Lost manuscript of Jewish commentator ‘Baruch Taam’ discovered

Handwritten manuscript by late 18th-early 19th century rabbi discovered, revealing treasure trove of unpublished glosses.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The manuscript
The manuscript
Kedem Auction House

A lost manuscript of the author, "Baruch Taam," also known as Rabbi Baruch Frankel-Teomim, was discovered recently. It contains a composition comprised of thousands of his handwritten commentary on the “Shulchan Aruch.”

However, a comparison with the printed version reveals that the manuscript contains dozens of unpublished glosses including many which had been printed incorrectly or incompletely. The manuscript, which will be put up for public auction this Wednesday at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem, is expected to be purchased for hundreds of thousands of shekels.

Many of the author’s writings had actually been lost during his lifetime, and he prayed for their eventual recovery. The Baruch Taam’s son-in-law, the Admor and author of “Divrei Chaim” said: “May God allow the commentaries of father-in-law, which he has lost causing him great anguish, to be found.” The Admor’s wish came true as all of his father-in-law’s commentary on the Shulchan Aruch has emerged in its entirety. The manuscript also includes all of the Baruch Taam’s writings on the “Pri Chadash,” another Jewish commentator.

The manuscript on the Shulchan Aruch was part of the collection belonging to Rabbi Shimon Shmelke Erblich of Antwerp, a seventh-generation descendant of the Baruch Taam, that contains thousands of annotations and commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch inscribed in the original handwriting of the Baruch Taam. Although most of the works pertain to the commentary, “Magen Avraham,” a good portion relate to the Shulchan Aruch and other commentators such as the Pri Chadash. The volume is replete with commentaries from beginning to end, appearing on just about every page.

The manuscript
Kedem Auction House

The book also contains lengthy annotations in a different handwriting than the many distinctively handwritten commentaries of the Baruch Taam. Although the author’s identity is unknown, the writings were printed in the name of the Baruch Taam.

One of the Baruch Taam’s sons, sons-in-law or disciples could very well have been the author, as the Baruch Taam was known on occasion to have orally transmitted some of his commentary to relatives or disciples. Although most of the commentaries in the other handwriting were published in his name, some are hitherto unpublished.

Meron Eren, one of the owners of the Kedem Auction House noted: "This is an extraordinary historical discovery of which its impact on the world of Jewish law may be very significant. We are happy to be partners in discovering such a significant asset of the Jewish world."



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