The Lost Hebrew Manuscripts Hidden in Christian Books

In the 16th and 17th centuries, bookbinders, printers, and notaries routinely used pages from discarded manuscripts to cover documents or to make bindings for new books. This procedure has led to the preservation of thousands of fragments of Jewish books and historical documents—which Simcha Emmanuel dubs the “European Genizah” by analogy to the trove of discarded manuscripts discovered in a Cairo synagogue. Although these fragments are sometimes found in Hebrew works, more often than not they are found in Gentile ones.

How did hundreds and thousands of Hebrew manuscripts come into the possession of Christian bookbinders? Rabbi Joseph Yuspa Hahn Nordlingen [1570–1637] writes: “most of the parchment books common nowadays came into Christian hands during persecutions.” A more explicit account is found in . . . a description of the pogrom against the Jews of Frankfurt in the year 1614. The author, an eyewitness to the pogrom, reports acts of plunder and clearly distinguishes between the fate of printed books—which were sentenced to destruction—and that of parchment manuscripts which were sold to the bookbinders.

This writer’s words are corroborated in full by non-Jewish sources, and documentation from Frankfurt in those years records, in detail, that many Hebrew manuscripts were stolen from the city’s Jews during the pogrom and sold to bookbinders.

In Jewish society as well, starting in the 16th century, printed editions began to replace manuscripts on bookshelves, and manuscripts whose time had come were pushed to the margins. It is therefore possible that due to the major decline in the value of manuscripts, some members of the Jewish community voluntarily sold the valuable parchment pages of their manuscripts to bookbinders of their own free will, as was the custom among their Christian neighbors.

While scholars have been aware of these scattered fragments for over a century only in recent years have they made progress in mining them, piecing together medieval rabbinic works that were long thought lost—among other discoveries.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish history, Manuscripts, Rare books

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security