Klausen Synagogue by the followers of the distinguished Rabbi Meir Perles, a scribe and trustee of the community. It was copied by the scribe Shabetai known as Scheftel son of Zalman dayyan of Nikolsburg of the Auerbach family, which had been expelled from Vienna. The "expert scribe and craftsman" Shabetai copied onto parchment and accurately vocalized this Book of Psalms, completing it between New Year (1st of Tishrei) and the Day of Atonement (10th Tishrei) [5]467 (September 1706).
Scribal Notes
Trade Mark

A cardboard binding of 1935, covered with brown leather with gold-tooled decoration. The front cover has a rectangular frame, surmounted by a conch, with a medallion in the centre. The medallion is inscribed in gold: שייך לביהכ"נ/ קלוזן/ דק"ק פראג (Belongs to the Klausen Synagogue inPrague). The frames and conch, in alternating red and green, colours are bordered and decorated with floral and foliage scrolls, festoons, large rosettes and stars.


The back cover is decorated with a fan motif at top and bottom, the top divided into alternating green and red ribs, surmounted by an eagle. The bottom fan, in dark red, is inscribed in gold: נכתב בשנת תס"ז/תרצ"ה (Written in the year 5467 (1706)/bound in 5695 (1935)). Winding gold fillets connect the two fans, which are decorated with festoons, rosettes and stars.


The spine is divided into five sections, probably by four invisible cords, in alternating light and dark brown leather, decorated alternately with a central branch and hatchings, except for the second section from the top which the gold-tooled inscription ספר תהילים (Book of Psalms).

On the lower part of the spine is a library sticker: Cod. Hebr. 473.

Both pastedowns and fly-leaves are made of brown marbled paper decorated with vine leaves outlined in gold

Decoration Program

The decoration of the manuscript consists of an architectural title page. The figures and decoration are in black ink outlines and painted in red, pink, green, blue, black and brown wash, with gold powder dots.

  1. Frontispiece: An architectural title page incorporating the figures of Moses and Aaron at the sides, and a scene of Jews approaching a synagogue (fol. 1).
  2. 8 decorated initial words: one in ink display script filled in with flowers and a human face (fol. 40: Yehi) for the blessing recited after the reading of the Psalms, and 7 gold-painted initial words for the beginning of the daily readings; the first is in large display script (fol. 2; 3.5 lines), while the other six are smaller (fols. 8, 11v, 19v, 25, 29, 36v; 1.5 lines).
Suggested Reconsdivuction
Inscriptions: Fol. 1 (frontispiece): At the bottom of the page, below the panel depicting Jews going to synagogue, is a later inscription in cursive Ashkenazi script in light brown ink: כשהלך (כשהולך) לבית התפילה (When going to the House of Prayer). Later inscriptions within the frontispiece: - Names added in black ink below the figure of Moses: משה, and below Aaron: אהרן. - Addenda to the Decalogue on the Tablets of the Law in light brown ink: ד שקר/ לא תענה/ את רעך/ לא תחמודע - Above the portal of the synagogue in cursive script: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter (Pss. 118:20). Addenda within the text by a different hand: - Fol. 10, tenth line: a later correction on a small piece of parchment written on the recto and verso and stuck onto the folio, replaces the excised text (Pss. 36:9; 37:34). - This hand also corrected over an erasure (fol. 37; Pss. 137:6-9), and on fol. 40. Library stamps: - Fol. 20, square stamp of the Synagogue, inscribed: From the Klausen Synagogue.מבהכנ (מבית הכנסת)/ קלויזן - Fols. 1, 40v, square library stamp: Bayerische/ Staatsbibliothek/ München.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Altshuler 1983 D. Altshuler, ed. The Precious Legacy: Judaic Treasures from the Czechoslovak state collections, New York, 1983. EJ 2007, "Auerbach" Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 2, 2nd ed., Oxford 2007, pp. 650-652. EJ 2007, "Perles" Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 15, 2nd ed., Oxford 2007, p. 777. Fishof 1987 I. Fishof, "Yacob Sofer mi-Berlin: A Portait of a Jewish Scribe", The Israel Museum Journal, Jerusalem, Spring 1987, pp. 83-94. Fishof 1992 I. Fishof, The Hamburg-Altona School of Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts of the First Half of the Eighteenth Century, Ph.D. Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1992 (Hebrew, unpublished). Hock 1892 S. Hock, Die Familien Prags nach den Epitaphien des alten juedischen Friedhofs in Prag, Pressburg, 1892. JE 1901-1906, "Eilenburg" The Jewish Encyclopaedia, New York-London, 1901-1906, pp. 77-78. Kosáková 2006 E. Kosáková, ed., 100 předmětů ze Židovského muzea v Praze. Kurátorský výběr (Michaela Hájková, Jaroslav Kuntoš, Olga Sixtová, Dana Veselská), Prague 2006, Cat. No. 20. (100 artifacts of the Jewish Museum in Prague, a curatorial selection). Kaufmann 1889 D. Kaufmann, Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien und Niederösterreich: ihre Vorgeschichte (1625-1670) und ihre Opfer, Budapest [s.n.], 1889. Mann and Cohen 1996 Mann V. B. and Cohen R.I., eds., From Court Jews to the Rothschilds: Art, Patronage and Power, 1600-1800, New York and Munich, 1996, Cat. No. 80. Sabar, Iconography S. Sabar, "Iconography", 2nd ed., Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/iconography. Sadek 1969 V. Sadek, "Aus der Handschriftensammlung des Staatlichen Jüdischen Museum in Prag (Illuminierte Handschriften des 18. Jahrhunderts)", Judaica Bohemiae, vol. V (1969), 2, p. 144-151. Shachar 1972 I. Shachar, "Feast and Rejoice in Brotherly Love: Burial Society Glasses and Jugs from Bohemia and Moravia", Israel Museum News 9 (1972), pp. 22-51. Róth 1974-1975 E. Róth, “Ein Psalmenkodex aus Prag”, Udim 5 (1974-1975), pp. 151-153.
Ilona Steimann; Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin | 2008; 2008, 2013
Author of description
Anna Nizza; Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; Yaffa levy | 2009; 2010, 2013; 2013
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal; Project Head: Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin | 07-2016; 2008-2015
Language Editor
Christine Evans | 2013
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |