Sources of Jewish Culture

The series "Sources for the Study of Jewish Culture" is a series of critical annotated editions of a wide range of sources in Jewish Studies: Philosophy, Halakha, Poetry and more - many of are published for the first time.
It is published by the World Union of Jewish Studies and the Rabbi Moshe and Amalia Rosen Foundation.
The books are available in Hebrew only.
For book purchase click here.


  Commentary on Ecclesiastes (the Book of the Soul of Man): Samuel Ben Judah Ibn Tibbon - James T. Robinson
Samuel b. Judah ibn Tibbon (c. 1165-1232) is most famous for his translation of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed into Hebrew. He translated other writings as well, and produced original works of philosophy and biblical exegesis. This book makes available for the first time ever Ibn Tibbon’s Perush Qohelet, a sprawling adaptation of Maimonides’ method of exegesis to the complete verse-by-verse explication of a biblical book. The edition is presented with full annotation -- identifying Ibn Tibbon’s sources and explaining his ideas and terminology -- and analytical introduction, which presents the life and writings of the author, describes the commentary itself in detail, explains the method and philosophy of the commentary, and charts its historical influence. In later medieval Jewish thought, few figures were unaffected by this foundational work of Maimonideanism.
  Rites of Synagogue Liturgy: Leopold Zunz - Avraham Fraenkel

For many years, Zunz’s study, originally published in 1859, served as a fundamental textbook for research on the history of prayer.This contemporary Hebrew translation includes research updates, many clarifications, and detailed indexes; among them an index of prayers, an index of prayer customs, an index of liturgical poetry, and an index of early manuscripts and printings of the prayer books mentioned in the study. In addition, the Hebrew edition includes notes and additions found on the author's personal copy, never to have been published before.


Liturgical Poems for Rosh Hashana: Rabbi Elazar Berabbi Qillir - Shulamit Elizur, Michael Rand

This book is devoted to the compositions that were written for Rosh Hashana by the illustrious poet R. El‘azar berabbi Qillir, who was active in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the seventh century. The piyyutim for Rosh Hashana are many and varied, and they adorn all of the special prayers for the festival. A number of these piyyutim are known and recited to this day in Ashkenazi congregations, while others are published here for the first time.

This edition has been prepared on the basis of close to 400 manuscripts, and all of the variant readings have been given in the margins. An extensive commentary aids the reader in understanding the difficult idiom of the payyetan, identifying the many scriptural and midrashic sources that are woven into the piyyutim, and following the development of their themes.


Moses b. Judah: Ahava Ba-Taanugim, Part I (physics): Discourses 1-7 - Esti Eisenmann

The book Ahava ba-Taanugim (Love In delights) was written during the years 1353- 1356 by was written during the years 1353- 1356 by Rabbi Moses Ben Judah. It is a huge and comprehensive encyclopedia of Aristotelian physics and metaphysics and includes also a substantial theological section. Its author discusses and explains each scientific topic in a creative and innovative way: Some  explanations on matter, atoms, time and motion, have no source in the classical Aristotelian literature. These innovations contributed to the development of sciences of the author's days and they reflect new trends of the study of Aristotle's philosophy of nature among the 14th century scholars. These trends paved the ground for modern science that, as modern scholarship observed, did not emerge ex nihilo, but had its roots in the criticism of Aristotelian science in the 14th century.

The current book is a critical edition of the first seven discourses of the first part of the encyclopedia, which deals with physics. Each discourse deals with one scientific topic and includes some biblical commentarial chapters that aim to show the harmony between the scientific topic and the Torah and to expose the secrets that were hinted by Ibn Ezra, Maimonides and Nachmanides in their treatises. The edition includes an introduction which presents a general overview of the treatise: its period, place and its purpose, its sources and its approach. The introduction also describes and explains the content of the seven discourses presented in the edition and highlights its innovations and main original explanations. This book is in Hebrew edition only.


Livyat Ḥen: The Work of the Chariot by R. Levi ben Avraham - Haim (Howard) Kreisel


Critical annotated edition of part one of treatise seven of R. Levi's encyclopedia, which is devoted to an exegesis of the "Work of the Chariot". This volume also contains an edition of the surviving section of treatise five of the encyclopedia ("Divine Science") and a critical edition of the section of the poem "Battei ha-Nefesh ve-ha-Laḥashim" devoted to the "Work of the Chariot", together with the four medieval commentaries written on this section. The introduction to this volume discusses at length the interpretation of the "Work of the Chariot" from rabbinic times to R. Levi.

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the Provençal Jewish philosopher R. Levi ben Avraham wrote a unique treatise – an in-depth Hebrew encyclopedia of the sciences and of Judaism entitled Livyat Ḥen. R. Levi was known already in his lifetime as a leading exponent of the philosophical-allegorical interpretation of the Torah and of rabbinic midrash. In the Jewish part of his encyclopedia he deals with a myriad of topics, including Jewish ethics, prophecy, the reasons for the commandments, the stories of Moses and the patriarchs, the principles of faith, the Work of Creation, the Work of the Chariot, and the interpretation of rabbinic midrash and aggadah. Prior to Livyat Ḥen R. Levi wrote an encyclopedic poem of over 1000 stanzas in rhymed meter entitled Batei ha-Nephesh ve-ha-Laḥashim. This poem is devoted to the same topics in science and Judaism that are later discussed in great detail in his treatise.


Maharam of Rothenburg response (2 volumes) - Simcha Emanuel

Meir of Rothenburg(c. 1215 – 2 May 1293) was a German Rabbi and poet, a major author of the tosafot on Rashi's commentary on the Talmud. He is also known as Meir ben Baruch, the Maharam of Rothenburg His responsaare of great importance to advanced students of the Talmud, as well as to students of Jewish life and customs of the 13th Century.


The Commentary of Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir (Rashbam) on the Song of Songs - Sara Japhet

This commentary was first published in 1855 in the Aharon Yelink Edition of the 32 Hamburg manuscripts and was welcomed happily by the Jewish Sages of that generation, however it was quickly forgotten and its relation to RASHBAM was distrusted. The damaged edition, in which it was published, did not benefit it either, and it hardly left any impression on the Biblical research of the new age. The current essay is a revised scientific edition of the commentary, based on all the known wording testimonies known today: 3 complete manuscripts, 2 segments of other manuscripts and another written testimony of another manuscript which we do not hold. The commentary's edition is preceded by a comprehensive preface which deals with a wide range of subjects:

identifying the commentary's author, its affinity to other essays by RASHBAM, the sources of the commentary, the literary aspects of the commentary, allegoric commentary of Song of Songs and his message according to his time and era, verbal issues in the commentary and an introduction to this edition.

Wherefore Have We Fasted? - Shaulamit Elizur
Jedidiah Solomon Raphael Norzi, Minhat Shay on the Torah - Zvi Betser
The Liturgical Poems of Rabbi Pinhas Ha-Cohen - Shulamit Elizur
This book presents Piyyutim (liturgical poetry) written by one of the most important poets in the Land of Israel, Rabbi PinhasHacohen birabiYaacov, who lived in the area of Tiberias in the 8th century. The Piyyutim are taken from manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah, and are published for the first time. R' Pinhas seals the classic period of early Paytanim (authors of liturgical poetry) in the Land of Israel. His work preserves the variety of genres typical for classic Piyyutim, yet shows early signs of developments characteristic to late Eastern liturgical poetry. R' Pinhas' Piyyutim reveal a great poet with impressive compositional durability. In some of them he reaches unique climaxes, especially through dramatic developments in the Piyut.
Livyat Ḥen: The Work of the Creation, by R. Levi ben Avraham - Haim Kreisel

 Critical annotated edition of the third part of treatise six of R. Levi's encyclopedia, which is devoted to an exegesis of the "Work of Creation". In this part R. Levi deals with the creation story in the Torah, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the stories of the early generations of humanity. The edition includes both the shorter and longer recensions of this part, as well as a critical edition of the section "Work of Creation" in R. Levi's encyclopedic poem, "Battei ha-Nefesh ve-ha-Laḥashim", together with the four medieval commentaries written on this section. The introduction to this volume discusses the author and his works and deals with the historical background to R. Levi's approach to the "Work of Creation".

Shem Tov ben Joseph Ibn Falaquera, Moreh ha-Moreh - Yair Shiffman
  Yehuda Ha-Levi and his Circle - Moshe Gil and Ezra Fleischer
Jedidiah Solomon Raphael Norzi, The Addenda to Minhat Shay - Zvi Betser
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The Dawn of Hebrew Linguistics (2 Volumes)
Aron Dotan
The Book of Elegance of the Hebrew Language is Saadia Gaon's (892-942) Judeo-Arabic work on Hebrew linguistics. It is the first Hebrew grammar book, describing for the first time the Hebrew language, its letters, the vowels and the shewa, the dageshs, the influence of the gutturals, the inflections etc.
The edition comprises of two volumes: the first is the introduction describing the work and its date, its structure and relationship to other works, with an analysis of the linguistic theory and the various grammatical issues as well as a comprehensive vocabulary of terminology, a complete survey of the chapters, a description of the manuscripts and method of editing and finally an extensive bibliography. The second volumes holds the original Arabic text with a Hebrew translation by the editor, and apparatus of various readings and numerous commenting notes and indices.
Targumic Toseftot to the Prophets - Rimon Kasher
Shiv'atot for the Weekly Tora Readings - Shulamit Elizur
This book represents a first attempt to assemble liturgical poems in a scientific edition according to their genre rather than according to authorship. All the Shiv‛atot cycles (liturgical poems for shabbat Amidah prayer) composed according to the order of the weekly Torah portion have been collected from the Genizah manuscripts. The book presents three main cycles, representing three stages in the history of liturgical poems: The remnants of an ancient Shiv‛atot cycle (composed around the sixth century) which was dedicated to the reading order of the Eretz-Israel triennial cycle, and two Shiv‛atot cycles for the annual cycle's tractates – one of which was probably composed around the ninth or tenth century and remains loyal to the classical traditions of the genre, and the second, probably composed at the end of the tenth century or the beginning of the eleventh, which reflects a stage in which the later poets abandoned the ancient patterns or restricted them. Alongside these cycles, sections of other Shiv‛atot cycles whose remnants were found in the Genizah are included.
The poems are printed in their entirety, with variant manuscripts readings and detailed notes. The book opens with an introduction that describes each cycle in detail and examines the development of the genre over the generations