Ninety Lost Pages of the First Printing of a Seminal Work of Jewish Law Have Been Found

For traditional Jews around the world, the central code of Jewish law is the 16th-century Shulḥan Arukh, composed by the great Spanish-born sage Joseph Karo. This work is a consolidation of Karo’s commentary on an earlier work, the Arba’ah Turim (“Four Rows”) of Jacob ben Asher (ca. 1269-1343), a German sage who immigrated to Christian Spain with his father—himself a great Talmudist—and embodied a synthesis of Ashkenazi and Sephardi schools of learning. Part of this work was recently acquired, in the rarest of forms, by the National Library of Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports:

The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem announced on Tuesday that it has obtained 90 singular pages from the earliest period of Hebrew printing.

The pages come from the only known copy of a late-15th-century edition of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher’s Arba’ah Turim, one of history’s most important works of Jewish law. No complete copies of it have survived, and the pages acquired . . . are not found in any other collection in the world, public or private. Prior to the acquisition, the library already held 59 pages from the book.

Works published prior to 1500 are known as “incunabula” (from the Latin for swaddling clothes, cradle; the earliest stage of something). During this period, less than 200 total Hebrew titles were printed, of which around 150 have survived until today. The National Library of Israel has copies of more than 80 of them.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Halakhah, Jewish press, Rare books, Shulhan Arukh

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland