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A 13th Century Poem Discovered Recently Can Now Be Viewed Online

Liza Cablayan Journalist at Israel Now
Published on September 17, 2020
A 13th Century Poem Discovered Recently Can Now Be Viewed Online
#Education #Israel

A poetic prayer by the Ramban, or Nachmanides, was recently discovered. He was a 13th century Spanish rabbi, and he wrote commentaries about the Bible and the Talmud. It has been translated into English and is available for viewing on the National Library of Israel website.

It was found in a book written just after the Expulsion and was probably used by exiles from Catalonia living in Provence. The book is now stored in Rome’s Casanatense Library.

He was a leading Kabbalist, and people knew him by the initials of his name, Rabbi Moshe son of Nachman. Born in Catalonia, he was forcibly kicked out when he was 70 years old. This happened after he was ordered to defend his faith against a Jewish convert, Pablo Christiani. He moved to Jerusalem and reestablished Jewish life and settlement in the city.

The prayer was considered a bakashot,  a common form of supplication among Iberrian Jews of the era. It was published in Hebrew for the very first time last year,  and it appeared in Sidur Catalunya, Idan Perez’s first printed prayer book of the Catalonian liturgy and ritual that was followed by the Ramban and the communities of Catalonia, Valencia and Majorca, which existed during that time. They were destroyed by the Spanish Inquisition and Expulsion over 500 years ago.

The book can also be viewed online as a part of the Ktiv, an initiative by the National Library of Israel to open access online for everyone to view all the Hebrew manuscripts.