Cinema, Art etc.

For the 50th Anniversary of the Museum of Israel, a Manuscript from the Vatican


 Terrasanta.net |  June 1, 2015

One of the two tomes of the Mishneh Torah on display at the Museum of Israel, Jerusalem. (photo CTS/mab)

Since 21stMay, the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem has had two 15th century illuminated volumes on display, which the public can admire until 20th September. This is a minor event which brings together, after centuries, two parts of the same work: a copy of the Mishne Torah by Moses Maimonides produced in northern Italy around 1457. The initiative was made possible by the collaboration between the Museum and the Vatican Library.


(g.s.) – Since 21st May, the Museum of Israel, in Jerusalem, has had two 15th century illuminated volumes on display, which the public can admire until 20th September. It is a minor event which brings together, after centuries, two parts of the same work: a copy of the Mishne Torah, the code of Talmudic law written by the philosopher, doctor and scholar Moses Maimonides (also known as  Rambam), a figure who towers over the history of Judaism and Jewish thought (to the extent of even being called the “second Moses”).

He was born in Cordoba in 1135 and he died in Cairo in 1204 and is known to the Arabs as Abu Imran Musa bin Maimun bin Abd Allah. He lived and studied amongst the Arabs from his youth, after having been forced to leave his native Spain with his whole family. He settled first in Fez in Morocco, then in the Holy land and lastly in Egypt, where his earthly journey came to an end.

The two tomes of the Mishneh Torah on display now at the Museum of Israel formed a single work produced in northern Italy around 1457. Little is known about the author of the miniature except a vague name – Nehemiah – nor are the reasons for the separation of the two volumes known. After various vicissitudes and passing from one hand to another over the centuries, today the two books have different owners; one is part of the collections of the Vatican Library, the other was bought jointly in 2013 by the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Museum of Israel. For the first time they are side by side, for a few months, thanks to an example of collaboration between the Vatican and Israeli cultural institutions.

The loan by the Vatican is, to some extent, a gesture of tribute to the 50 years of activity of the Museum of Israel, which celebrates this anniversary this year.

The simple ceremony of inauguration of the exhibition, on 21st May, was also attended by religious authorities such as the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef, the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Vicar for Israel of the Latin Patriarch. A small delegation of friars from the Custody of the Holy Land, including the dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Fra Massimo Pazzini, was also present.

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