Thursday, June 17, 2010

Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer

Question: I am researching various tefillot, and I need background information on each prayer, especially the relevant laws and traditions guiding the recitation of the prayers, and the differences between the Ashkenazi and Sefardi customs. The Encyclopedia Judaica and Jewish Encyclopedia do not have the details I need. What resource do you suggest?

Answer: The comprehensive Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (1993) by Macy Nulman provides this information for over 1300 individual Hebrew prayers. Nulman explains when and how the prayer is recited, specifies variations in the text, identifies the author (or attributed author), and provides a partial translation or information about the prayer's contents and meaning. Differences between various Ashkenaic and various Sephardic tradtions are also noted.

Although the entries are listed alphabetically according to their transliterated spellings, a Hebrew-language index of "first lines" is provided. A bibliography of additional resources for each prayer is also provided.

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer is located in the Reserve section of The JTS Library at BM 660 N85 1993.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Online Audio Lectures on Judaism

Would you suggest some websites that contain online audio of lectures related to Judaism?

Here are some sites with online audio of lectures on Judaism. Most of these sites contain many free lectures.

I am sure that there are many other good sites out there. The readers of this blog are encouraged to "join the conversation" by listing other sites that they enjoy using.

You might also want to check out the "Audio Roundup" series on New online lectures are listed, linked to, and summarized. For an example, see here:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mikraot Gedolot HaKeter on CD-ROM

Bar Ilan University has produced a CD-ROM version of Mikraot Gedolot HaKeter, based on the Aleppo Codex (the most accurate surviving text of the Tanakh) and early medieval manuscripts. Edited by Menachem Cohen, it provides much of the same content as his printed critical edition, which began publication in 1992 [located at Reference Oversize BS715 1992 in the JTS Library]. It includes the Tanakh, the Mikraot Gedolot commentaries, the mesorah, the vocalization and the cantillation.

The outstanding feature of the CD-ROM version is its searching capabilities. The Biblical text, the commentaries and the mesorah are all fully searchable--not only by Hebrew words, but also by vowels and ta'amim. This allows the researcher to retrieve all words with a particular pattern of vowel combinations, or all words with a particular pattern of trope notation.

The CD-ROM also provides additional functionalities, such as the Hebrew shoresh search option, a Keri/Ketiv list, and statistics of the numbers of verses, words and letters in the manuscript as a whole, and in its parts.

Ya'akov Aronson has written a detailed article outlining the contents of the printed and CD-ROM editions of Mikraot Gedolot HaKeter. Three instruction documents for the CD-ROM edition are available at the JTS Library's Reference Desk.

Quality images of the Aleppo Codex manuscript itself, along with background information, have been made available via the Ben Zvi Institute.

To access this unique CD-ROM resource, which is available on-site at the JTS Library, please contact the Reference staff at or 212-678-8081

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hebrew Text of Prayer that References Pomegranates

I am looking for the Hebrew text of a certain prayer. It has something to do with asking God to grant us the opportunity to do as many mistvot (good deeds) as there are seeds in a pomegranate. Can you tell me the exact wording?

I believe you are referring to the prayer that is said while eating a pomegranate on the night of Rosh ha-Shanah: "May it be Your Will, Hashem, our God, and the God of our forefathers, that our merits increase as [the seeds of] a pomegranate". Here is the prayer in Hebrew, with nikud (vowel points), based on the text found in The Complete Artscroll Machzor : Rosh Hashanah [Brooklyn, NY : Mesorah, 1985 - p.98]:
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ,ה' אֶלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אַבוֹתֵינוּ ,שֶנִרְבֶּה ְזכֻיוֹת כְּרִמוֹן

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Articles in Festschriften or Jubilee Volumes

Question: I am trying to identify an article about dreams, and how they have inspired medieval Hebrew writers. A colleague believes it was published in the early part of the 20th century, in an "honorary volume", but he does not remember the author or any other information. How can I find it?

Answer: Most likely your colleague, using the term "honorary volume," is referring to a festschrift, a book of scholarly articles published in honor or in memory of a professor, a scholar, or an academic institution. A festschrift is sometimes called a "jubilee volume" or "sefer yovel".

Festschriften in Jewish studies published since approximately 1960 are systematically indexed in the web-based RAMBI Index of Articles on Jewish Studies. Access is by subject, author, and keywords from the article title.

Earlier Jewish studies festschriften have been indexed in two printed volumes: Charles Berlin's Index to Festschriften in Jewish Studies (1971) covering 243 publications from approximately 1936-1970, and Jacob R. Marcus' and Albert Bilgray's An Index to Jewish Festscriften (1937) covering 53 festschriften from the mid-1800's until 1936. Access to individual articles, in both volumes, is by author and subject.

Marcus and Bilgray also provide access by article title, and this leads us to what is probably the article you seek: "Dreams as a Cause of Literary Compositions", by Henry Malter, published in Studies in Jewish Literature Issued in Honor of Professor Kaufmann Kohler on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (Berlin, 1913), p. 199-203.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sheelot u-Teshuvot Besamim Rosh

On March 10, 2008 I posted, on the shortlived JTS library blog Mekorot, what was intended to be the first in a series of posts on the topic of "Rabbinic Forgeries". The Mekorot blog was later discontinued and the series was never completed. The new JTS library blog, The Takeaway, has a different format and I do not intend to continue the series. I do want to present a link to the original Mekorot blog post in case any one is interested in seeing it. Here it is: