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Pesak: al nigun keriat shema be-nigun ba-ir Korfu. Last leaf



Pesak al nigun keriat shema be-nigun ba-ir Korfu.
Manuscript in Hebrew on paper.
Greece, 1753.
MS X893 Sh354
Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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Formal music was not a part of Jewish prayer until relatively modern times, but there were contentious periods when debates arose regarding the place of any music in prayer.  18th century Corfu was one such place and time.  This manuscript describes the conflict that arose in 18th century Corfu over a special tune for the Shema prayer which was used on holidays.  Two of the leading rabbis of Corfu, Ḥayyim Shabtai Ha-Cohen and Eliyahu ben Menaḥem Ha-Cohen, disagreed with two other rabbis, Eliyahu de Mordo and Eliezer de Mordo, as to whether the tune was appropriate for synagogue use.  This manuscript is a lengthy responsa discussing the debate.  Approvals of the responsa (in Hebrew and Italian) by Rabbis from Safed, Salonika, and Padua are located at the end of the manuscript. The question generating the discussion is preserved in a folded piece of paper at the beginning of the manuscript.

Although the dispute became rather heated at times, it is clear that mutual respect remained between the rabbis, as indicated by a eulogy written for Eliyahu ben Menaḥem Ha-Cohen by Eliezer de Mordo.

Purchased for Columbia by Salo Baron from David Fraenkel, 1933.


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