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Manhattan, NY - Ancient Torah Discovered

Published on: March 1, 2009 07:58 PM
By: Grand Street News by Yori Yanover
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Rabbi Itzhak ReismanRabbi Itzhak Reisman
Manhattan, NY - Local scribe, Rabbi Itzhak Reisman, has great news: “I acquired a Torah scroll, written on brownish parchment,” he said. “The moment I saw it, I recognized it as a Spanish scroll, which means it had to be written before 1492. My estimate was about 1480.”

Reisman says he had a partner in purchasing this scroll, and the partner didn’t trust his expertise so much. So they sent a small sample for carbon dating. The estimate they received was that the scroll was about 1000 years old.

“But my partner was still suspicious, so he took it to another company, for a little more money,” says Reisman, “and they presumably gave a more accurate dating: Between 1290 and 1315.”

According to Rabbi Reisman, this is a complete Torah, in a near-kosher state (meaning that it requires very few repairs). “The most interesting thing about it are the cabalistic ‘tagin,’ the calligraphic flourishes adorning the Hebrew letters, which I have never seen before in a Spanish Torah.”

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Reisman and his partner contacted an academic expert in Israel, who examined the text and sent them back a letter asserting that it was probably written by a scribe named Shemtov Ibn Gaon, the author of several manuscripts, one of which was on the art of Torah calligraphy. Ibn Gaon left Spain for Israel in 1310, which further dates the scroll, according to Rabbi Reisman.

“It’s a unique, beautifully written Torah,” he says.

Is it ready for use by a congregation? “Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it for any congregation to use it; it’s a historical document, which must be treated with great care. This is the oldest known complete Spanish Torah scroll. And the cabalistic flourishes make it an even more valuable relic.”

 


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Read Comments (21)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 01, 2009 at 07:25 PM baron Says:

this is messianic btw do we learn anything new about kri ksiv nuschaos?

2

 Mar 01, 2009 at 07:26 PM Anonymous Says:

In the current economy, I fear that this sefer will end up being auctioned on Ebay to the highest bidder and it will end up in some goiyeshe museum.

3

 Mar 01, 2009 at 07:36 PM Gefilte Fish Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In the current economy, I fear that this sefer will end up being auctioned on Ebay to the highest bidder and it will end up in some goiyeshe museum.

eBay??? It seems you are not too familiar with the antiques world, Sotheby's is the name in antiques. And stop being so pesimistic.

5

 Mar 01, 2009 at 07:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Gefilte Fish Says:

eBay??? It seems you are not too familiar with the antiques world, Sotheby's is the name in antiques. And stop being so pesimistic.

If you go on Ebay and search for "judaica" you will see antique sifrei torah, and other artifacts being sold like a bunch of used cars. Over the past few weeks, there have been stories about the Jewish museums in both the U.S and EY losing large portions of their endowments between the stock market crash and Madoff. One knowledgeable buyer was quoted as saying the only ones left with money to buy in this market are the Vatican and the Arabs.

6

 Mar 01, 2009 at 08:10 PM Spanish Descent Says:

Our family Which is BA"H quite numerous, traces their descent back to to Gedoley Gerush Sefarad, from Toledo and Cordoba, Spain. We were are not Marranos but Spanish Jews who left at the explusion and retained their Shemirat Mitsvot till this day openly,despite their wandering from country to country. Many of us have learned in the famous Yeshivot (of the Ashkenazim and others of the Sefardim) and some of us have become Rabbonim, Dayonim or plain learned Baaley Batim.. Many Minhogim have been preserved, while others have disappeared. The question of the old Spanish Ksav is something which most Jews of Spanish descent are not even aware of. The available Ksav Sefardi which is available today is not the Spanish Ksav at all. It is that of the Jews of the middle east who technically are not all of Spanish descent. It is interesting to note that Rabbi Ovadya Yosef Shlita once met King Juan Carlos the present King of Spain, wherepon in the course of their conversation The Spanish monarch asked Rabbi Yosef why do the middle eastern Jews call themselves Sefardim when so many actually do not have Spanish ancestry? The Rabbi's immediate response was that the Jews of the Middle East unanimously accept the Rambam who was a true Sefardi as their prime Halachic Authority!

7

 Mar 01, 2009 at 08:04 PM Anonymous Says:

It seems that the academician forgot to mention that Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Gaon was a disciple of the Rashba the author the known commentary on Rambam, "Migdal Oz", and other Kabalistic works. A fact that will increase the value of the Sefer Torah.

8

 Mar 01, 2009 at 08:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
baron Says:

this is messianic btw do we learn anything new about kri ksiv nuschaos?

We shouldn't. The Sfardim/Ashkenazim pretty much had the same torah, just in different script (vellish). Even the Teimani Torah doesn't tell us much (having only 6 differences being extra vav/yods), and their Torah represents something far older.

9

 Mar 01, 2009 at 08:31 PM M. Honig Says:

If the the scribe is indeed Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Gaon, this Sefer Torah is probably mentioned in his: מגדל עוז, הלכות ספר תורה, פרק ט, הלכה י: "הנה אני עשיתי בספר תורה שכתבתי ככל המדות האלה..."

10

 Mar 01, 2009 at 08:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

We shouldn't. The Sfardim/Ashkenazim pretty much had the same torah, just in different script (vellish). Even the Teimani Torah doesn't tell us much (having only 6 differences being extra vav/yods), and their Torah represents something far older.

Yeah, I think the official mesorah for just about every single letter was pretty much standardized by the Masoretes of Tverya around 1400 years ago give or take.

11

 Mar 01, 2009 at 09:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Yeah, I think the official mesorah for just about every single letter was pretty much standardized by the Masoretes of Tverya around 1400 years ago give or take.

Do the Torah Codes work on both the Ashkenazi and Sfarde Sefer Torahs?

12

 Mar 01, 2009 at 09:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Since when is carbon dating accurate?

13

 Mar 01, 2009 at 09:09 PM GurAryeh Says:

What they mean are the Osiyos Meshunos that even many German sifrei torah had a tradition until the time of the Yad Remma when all minor differences between sifrei torah were abolished.
These letters are not extra or missing ones. They are strange ones that there were very ancient traditions for. In certain special places in the Torah some letters are purposely mis-shapen. A Peh with an internal spiral in certain places. A Nun with the foot facing backwards. A Chess with two horns etc.
There is an excellent essay with pictures in the miluimm of Torah Shlemah by Rav Kasher. This is an fascinating subject.
There is a rumor that a Gvir in Teaneck is having a Torah written now with all the Osiyos Meshunos included.

14

 Mar 01, 2009 at 09:58 PM sofer Says:

Hakol tuly bemazel. Afile syfer toro shbehychel

15

 Mar 01, 2009 at 10:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Since when is carbon dating accurate?

On Earth, it is considered the most accurate way of dating an artifact. If done correcting with the right calibration it is considered correct +/- 40 years.

16

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Do the Torah Codes work on both the Ashkenazi and Sfarde Sefer Torahs?

Yes, you can find codes in "both the Ashkenazi and Sfarde Sefer Torahs," as well in as any other book. The key is to disregard all the things you look for that don't appear, and pay attention just to the things that you do find.

17

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:51 AM shlomo Says:

it's not the oldest spanish sefer torah (complete) if it's from 1480. there's an older in Jerusalem which was written by the Ran himself. see all about it in the article by Prof.
shlomo zalman havlin, alei sefer, 12 (1986), pp. 5-36 (hebrew). he gave it to the barcelona shul on 5th sivan 1336 al tnai. read all about it.

18

 Mar 02, 2009 at 10:15 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #17  
shlomo Says:

it's not the oldest spanish sefer torah (complete) if it's from 1480. there's an older in Jerusalem which was written by the Ran himself. see all about it in the article by Prof.
shlomo zalman havlin, alei sefer, 12 (1986), pp. 5-36 (hebrew). he gave it to the barcelona shul on 5th sivan 1336 al tnai. read all about it.

You obviously didn't read the article. The cow that supplied the parchment for the yeriah which was tested, died between 1290 and 1315. Since sifrei torah are usually written on fresh parchment, this implies the sefer was written in that period too, making it older than the Ran's sefer.

19

 Mar 03, 2009 at 05:29 AM Ah Chusid Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

On Earth, it is considered the most accurate way of dating an artifact. If done correcting with the right calibration it is considered correct +/- 40 years.

You are correct. carbon dating is the most accurate way of dating objects wit the last 3-4000 years. older than that there are questions as to what te carbon level was whch makes the extrapolation inaccurateat best and a wild guess at worst, hence the carbon dating on trees felled just a few years ago that tells us they are millions of years old while the rings which are by far more accurate, show us only 4-5000 yrs

20

 Mar 04, 2009 at 07:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Are the words clear?

21

 Mar 04, 2009 at 08:24 PM michoel Says:

Does anybody know if the Sefer Torah reportedly written by the RAN has been photographed?

22

 Apr 13, 2009 at 05:04 PM YYY Says:

Reply to #21  
michoel Says:

Does anybody know if the Sefer Torah reportedly written by the RAN has been photographed?

There is an easily accessible microfilm of the sefer torah attributed to the Ra"n in the JNUIL (Hebrew U.). Sefer Mesores HaOsios, and Temunas Haosios have small copies too.

23

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