Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Woman's Siddur

Here is a worthy sequel to my previous post "God, I thank thee...". This manuscript in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary speaks for itself.

JTS MS 8255) Italy 1471

Scribe: Abraham Farissol

"This Siddur of the Roman rite was copied for a woman by the noted scholar and scribe, Abraham Farissol, in 1471. It is written on fine vellum and measures 6 3/8 x 4 3/4 inches.

The text commences with the seventy-two verses relating to the kabbalistic seventy-two-letter name of God. The opening of the traditional text "eilu meah berakot" ("these are the hundred blessing [that one is obligated to recite each day]) begins on folio 3v, which is decorated with an elaborate floral border, executed in Ferrarese style. The three images within roundels were effaced, presumably at a later date. A text illustration, a crescnt moon embellished with gold leaf, is found on folio 63 accompanying the text for the New Moon. Many pages are decorated with red and purple penwork.

The liturgical text is noteworthy as it has been altered for recitation by a woman. Particularly striking is the morning blessing found on folio 5v thanking God for (among other things) "making me a woman and not a man." That the manuscript was destined for use by a woman is corroborated by the colophon on folio 145 in which Abraham Farissol, the son of Mordechai Farissol, states that he copied the siddur for the honorable [name erased] and his wife, the bride [name erased]. The text was censored in many places and bears the signature of the censor Camillo Jagel in 1611, folio 146v."

I highly recommend that you try out the magnification tool in the bottom righthand corner of the document loading page.

No comments: