This codex is widely considered to be one of the most original of extant medieval mahzorim (Jewish holy day prayer books) from Spain, dating probably from the beginning of the 14th century. Written in Hebrew in Sephardic square characters, it contains two distinct parts that later were bound together. The larger part forms a Haggadah shel Pesach (the text of the order of service used at the beginning of Passover). It includes piyutim (liturgical poems, usually sung or chanted) for Passover and the Aramaic targum (translation) of Exodus, followed by liturgical poetry for Shavuot (which commemorates the gift of the Torah to the Israelites) and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Most characteristic is the way key words of the liturgy are illustrated, the characters being transformed into zoomorphic and anthropomorphic grotesque creatures, a fashion that was widespread in medieval Jewish manuscripts in Spain. The manuscript originally belonged to the famous collection of manuscripts and incunabula owned by Alexander, Earl of Hamilton, which was acquired in 1882 by the Prussian state. Since 1919, the Hebrew items from the collection have been in the holdings of the Oriental Department of the Berlin State Library.

Last updated: January 8, 2018