English, Events

Coming Up

To build off of Shai’s list of upcoming Talmud related events in Jerusalem (and also off of his discussion of the place of Talmudic literature in the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance), Rehavia’s Adraba bookstore will host Prof. Avigdor Shinan of Hebrew U’s Hebrew Literature Department this Thursday night, July 14th. According to the announcement on the store’s site, Prof. Shinan will speak about rabbinic stories of the destruction of the Temple:

י”ז בתמוז בפתח ועמו מתחילים, לפי המסורת, שלושת השבועות המובילים בסופם ליום המציין את חורבן ירושלים, בימי בית ראשון ובית שני, הלוא הוא תשעה באב.

פרופ’ שנאן יתמקד בקבוצה של סיפורים מתוך ספרות האגדה העוסקים בחורבן הבית, סיבותיו ותוצאותיו.
במהלך הערב נשאל, בין השאר, האם יש בסיפורים רק הד לאירועי העבר שחלפו, או שמא יש בהם מסר לימינו אנו.

While you’re there, make sure to check out Yonatan and Rachel’s excellent collection of used and new books. Although the store’s specialty is not necessarily Jewish Studies, they regularly pick up quite an array of secondary literature pertaining to the Talmud (they sold me both Boyarin’s Carnal Israel and Epstein’s Introduction to Amoraic Literature). Also- space is limited, so try getting there early if you plan on attending.

English, Technology

Getting the Most out of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts Catalog

Arguably the most important room in Jerusalem

This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series on how to use the various internet databases listed in our “Toolbox” section. Dr. Ezra Chwat of the IMHM helped me put together the instructions listed below.

Arguably the most important room in Jerusalem, the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts (IMHM) at the National Library of Israel only recently received the attention it deserves when it was featured prominently in Yossi Cedar’s film Footnote. Scenes of Professor Shkolink the father working studiously in the room’s dark lighting were more than enough to raise the excitement of philologists who for the first time truly experienced Lacan’s “mirror stage” through film. Yet so much of the information amassed by the Institute’s staff is accessible without having to deal with the odd lighting and clunky microfilm viewers. The catalog of manuscripts on its own holds a wealth of information, from the bibliographical to the codicological. The list allows you to find almost all of the textual witnesses available for the work you may be studying. For example, to find various manuscripts of Bavli Shabbat, all one has to do is click on “כותר המתחיל ב…”, and type in “תלמוד בבלי סדר מועד (שבת)”, and the catalogue immediately lists all of the complete and partial manuscripts of the tractate:

Even more importantly, the list already includes manuscripts reconstructed from various genizah fragments, with information about each part of the textual witness:

Through the advanced search (“חיפוש מתקדם”) one can even search directly for reconstructed genizah manuscripts. Within “מלים” type “מאותו כי”(make sure you don’t put a quotation mark and write כ”י), and then in the second field select “נושא כתב היד” and enter the tractate or other work that you’re trying to find genizah manuscripts for:

Clicking on the number that appears following the words “סך-הכול” will bring you to a list that also includes reconstructed manuscripts of commentators on the tractate you searched for:

Of course, the catalog is just a catalog, and except for textual witnesses available online (which will be hyperlinked from the results), one must get to a library with a microfilmed manuscript collection in order to make full use of the information obtained.