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December 09, 1988 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

a will,
a way

When you leave a bequest in
your will to the Federated
Endowment Fund, you help our
Jewish community plan for the
future .. .

You provide a way to sustain
important humanitarian services for
your children and grandchildren .. .

You help ensure that Jewish life
will remain strong and vibrant.

Remember the Endowment Fund in your will.

It's a smart way to provide a permanent legacy of caring
for the community.

It's an investment in life.

Talmudic researcher Menachem Katz enters the text of fragments of
Dead Sea Scrolls onto a computerized data base at the Jewish
Theological Seminary's Lieberman Institute, Jerusalem.

For information on the many types of giving options, contact:

The Federated Endowment Fund

Jewish Research Facility
Traces Rare Manuscripts

of the United Jewish Charities


163 Madison Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226-2180

Special to The Jewish News

4 11 erusalem — The Tal-

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544. -3322 -

mud was a controver-
sial document from its
outset, in ancient Israel and
later in Babylonia, where it
received its final form around
the Fifth Century. It records
the various factions within
the Jewish people who ac-
cepted or rejected its
premises, as well as the
strong disputations between
the various schoolsof rabbis
who created it.
While in the past yeshivah
students gathered in groups
and argued among
themselves as to the intent of
the words, in recent years new
academies have arisen, which
take a very different tack.
One such institution based in
Jerusalem is the Saul Lieber-
man Institute of Talmudic
Research, a department of the
Jewish Theological Seminary
of America.
The first step of research is
to obtain the various
manuscripts that exist in the
great research libraries
around the world, such as
that of the British Museum or
the Vatican.
Sometimes, the texts can be
found in the most surprising
of places. Several years ago,
for example, I was approach-
ed by a congregant who had
in turn been approached by
an acquaintance, who was a
librarian in the highly
regarded Huntington Library
in San Marino,Calif. He had
been examining a rare bok in

its collection, a Latin work
dated to the 15 Century and
had discovered letters in
Hebrew along the inner bin-
ding. Upon studying them I
was able to determine that
they were from the page of
the Babylonian Talmud
which dealt with Jacob's
dream of the angels ascen-
ding and descending the
I assumed that some scribe,
sitting in a monastical or
ducal library, in need of scrap
paper to bind the book he was
copying, pasted just those
words of the Talmud into his
binding, rather than consign
them to the waste bin.
The original fragment still
sits in California, but a copy
has now been added to the
numerous manuscripts of
part or all of the Talmud in
the archives of the Lieberman
Under the guidance of Prof.
Shama Friedman, director of
the institute, trained scholars
examine the extant
manuscripts, decipher the
texts, often crumpled and
torn with age and wear. Their
readings are then fed into a
computer where they are
According to Friedman,
"Our eventual aim is to ac-
quire all primary texts of the
Babylonian Talmud, in-
cluding manuscripts, com-
plete and fragmentary, and
first printed editions."

Under the guidance of Dr.
Chaim Milikowsky, the in-
stitute is compiling data on
all literature relating to both

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