Hebrew Manuscripts : The Rylands Leipnik Haggadah

Hebrew Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The Rylands Leipnik Haggadah is a Passover Haggadah copied and partially decorated by Joseph ben David of Leipnik (Moravia, Czech Republic) in Altona near Hamburg in the first half of the eighteenth century. The well-known scribe/artist imitates the printed type known as “letters of Amsterdam” (otiyot Amsterdam) developed by Hebrew book printers in seventeenth-century Amsterdam. Iconographically speaking, the Haggadah is based on the 1695 Amsterdam printed Haggadah. The decorations comprise a copper-engraved title-page, painted panels, painted engraved initial-words framed by ornaments and gilded borders. The Rylands Leipnik Haggadah combines the Ashkenazic and Sephardic rites and includes liturgical instructions in Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino. It also contains three commentaries, namely a commentary by the medieval Spanish scholar Isaac Abravanel, the seventeenth-century Aaron’s Rod by Aaron ben Moses Teomim and the anonymous mystical Commentary according to the Secret [Meaning]. As Iris Fishof has shown, what is special about this particularly fine Haggadah is the fact that Joseph Leipnik seems to have completed his work on it in London in close collaboration with a Christian artist, who produced the miniatures and some further decorations. Most likely the manuscript was commissioned by a member of the English aristocracy. The date of production stated in the manuscript is 1710. Most scholars place it in 1740, i.e. in the period of Joseph Leipnik’s greatest activity.</p>

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