Friday, March 22, 2013

Borders, Breasts, and Bibliography

Borders, Breasts, and Bibliography
By Elliott Horowitz

Dan Rabinowitz has provided us which a characteristically learned pre-Passover post on the Prague 1526 Haggadah, specifically concerning the illustrations on its borders, and from those borders continues on to the always contentious subject of breasts, a bare set (or rather, two bare sets) of which he claims may be found on the title page of that edition. Indeed, on both the right and left borders of the title page may be found rather curious figures with non-human faces but quite human- looking breasts; yet those breasts are not bare, but rather bound in form-fitting corsets from which the nipples peek out. Readers may search on their own, online or elsewhere, for images of such nipple -revealing bodices, which were popular in English masque costumes of the early seventeenth century,[1] but I will provide only a quotation from the celebrated English traveler Fynes Moryson (1566-1630) on the women of late sixteenth-century Venice who “weare gowns, leaving all of the neck and brest bare, and they are closed before with a lace....they show their naked breasts, and likewise their dugges, bound up and swelling with linnen, and all made white by art.”[2]

Here is the title page::

From the breasts on the borders of the Prague Haggadah's title page Rabinowitz moves on to the less contentious pair to be found in the Haggadah itself, appropriately accompanying the quotation from Ezekiel 16. He charitably notes that “both Charles Wengrov and Elliot[t] Horowitz have pointed to earlier manuscript antecedents of Prague's usage of such illustrations,” but then takes issue with “Hor[o]witz's contention that Spanish Jews were less accepting of such displays.” To that end he presents, in living color, two panels from the so-called “Sarajevo Haggadah,” illustrated in fourteenth-century Spain, depicting “a bare-breasted Eve,” and another illustration from the “Golden Haggadah,” - of similar provenance – depicting female bathers in a scene of the finding of Moses.

Yet in all those instances the semi-nude women are shown either in profile with partially covered breasts, or with breasts of rather adolescent dimensions – in contrast to the more amply-bosomed maiden depicted frontally in the Prague Haggadah (and uncensored facsimiles thereof), but not in Rabinowitz's otherwise amply illustrated post. Moreover, in contrast to the rather demure female figures in the late medieval Spanish haggadot, the “Prague Venus” (as I shall call her) gazes directly at the viewer – in a manner reminiscent of Titian's “Venus of Urbino,” completed a dozen years after the 1526 Haggadah was published. It may be noted that two bare-breasted mermaids are frontally depicted on a bronze Hannukah lamp from sixteenth-century Italy in the Israel Museum's Stieglitz collection.[3]

As far as the Prague Haggadah's date, Rabinowitz (gently) chides me for taking Efrat's Religious Council to task not only for deleting the semi-nude scene from the 2001 facsimile edition in honor of their settlement's twentieth anniversary, but for giving the Haggadah's date as 1527 rather than 1526. Rabinowitz justifies that error by noting that the (uncensored) Berlin facsimile - whose date he gives erroneously as 1925 rather than 1926 - gave the Haggadah's date as “5287/1527.” This is indeed true of its frontispiece, but in my battered copy of the Berlin facsimile a previous owner helpfully left behind a double-side flyer for the Haggadah which includes the more accurate information: “GEDRUCKT ZU PRAAG, 5287/1526.”

In my modest collection of haggadot the Berlin facsimile of the Prague Haggadah sits next to an octavo-size paperback of that same Haggadah issued in 1965 by Israel's Ministry of Housing. It's frontispiece reads:

שי לחג הפסח מוגש ע"י מפעל החסכון לבנין
לחוסכים במפעלי החסכון

Although the date of the Haggadah is there too given erroneously as 1527, Israel's Mapai-controlled Housing Ministry of 1965 saw no reason to make the same breast-related deletions as Efrat's Religious Council thirty six years later – or perhaps did not yet have (or afford) the technical ability to do so. The minister of housing before Passover of  that year  was Yosef Almogi, who had  been general secretary of Mapai during the early 1960's but joined Ben-Gurion's renegade Rafi party before the November elections of 1965, after which he was  replaced by Levi Eshkol. The copy in my possession previously belonged to David Zakkai (1886-1978), who was briefly general secretary of the Histadrut before David Ben-Gurion assumed that position  in 1921, and after the founding of Davar in 1925 wrote for that newspaper for many years under the pen-name "Z. David."  He won the Sokolov prize for journalism in 1956. Some three decades later many of the books previously in his possession were being sold off as duplicates by the library of Ben-Gurion University, which was named after yet another Mapai politician -  Zalman Aranne (1899-1970), who had also been general secretary of the party, and later served( twice) as  Israel's secretary of education and culture.

The old days of Mapai dominance are well behind us, but so are the days when  Israel's housing ministry could reprint a Haggadah showing bare breasts. As I write, the newly installed minister of housing is  Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home, whose predecessor was a member of Shas. Perhaps the additional funds that are now expected to come Efrat's way will allow its Religious Council to put out another facsimile edition celebrating yet another expansion of that venerable settlement. My own suggestion is Ze'ev Raban's illustrated Shir ha-Shirim, also suitable for Passover, but not yet available in a kosher edition. It will certainly keep their censorship committee busy.

[1] See recently Barbara Ravelhofer, The Early Stuart Masque: Dance, Costume, and Music (2009).
[2] F. Moryson, An Itinerary...(1617, reprint 1907-8), recently quoted in M. F. Rosenthal, “Cutting a Good Figure...,” in M. Feldman and B. Gordon eds. The Courtesan's Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (2006), 61. See there also illus. 2.2.
[3] For reproductions of the image see Chaya Benjamin ed., The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art (1987), 157; Elliott Horowitz, “Families and their Fortunes: The Jews of Early Modern Italy,” in David Biale ed., Cultures of the Jews (2002), 578.  

Appendix by Dan Rabinowitz:
In addition to the censored reproductions discussed in the post and the one provided by Elliott Horowitz, we provide an additional example in this ever growing genre. One of the more well-known series that reproduce facsimile haggadot are those published on behalf of the Diskin Orphan Hospital Ward of Israel. As a fundraiser, they publish and distribute a different reprint of an earlier haggadah both print and manuscript. (See here discussing the Washington Haggadah reprint that led to accusation of heresy ). The first haggadah reprinted in this series is the Prague 1526. But, there are numerous errors and significant omissions in this reproduction. First the title, "The First Known Printed Passover Haggadah by Gershom Kohen Prague 5287/1527." This edition of the haggadah is not the first known printed haggadah, that is likely circa 1486, by Soncino (see Yerushalmi, Haggadah & History, plates 2-3; Issakson, no. 29), and the first illustrated is the 1512 Latin. In the introduction written by Dr. Aaron Rosmarin, he offers that Prague 1526 is "the oldest printed Hagadah graced with woodcuts." Again that is wrong. The 1486 haggadah already includes a handful of woodcuts.

Instead, at best, Prague 1526 is the first fully illustrated haggadah for a Jewish audience. The title also contains an error regarding the secular date, giving it at 1527. Rosmarin compounds this error. First he hedges on the secular year, when he explains that this editions was "printed by Gershom ben Shlomoh ha-Kohen and his brother Gronem in Prague 1526/27" but then zeros in on exactly when it "was completed on Sunday, the 26th of the month of Teves, 5287 (in January 1527)." It was December 30, 1526 and not some time in January 1527.

Additionally, regarding the nude image accompanying Ezekiel 16:7 that is omitted in its entirety. Although this omission (as well as a two other seeming non-offensive images) is not noted in the introduction, Rosmarin is careful to explain (without irony) that the 1526 edition contains some minor textual variants and omits the songs Ehad mi Yodeh and Had Gadyah, therefore this facsimile is not being reproduced to be used at the seder as "there are Hagadahs in abundance" for that purpose. Instead, the reason for reproducing Prague 1526 is because "this Hagadah is of great value for its art and uniqueness."

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Cup for the Visitor: What lies behind the Kos Shel Eliyahu?

The Cup for the Visitor: What lies behind the Kos Shel Eliyahu?
By: Eliezer Brodt

In this post I would like to deal with tracing the early sources for the Kos Shel Eliyahu. A version of this article was printed last year in Ami Magazine (# 65).  This post contains a few corrections and additions to that version. A much more expanded version of this article will appear in Hebrew shortly (IY"H).

One of the memorable parts of the seder night is during Shefoch Chamascha when we open the door for Eliyahu Hanavi to come inside and drink from the Kos Shel Eliyahu. Children all over the world look carefully to see if there is less wine in the cup after he leaves, while many adults ‘accidently’ shake the table to make sure that there is less wine. What are the sources of this custom? When do we pour the kos of wine and what should we do with the leftover wine from the kos—drink it, spill it out, or save it? In this article I hope to trace this custom to its earliest known sources and to discuss some other aspects of the seder night related to this topic.[1] I would like to point out that my intention in this article is not to collect all the sources and reasons on these specific topics but rather to focus on the earliest sources and how these various minhagim came about.[2]

To begin with, it is worth pointing out that as far as we know today, there is no mention of the concept of Kos Shel Eliyahu in all of the literature that we have from the Geonim and Rishonim. Neither is there mention of it in the Tur, Shulchan Orach, Rema, or other early commentators on the Shulchan Orach.

One of the earliest mentions of a Kos Shel Eliyahu can be found in Rabbi Yaakov Reischer’s (1660-1733) work, Chok Yaakov on Hilchos Pesach, first printed in 1696, in Dessau. He wrote that in his area, people had the custom to pour an extra glass of wine and call it Kos Shel Eliyahu.[3] He does not mention a reason for this custom, or at what point during the seder it is done, nor does he connect it to the opening of the door during Shefoch Chamascha or the idea Eliyahu Hanavi comes to the Seder.

Rabbi Chaim Benveniste (1603-1673), famous for his work Knesses Hagedolah, in his work on Pesach called Pesach Meuvin, first printed in 1692, writes that he saw some Ashkenazi Jews that leave an empty glass in the middle of the table for the leftovers of each cup of wine, and they call it Kos Shel Eliyahu. He writes that he liked this minhag so much that he started doing it himself, and he drank this glass during the Meal.[4] Here too, there is no connection made between the Kos Shel Eliyahu and opening the door during Shefoch Chamascha for Eliyahu Hanavi.

In 1728, Rabbi Moshe Chagiz (1671-1751), printed part of a work of his, on minhagim, in the back of Sefer Birchat Eliyahu[5]. He writes that he was asked about the custom of Ashkenazi Jews to pour a cup of wine at the beginning of the seder for Eliyahu Hanavi, and that after the seder the head of the household slept next to this full glass of wine. Rabbi Moshe Chagiz was asked if observing this custom was a problem of nichush [divination].

Rabbi Chagiz replied that it was not a problem of nichush at all. He explained that the reason for this custom was similar to the reason we prepare a special chair for Eliyahu Hanavi at a bris milah.[6] Eliyahu Hanavi witnesses that the bris is performed. So too, on Pesach, Eliyahu Hanavi is supposed to be a witness that the Korban Pesach is done properly. The Korban Pesach is dependent on milah, since the halacha is that only someone with a bris milah can eat the Korban Pesach.[7] However it is important to point out that according to this reasoning, Eliyahu Hanavi does come to the seder, but it would seem that this would apply only during the times when the Korban Pesach was eaten.

New early sources for Kos Shel Eliyahu

Until 1984 these were the three earliest sources that made any mention of Kos Shel Eliyahu. In 1984, Rabbi Binyomin Nuzetz printed parts of a manuscript of Rabbi Zeligman Benga on Pesachim. Rabbi Benga was a grandson of Rabbi Menachem Tzioni and a close talmid of the Maharil, and he died around 1471. Rabbi Benga writes that he noticed some people pour a special glass of wine and call it Kos Shel Eliyahu. He writes that a possible reason for this is that we pour wine for Eliyahu Hanavi, since we are expecting him to come and he will need wine for the Arba Kosos.[8] This source helps us date the Kos Shel Eliyahu a few hundred years earlier than previously thought. Previously, the earliest source was printed in 1692. What is interesting about this source is that he was not sure where the minhag came from and, again, he mentions no connection to Shefoch Chamascha.

In 1988, the department in Machon Yerushalayim that prints early works of German Jewry printed two volumes from manuscript from Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash (1604-1678) of Worms. Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash writes that it was the custom in Worms at the beginning of the seder to pour one extra cup of wine. Just as we say in the Haggadah, “Kol dichfin yesev v’yachul,” we prepare a glass for the guest who might come. This glass is called Kos Shel Eliyahu since this is the guest we await. Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash brings another reason why it is called Kos Shel Eliyahu: because it is a segulah to say “Eliyahu” to get rid of mazikim [destructive forces], and we do various things on the seder night to chase away the mazikim.[9]

In 1985, a manuscript of Rav Yaakov Emden was printed in the Kovetz Kerem Shlomo of Bobov. This manuscript contained Rav Yaakov Emden’s notes on the Pesach Meuvin of Rabbi Chaim Benveniste. He says that there is a minhag to have a Kos Shel Eliyahu but not to pour leftover wine in a cup for him—that would not be an honor for him at all. He points out that the Chazal say not to drink from a cup that someone else drank from.[10]

Additional Reasons for Kos Shel Eliyahu

Rabbi Aron of Metz (1754-1836) suggested that the origin of the Kos Shel Eliyahu is that on Pesach the head of the household does not pour for everyone. Therefore, out of convenience, people would leave a big cup in the middle of the table for everyone to take from. Once the children started asking what the cup was for, they would tell them it was a cup for Eliyahu Hanavi.[11]

Rabbi Mordechai Gimpel Yaffe suggests an original possibility for the Kos Shel Eliyahu. The halacha is that when one makes a seudah he should leave over a little space empty as a zecher l’churban. He says that on Pesach, a glass of wine was left over as a zecher l’churban. It was called Kos Shel Eliyahu to represent the hope that Eliyahu Hanavi would come quickly to correct the Churban.[12]
Rabbi Shimon Falk asks the following question: The halacha is that one cannot bring a full loaf of bread to the table before bentching, since it looks like one is doing it for some form of idol worship. So why isn’t it a problem to prepare a glass of wine for Eliyahu Hanavi? Rabbi Falk suggests that it this might the reason we do not find any mention of a Kos Shel Eliyahu in the Gemara, but today, when there is no one amongst the goyim who worship in this manner, it’s not a problem.[13]

Maharal Haggadah

In 1905, in Warsaw, Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg printed the Haggadah of the Maharal which he claimed was from a manuscript of the Maharal’s son in law. In this Haggadah there is a lengthy discussion of the number of glasses of wine one should drink at the seder. The Maharal concludes that one has to drink five cups of wine and that this fifth cup is the Kos Shel Eliyahu.[14] If this is correct we have an early source for Kos Shel Eliyahu, the Maharal, and based on his words we would have many more early sources, since various Rishonim listed by the Maharal mention a fifth glass of wine.

However, it has been proven that, although Rabbi Rosenberg was a tremendous talmid chacham, he was also a forger. He may have possibly had good intentions behind his forgeries.[15] His most notable forgery was the story about the Maharal’s golem.[16] Rabbi Avraham Benidict devoted two articles to proving that this Haggadah is a forgery.[17] One of the points he discusses relates to our topic. The Maharal printed a work in 1582 about Pesach and the seder titled Gevuros Hashem. In this work the Maharal writes that one may drink a fifth cup, but he doesn’t connect the fifth cup to Kos Shel Eliyahu.

The Fifth Cup of Wine

However, whether or not the Maharal said that one has to drink a fifth cup, and whether or not he says that this is the Kos Shel Eliyahu, there are others that make a connection between the fifth cup and Kos Shel Eliyahu. A small introduction is needed. The Mishnah in the beginning of Arvei Pesachim says that even a poor person has to have four cups of wine at the seder. Later on, the Mishna and Gemara discuss exactly when the cups should be poured and drunk. The Gemara (119a) says that Reb Tarfon held that the fourth cup should be drunk after we say Hallel Hagadol. Many Geonim and Rishonim interpret this to be referring to a fifth cup of wine. In 1950 Rabbi Menachem Kosher printed a booklet collecting all the Geonim and Rishonim that deal with this issue and he showed that many held that one should, but does not have to, drink a fifth cup of wine.[18] It is worth noting that in Teiman[19] and in Italy,[20] many people drink a fifth cup of wine at the seder because of this. None of the sources that Rav Kasher collected tie this fifth cup to the Kos Shel Eliyahu.

Some bring in the name of the Gra,[21] others in the name of Rabbi Ephraim Zalman Margolis,[22] an interesting explanation for the development of the Kos Shel Eliyahu. There is an argument in the Gemara in Pesachim (119a) whether one needs to drink the fifth glass of wine. There is no final halacha given. Because we are not sure what to do, we prepare a cup of wine, but do not drink it. The reason it is called Kos Shel Eliyahu is because Eliyahu is going to come and tell us what the din is.[23]

So according to this Gra, Kos Shel Eliyahu is not really a new concept. It always existed, as the numerous sources that Rav Kasher collected demonstrate, but it was not called Kos Shel Eliyahu.

Many times we have different versions of something said over in the name of the Gra. Sometimes that is because things were added to what he actually said. In this case, one version has the Gra saying this idea a bit differently, that the opinion in the Gemara that one should drink a fifth cup of wine was Reb Eliyahu, so the fifth cup is called Kos Shel Eliyahu after him. This version concludes that this reason was revealed to the Vilna Gaon because his name was Eliyahu, as well. The problem with this version is that as far as we know there was no Tanna or Amorah with the name Eliyahu and that the person who said to drink a fifth cup of wine was Reb Tarfon.[24]

Be that as it may, it is likely that there are early sources for a fifth cup of wine at the seder and at some point its name became Kos Shel Eliyahu. But none of these explanations (except for that of Rav Moshe Chagiz) tie the cup to Eliyahu coming to the seder.

The Custom of Opening the Door

There is a custom of many that before we begin saying Shefoch Chamascha someone opens the door. What is the source for this minhag? One of the earliest sources of keeping the door open the whole night of Pesach is found in the Geonim. Rav Nissim Gaon says that one should be careful to leave open the doors the whole night.[25] The Manhig explains that this is because the night of Pesach is Leil Shimurim and if Eliyahu will come the door will be open and we would be able to run and greet him.[26] The Rama writes in the Darchei Moshe that because of this we open the door when saying Shefoch Chamascha, to show that we believe in Hashem and that Moshiach should come.[27] So it is clear from this that there is some connection between Shefoch Chamascha and Moshiach coming, but there is no mention in the Geonim and Rishonim that Eliyahu comes when we open the door. Rather it is understood to be a preparation for his eventual coming. It is worth pointing out that not everyone said Shefoch Chamascha[28] and that there are many different versions of what is said by Shefoch Chamascha.[29]

Rabbi Yosef Hann Norlingen (1570-1637) writes in Yosef Ometz (first printed in 1723) that in Frankfurt there was a custom that when the door was opened by the head of the house at Shefoch Chamascha someone would come in the door, to show our belief that Moshiach will come.[30]

However, Rabbi Yair Chaim Bachrach of Worms writes in Mekor Chaim that the minhag that some had to have the form of a person appear when the door was opened at Shefoch Chamascha was not proper.[31]

Woodcuts and Pictures From Early Haggadahs

Some have claimed that there is no basis for a connection between Shefoch Chamascha and Eliyahu coming to the seder. However, as I will demonstrate, this is not so. Some of the earliest Haggadahs printed include many woodcuts and pictures of various aspects of the seder. These Haggadahs are a great resource to help find early sources of how various things were done at the seder.[32] Regarding Eliyahu Hanavi coming to the seder, Professor Sperber noted[33] that in a few of these Haggadahs there are pictures by Shefoch Chamascha of a man on a donkey in some of them he is being led by someone, for example, in the Prague Haggadah printed by Gershon Cohen in 1527.[34] The pictures were updated in a Haggadah printed in Prague in 1560. Another early Haggadah that has such pictures by Shefoch Chamascha can be found in the Haggadah printed in Mantuvah in 1550.[35] Yosef Guttman collected fifteen illustrated Haggadah manuscripts from the fifteenth century which all show a man on a donkey by Shefoch Chamascha.[36] From all this evidence it is clear that already a few hundred years ago there was a belief that when the door is opened by Shefoch Chamascha that there is a connection to Eliyahu Hanavi and Moshiach.

Mantua 1550:

Prague 1556:

Prague 1590:

Sleeping Near the Kos Shel Eliyahu

In 1958, Rabbi Yosef Avidah wrote a small work devoted to gathering all the known information about the Kos Shel Eliyahu. He makes the following interesting observation. Rabbi Moshe Chagiz writes that the custom was that the head of the house slept near the Kos Shel Eliyahu the whole night but he does not say why. He suggests that the reason for this was similar to the reason for sleeping with the door unlocked to show we eagerly await Eliyahu’s and Moshiach’s arrival. He goes further to show that there is an early source for this minhag. The Leket Yosher writes that his Rebbe, Reb Yisroel Isserlin, author of the Terumas Hadeshen, used to sleep on Pesach on the bed that he leaned on during the meal and he does not know what his reason for this was.[37] Rabbi Avidah suggests that he was sleeping there to remind himself of the concept that on Pesach night we show that we eagerly await Moshiach.[38]

It is interesting to note that the Likutei Chaver from Rabbi Chaim Plaut, a talmid of the Chasam Sofer, writes that the Chasam Sofer would keep the cup the entire night and use it for Kiddush the next morning.[39] This would seem to have a connection to the same idea.

However it is worth pointing out that these don’t point to a connection between Kos Shel Eliyahu and Shefoch Chamascha.

Opening the Door and Zugos

Another nice possibility given to explain the opening of the door by Shefoch Chamascha is from the Bais Halevi. The Rama says we open the door to show that it’s Leil Shimurim. The Bais Halevi comments that according to this it would make more sense to open the door at the beginning of the seder not at the end specifically when we say Kol dichfin yesev v’yachul ?[40] He answers that the Gemara in Pesachim (109 b) asks how can there be a halacha to drink four cups of wine if there is a danger to eat or drink things in pairs—which is known as zugos. The Gemara answers since it is Leil Shimurim, there is no danger. So the Bais Halevi says that we specifically open the door when the fourth cup is drunk to explain to the person who would ask why isn’t there a problem of zugos. We show him that it’s not a problem because it is Leil Shimurim as we open the door.[41]

Additional Reasons for Opening the Door by Shefoch Chamascha

 A similar explanation for the opening of the door specifically by Shefoch Chamascha is suggested by Rabbi Yosef Zechariah Stern. He says the Gemara in Pesachim says another way that there is no problem of zugos is if one opens the door to the street. So that is why we open the door specifically at this point in the seder.[42]

Others suggest the reason for the opening of the door by Shefoch Chamascha was to show the gentile neighbors that the accusations against the Jews about using blood of Christians and the like are false.[43]
Rabbi Shmule Ruzuvski suggested that the possible reason why the door is opened by Shefoch Chamascha is because when we used to eat the Korban Pesach the halacha is that one cannot take any of it out of the house so they used to lock the door. After bentching, they would go to the roof to say Hallel, so they opened the door.[44]

A Very Original Explanation for this Custom of Eliyahu Hanavi and the Seder

One possible explanation of why Eliyahu Hanavi is associated with the seder could be the following: Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash writes[45] that on Pesach night we say Eliyahu and Moshiach will come, because mazikin run away from a place where they recite Eliyahu’s name. He says that because of this some make a picture of Eliyahu and Moshiach for the children, so that the children seeing it will say “Eliyahu,” causing the mazikin to disappear.[46] Interestingly enough he writes that this could also be the reason it is called Kos Shel Eliyahu to get rid of the mazikin.[47] According to all this, what lies behind saying Eliyahu’s name at the seder is simply a desire to get rid of mazikin. Earlier I mentioned the Bais Halevi and others who say that the opening of the door at the seder by Shefoch Chamascha is to get rid of mazikin. According to Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamsash this was the also reason some used to draw pictures of Eliyahu and Moshiach.

Eliyahu Actually Comes

There are quite a number of stories concerning Eliyahu at the seder just to list some of them:

 The Yismach Moshe once sent some of his chassdim to eat the seder with the Chasam Sofer. When they returned they told him that in the middle something strange happened. A farmer came in. He drank a cup of wine that the Chasam Sofer gave him and then the Chasam Sofer drank from the cup after him. The Yismach Moshe told them that this was Eliyahu Hanavi.[48]

The Chiddushei HaRim once was speaking about the greatness of the Nodeh B’Yehuda. He said that when the Noda B’Yehuda would say Shefoch Chamascha he would escort Eliyahu Hanavi all the way to the street. The Noda B’Yehuda said, “It’s not that I actually see him, but rather that I believe so strongly that he does come to everyone, and this emunah is better than gilui Eliyahu![49]

Rabbi Yitchock Weiss writes that Rabbi Shneur Lublin, author of the Shut Toras Chesed, did not allow anyone to eat at his seder, He also told said that Eliyahu or a messenger comes to every great person on the night of the seder.[50]

The Belzer Rebbe would great Eliyahu when he opened the door by Shefoch Chamascha.[51]

Rabbi Yitchock Weiss writes that Rabbi Chaim Gottlieb of Stropkov would be visited by Eliyahu Hanavi at the seder. Many wanted to come to see this so they asked him permission to come. He answered, “Why not?” While they were there, they fell into a deep sleep until the seder was over.[52]


In conclusion there are definitely early sources that talk about a fifth cup of wine at the seder. According to some, this fifth cup at some point started being called Kos Shel Eliyahu. Starting from the late 1400s we find that people would pour a special kos, and call it Kos Shel Eliyahu.  I have shown that there are early sources for opening the door at Shefoch Chamascha that give various reasons. I also showed that there are many drawings by Shefoch Chamascha of a man on a donkey and Eliyahu found in the early manuscripts and printed illustrated Haggadahs. This would logically lead us to conclude that there was a belief that he did indeed come to visit when the door is opened and I offered another possible explanation for all this. May we be zocheh for Eliyahu to come with Moshiach this year at the Leil Haseder.

[1] For sources on this topic that helped me prepare this article See Rabbi Yosef Zecharia Stern, Zecher Yehosef, pp. 39-40; Rabbi Moshe Weingarten, Seder Ha-Aruch 1 (1991), pp.576-582; Shmuel & Zev Safrai,Haggadas Chazal, (1998), pp.177-178; Rabbi Gedaliah Oberlander, Minhag Avosenu Beydenu, 2, pp. 392-409; Rabbi Tuviah Freund, Moadim Li-Simcha (Pesach), pp. 358-376; Pardes Eliezer, pp. 180-243. These collections of sources were useful but it is worth noting that much earlier than all these collections many of the sources on this topic were already collected by Rabbi Yosef Avidah in 1958, in a small work called Koso Shel Eliyahu. As I mentioned a few weeks ago I recently reprinted this work with additions from the author's copy. Another earlier useful article on the topic is from Yehudah Rosenthal, Mechkarim 2, pp. 645- 651. For general useful collections of material related to Eliyahu Hanavi see the two volume work Romot Gilod from Rabbi Eliezer Veisfish, (2005) and the earlier work of Aharon Weiner, The Prophet Elijah in the Development of Judaism (1978).
I would like to thank my good friend Yisroel Israel for help with the beautiful pictures to accompany this article.
[2] I hope to return to all this in my forthcoming article in Hebrew on this topic.
[3] Chok Yaakov, end of Siman 480.
[4] Pesach Meuvin (1997), p. 124, #182.
[5] See also the end of his Shut Shtei Lechem. Rabbi Freund (above note 1), p. 359 was apparently not aware of where this piece was printed first. This explanation is also brought in Rabbi Dovid Zecut, Zecher Dovid, Mamar Rishon, Chapter 26, pp. 174-175. See Elisheva Carlbach, The Pursuit of Heresy, (1990) esp. pp. 247-249.
[6] I hope to return to this topic in a future article.
[7] See Hagadat Baer Miriam of Rabbi Reven Margolis (2002), p. 90-91 where Rabbi Magolis brings a similar idea from the Toras Emes.
[8] Moriah, 13, (1984), n. 146-147, p. 17. See Chidushei MaHarz Binga, (1985), p.195.
[9] Minhaghim De-Kehal VerMeizah, (1988), p. 85-86.
[10] Kovetz Kerem Shlomo, 76 (1985) p. 7
[11] Meorei Or, Pesachim. On this work see the important article of Yakov Speigel, Yerushaseinu 3 (2009, pp. 269-309.
[12] Techeles Mordechaei in Keser Kehunah, (2004), p. 40. See also his Hagadas Mordechai, p. 75.
[13] Shut Shem Mishimon, (2003) 2, pp. 100-101.
[14] Hagdah Shel Pesach, Loshon Limudim , 1905, pp. 65-66.
[15] See Meir Bar Ilan, Alei Sefer 19 (2001), pp. 173-184.
[16] On all this see the excellent work from Dr. Shnayer Leiman, 2004, The Adventure of the Maharal of Prague in London. See also E. Yassif, Ha-golem Me-Prauge U- Massim Niflayim Acharyim, (1991).
[17] See Moriah 14 (1985) n. 3-4, pp. 102- 112; Moriah 16 (1989) n. 9-10, pp. 124- 130. See also Y. Yudolov, Otzar Hagadas, p. 171, #2299; Rabbi Shlomo Fischer, Tzefunot 3 (1989) p. 69.
[18] Kos Chemeshi, Later reprinted in the back of Haggadah Shelimah, pp. 161-177. See also Yosef Tabori, Pesach Dorot, (1996), pp. 325-341; Shmuel & Zev Safrai,Haggadas Chazal, (1998), pp. 40-41.
[19] See Rabbi Yosef Kapach, Ha-Liechos Teiman (1968), pp. 22-23. See also Rabbi Y. Ritzabi, Aggadata Depischa, (1996), pp. 388-390; Moshe Garba, Mechkarim BeSidurei Yeiman 1 (1989), pp. 139-141
[20] See Machzor Roma (1485), p. 73b [in the facsimile edition of this Machzar printed in 2012]. See also Sefer Ha-Tadir, (1992), p. 217.
[21] See the excellent article of Rabbi Y. Avidah in Hatzofeh (1958) which I recently reprinted in his Koso Shel Eliyahu pp. 53-57where he explains why he does not believe that the Gra actually said this idea.
[22] Hagdah Shel Pesach shel Haflah.
[23] See Likutei Tzvi, p. 28; Pineinim MeShulchan Ha-Gra, pp. 112-113; Hamoer Ha-godol, pp. 126-127. See also Rabbi Yeruchem Fishel Perlow in his notes to the Chidushel Dinim Mei-Hilchos Pesach, pp.29-30 who gives this explanation himself. See also A. Hopfer, Ha-Tzofeh Le-chochmas Yisroel, 11 (1927), pp. 211-21; Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Shalmei Moed, p. 404.
[24] This version appears in the beautiful Haggadah Beis Avrhom- Beis Aron (p.117b) where the author heard this from The Belzer Rebbe T"l in the name of the Gra. On all this see Yaakov Speigel, Yeshurun 7 (2000), p. 728-730. See also Shut Ber Sheva, end of siman 73; Rabbi Yosef Zecharia Stern, Mamar Tahaluchos HaAgdot, p. 26.
[25] Rav Nissim Goan, (Abramson) p. 278.
[26] Sefer Ha-Manhig, 2. p. 423-424. See Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisroel, 3, pp. 81-82
[27] For a discussion of the opening of the door see Rabbi Yosef Avidah, Koso Shel Eliyahu, pp. 4-8. See also his work Bershis Be-mlitzah Ha-ivrit, (1938), pp. 40-43. For an early illustration of the opening of the door at Shefoch Chamascha see Therese and Mendel Metzger, Jewish Life in the Middle ages, (1982),p. 380.
[28] For example, in Italy they did not say it. See Machzor Roma (1485); Machzor Moscovitz, (2005), p.29. See Yitzchack Yudolov, Kovetz Mechkarim Al Machzor Ki-Minhag Bnei Roma (2012), pp. 17-18.
[29] See Daniel Goldshmidt, Haggadah Shel Pesach (1960), pp. 62-64; Haggadah Sheilmah, pp. 177-180. See also Yosef Tabori, Mechkarim Betoldos Halacha (forthcoming), pp. 370-389; Shmuel & Zev Safrai,Haggadas Chazal, (1998), pp.174-175.
[30] Yosef Ometz , p. 172, #786.
[31] Mekor Chaim, end of Siman 480.
[32] See Cecil Roth, Arshet 3 (1961, pp. 7-30, especially, pp. 14-1. See also Richard Cohen, Jewish Icons, (1998), pp. 90-100; U. Schubert, Emunos HAsefer HaYehudit (1993); Marc Epstein, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination (2011), especially, pp. 80-84.
[33] Minhaghei Yisroel 4, pp. 168-170.
[34] On this haggadah see Y. Yudolov, Otzar Haggadas, p. 2, # 7-8. See also Rabbi Charles Wengrov, Haggadah and Woodcut, (1967), pp, 69-71; the introduction to the 1965 reprint of this Haggadah; Yosef Yerushalmi, Haggadah and History, plate 13; See also Yosef Tabori, Mechkarim Betoldos Halacha (forthcoming), pp. 461-474.
[35] On this rare Haggadah see Y. Yudolov, Otzar Haggadas, p. 3, # 14.
[36] The Messiah at the Seder—A Fifteenth Century Motif in Jewish Art, pp. 29-38 printed in Sefer Rephael Mahaler (1974). See also his Hebrew manuscript Painting (1978), pp. 98-99. See also the Illustration of the Washington Haggadah 1478 in Betzalel Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated manuscripts, pp. 140-141,34.
[37] Leket Yosher, p. 86.
[38] Koso Shel Eliyahu, pp. 12-13.
[39] Likutei Chaver Ben Chaim, 5 (1883), p. 110 b.
[40] The truth is as previously mentioned originally that was indeed the custom.
[41] Bais Ha-Levi, Parshas Bo, p. 15. The Chasam Sofer says this same idea in his notes to Shulchan Orach, 480.
[42] Rabbi Yosef Zecharia Stern, Zecher Yehosef, p. 39. See also Mishna Zicron (1923), p. 138; Rabbi Tzvi Farber, Kerem Hatzvi, p. 79. See the comments of the Dvar Yehoshuah on this printed in Hagadat Baer Miriam of Rabbi Reven Margolis (2002), p. 91.
[43] Likutei Tzvi, p. 29; Rabbi Shlomo Schick, Siddur Rashban, p. 32; Hagaddas Ha-Malbim (1883), p.50 (editor’s note).
[44] Mikrai Kodesh (Harri), p. 548.
[45] Rabbi Oberlander and Freund (above note 1) incorrectly thought that this comment is from the Chavos Yair.
[46] Minhaghim De-Kehal VerMeizah, (1988), p. 87. Rabbi Gedaliah Oberlander, Minhag Avosenu Beydenu, Rabbi Tuviah Freund, Moadim Li-Simcha, and Pardes Eliezer, all quote this piece of Rabbi Shamash But they did not realize what he was really saying.
[47] Minhaghim De-Kehal VerMeizah, p. 86.
[48] Orchos Hasofer, p. 115.
[49] Or Pnei Yitchak, p. 16.
[50] Elef Kesav, p. 21.
[51] Elef Kesav, p. 72.
[52] Elef Kesav, p. 97.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Few Comments Regarding The First Woodcut Border Accompanying The Prague 1526 Haggadah

A Few Comments Regarding The First Woodcut Border Accompanying The Prague 1526 Haggadah

The Prague 1526 edition of the Haggadah is one of the most important illustrated haggadot ever published.  It is perhaps the earliest printed illustrated haggadah for a Jewish audience and served as a model for many subsequent illustrated haggadot.[1]  The earliest printed haggadah with illustration was published in 1512 in Latin and for a non-Jewish audience. That haggadah contains six woodcuts, and was intended as a response to the infamous anti-Semite Pfefferkorn’s screeds against Judaism.[2] The woodcut accompanying the first page shows three Jews around the seder who have four cups in front of them.  Although the Talmud explicitly states that one is not required to have four distinct cups of wine, presumably the image is a crude method of indicating the four-fold nature of the wine during the seder rather than prescribing custom.

The Prague 1526 edition was published by Gershom and his brother Gronom Katz on Sunday, 26th of Tevet 5287 or December 30, 1526.[3]  This detailed publication information does not appear on the title page, rather it appears at the end of the book and is referred to as a colophon.  The colophon is a manuscript convention that was incorporated into earlier printed books. The Prague 1526 edition does not have a title page at all.  At that time, the usage of the title page was only in its early stages.[4]

I.          The Earliest Hebrew Title Pages

As with non-Hebrew titles, the title page developed over time, both in terms of content as well as usage.[5]   The first Hebrew title page is that of the Sefer Rokeah published in Fano in 1505.[6] But that title page is really one of the more basic forms of the title page, known as a “label title page” providing only the title and author and no other ornamentation or information.[7] In that same year, an edition of Abarbanel’s Zevah Pesach was published in Constantinople.  This edition was the first to contain a border with the title and author, but no place or date of publication.[8]  The first Hebrew book containing all the elements of a traditional title page, border, title, author, place and date is likely the 1511 Pesaro edition of the Talmud published by Soncino.[9]

Traditionally, the Hebrew title page is referred to as a “sha’ar” or gate.  The theory behind this description is that many title page borders are comprised of “gates,” the most common are the pillars that adorn many Hebrew books and are assumed to be those at Saint Peter’s Basillica in Rome.  Their inclusion in Hebrew books is perhaps linked to the (discredited) notion that the Catholic Church maintains certain portions of the Jewish Temple, and these pillars were actually in the Temple.   The first Hebrew book to use an architectural border is Daniel Bomberg’s edition of the Jerusalem Talmud published in 1522.[10]

II.            Illustrations in Hebrew Books

Returning to the Prague 1526 haggadah, as mentioned previously, this edition was copiously illustrated, including the first page of the book.  This is not the first example of Hebrew printed illustrations.  The earliest illustration to appear in a Hebrew book is that of a lulav and a handful of other explanatory images accompanying the Rome edition of the Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot dated to before 1480.[11] 

The first fully illustrated Hebrew book was published in the incunabula period as well, it is Isaac ben Solomon Ibn Sahula’s Meshal ha-Qadmoni, printed in Italy, circa 1491, by Gershom Soncino.[12] 

The border surrounding the first page of the Prague 1526 incorporates both Jewish as well as non-Jewish elements.  First, it is obvious that a Jew had a hand in the border as, in the inset, it displays someone performing bedikat hametz (searching for the bread) where he is using the traditional implements of a candle and chicken feather.  The outside border is less Jewish, and as many have noted, appears to be a copy of Italian/German renaissance borders.  The two most likely candidates for models for Prague are the border first used in the 1518 edition of Sacri Doctoris by Raymond Lulli (available here) or a border first used in 1519 for Paolo Ricci’s, Lepida et litere in Augsburg and reused in an Augsburg 1522 edition of Erasmus, Ad reverendum (available here).  Although we cannot pinpoint exactly which of these, if any, served as a model, what is clear is that among the images included in this border are bare breasted women. 

The use of bare breasted women to illustrate the haggadah is not limited to Prague. Both Charles Wengrov and Elliot Horowitz have pointed to earlier manuscript antecedents for Prague’s usage of such illustrations.[13] Aside from the printed example of the Prague 1526 Haggadah, this convention continued in manuscripts as well illuminated after 1526.  There are at least four such 16th century examples.[14] Additionally, and contrary to Horwitz’s contention that Spanish Jews were less accepting of such displays,[15] the Sarajevo Haggadah, which originated in Spain around 1350, includes two panels of Adam and Eve both depicting a bare-breasted Eve. 

Likewise, the Golden Haggadah, 1320 Spanish manuscript includes the same form of illustration of the Adam and Eve scene.  Additionally, the Golden Haggadah includes images of nude bathers when it depicts Miriam standing from afar to see what will become of baby Moses.[16]

III.            Censorship in Modern Reprints of Prague 1526

            These historical antecedents notwithstanding, recent reprints of Prague 1526 have not been as accepting.  This initial border has been altered to airbrush and remove the bare breasts.   In 1989, a facsimile edition of Prague 1526 was published with the commentary of the Prague rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda Loew (Maharal). This border has been “touched up.”

Similarly, in 1998, a colorized facsimile edition of Prague 1526 was published.  Although the publishers took great pains to provide color where before there was black and white, they also altered this border.

Oddly enough, although they found this image offensive, they decided to reproduce it in two other places in this reprint even though this image only appears once in the original. Here is the original:

Not only is the first border altered, but other instances of bare breasts have been removed; most notably the image accompanying the verse from Ezekiel 16:7 “I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.”

(As discussed previously here a later, Venice 1609, edition also altered this page.)  Again in 2001, a facsimile of Prague 1526 “published by the Religious Council of Efrat in honor of the settlement’s twentieth anniversary . . . . two illustrations are surreptitiously deleted:  the bare breasted woman” accompanying the verse from Ezekiel.[17]  Most recently, in 2009, the airbrushed image of this woman was reproduced in The Schechter Haggadah: art, history; commentary.[18]  

[1]  There may be an earlier illustrated print haggadah, however, only 12 leaves of this haggadah are extant making it difficult to date (or identify the country of origin).  For a bibliography regarding this fragment haggadah see Y. Yudlov, Otzar haHaggadot, Magnes Press, Jerusalem:1997, entry 9; and most recently, Eva Frojmovic, “From Naples to Constantinople: The Aesop Workshop’s Woodcuts in the Oldest Illustration Printed Haggadah,” in The Library, Sixth Series, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, June:1996, pp. 87-109. 
[2]  See R. Cohen, Jewish Icons: Art & Society in Modern Europe, University of California Press, CA:1998, pp. 21-22; see also Y.H. Yerushalmi, Haggadah; History: A Panorama in Facsimile, Philidelphia:1978, plates 6-8.
[3] Aside from the edition discussed herein, there is at least one copy of another haggadah that is also published by Cohen in Prague that same year.  While both versions are substantially similar, some of the images and borders have been changed.  Relevant for our purposes, is that the image accompanying “Sefokh” which is a full page border with images of bare breasted women, has been replaced with a more innocuous border found elsewhere in the haggadah.  See Yudlov, Otzar, entry 8; A. Ya’ari, Bibliography of the Passover Haggadah, Bamberg & Wahrman, Jerusalem:1960, entry 7; Rabbi Charles Wengrov, Haggadah & Woodcut: an Introduction to the Passover Haggadah Completed by Gershom Cohen in Prague, Shulsinger Bros., New York:1967, pp. 78-9. 
[4]  The first Prague imprint to include a separate title page is in a 1526 edition of Yotzrot published by Cohen.  See Wengrov, Haggadah & Woodcut, p. 82 n.238. 
[5] Although, with regard to the adoption of the title page, Jews appear to adopt this convention at or near the time as society at large, that was not the case with other literary advances.  While the majority of the western world adopted the codex and discarded the scroll some time in the third century, the first recorded Jewish reference to the codex does not occur until the late eighth or the early ninth centuries.  See Anthony Grafton, "From Roll to Codex: A Christian Initiative," in Crossing Borders, Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures, ed. Piet van Boxel & Sabine Arndt, Bodleian Library:2012, pp. 15-20. 
[6] A.M. Habermann, Title Pages of Hebrew Books, Museum of Printing Art, Safed:1969, pp. 8-9. 
[7]  For a discussion of the development of the title page as well as the different types, i.e., label, border, end-title, see M.M. Smith, The Title-Page its early development 1460-1510, The British Library & Oak Knoll Press, London & Deleware:2000. 
[8] See M.J. Heller, The Sixteenth Century Hebrew Book: An Abridged Thesaurus, Brill, Leiden & Boston:2004, vol. I, pp. 6-7. 
[9] The border used for the Pesaro Talmuds first appeared in Decachordum Christianum (The Christian Ten String Harpsichord) published in Fano, 1507 by Gershom Soncino.  See M.J. Heller, Printing the Talmud, pp. 104-117  Additionally, see Heller's discussion, id. p. 113, regarding Soncino's reuse of the Dechachaordum's frames.  In reality, although the frames were originally cut for Decachordum, they were first used on Gershom's edition of Bahya ibn Pakua's commentary on the Torah, published four months prior to Decachordum
See M.J. Heller, The Sixteenth Century Hebrew Book: An Abridged Thesaurus, Brill, Leiden & Boston:2004, vol. I, p. 41; Smith, The Title-Page, supra, pp. 47-59 (discussing the use of the blank title page). 
[10]  See A.M. Habermann, “The Jewish Art of the Printed Book,” in Jewish Art, An Illustrated History, ed. Cecil Roth [revised ed. by B. Narkiss], New York Graphic Society Ltd., Connecticut:1971, pp. 167-68.  In Habermann’s earlier work, Title Pages of Hebrew Books, p. 9, he erroneously asserts that the earliest works to include architectural title pages were Soncino’s Melitza le-Maskil and Bomberg’s Tanach, both published in 1524/25. 
[11]  See Joshua Bloch, “The Library’s Roman Hebrew Incunabula,” in Hebrew Printing & Bibliography, ed. Charles Berlin, New York:1976, p. 140.  For a description of this work see S. Iakerson, Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seimary of America, JTS, New York & Jerusalem:2005, entry 7. 
[12] See A.M. Habermann, “The Jewish Art of the Printed Book,” supra, at 169.  Habermann appears to argue that this is first printed Hebrew book containing illustrations, is incorrect. As discussed above, the first was the Rome edition of Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot. He is not alone in this error.  Ursula Schubert makes the same error.  See Ursula Schubert, Jewish Book Art, From the Renaissance until Emancipation, [Hebrew], Kibbutz hami-Uchad, Tel Aviv:1994, p. 27. 
Habermann, id., notes that the great Hebrew bibliographer, Mortiz Steinschneider, was tricked with regard to one of the illustrations contained in Meshal ha-Qadmoni.  Steinschneider, in a discussion about the alleged Christian origins of these illustrations, called attention to the fact that in one of them contains a monk wearing a crucifix. But, in the interim we have learned “that this last embellishment was a practical joke played by a Christian scholar. . . [the crucifix] having been added by [a later] hand!”  Regarding the history and origins of the images included in Meshal ha-Qadmoni, see César Merchán-Hamann, “Fables from East to West,” in Crossing Borders, pp. 35-44; Ursula Schubert, Jewish Book Art, pp. 27-8. 
[13]  Rabbi Charles Wengrov, Haggadah & Woodcut, p. 47 nn.112-13; Elliot Horowitz, “Between Cleanliness and Godliness,” in Tov Elem: Memory, Community & Gender in Medieval & Early Modern Jewish Societies, ed. E. Baumgarten, et al., Bialik Institute, Jerusalem:2011, *38-*39. 
[14] Mendel Metzger, La Haggada Enluminée, E.J. Brill:1973, plate LIV, nos. 303-305; Chantily Haggadah, Musée Condé, Ms. 732, fol. 13, reproduced in Index of Jewish Art, eds. B. Narkiss & G. Sed-Rajna, Jerusalem-Paris:1976, vol. I, card no. 36.
[15]  Horowitz, “Between Cleanliness,” at *38, (“One suspects that a Spanish Jew coming to Germany in the early 15th century would have been equally surprised to see an image of a naked woman” in a Hebrew manuscript.).  
[16]  The Golden Haggadah, ed. Bezalel Narkiss, Pomegranate Artbooks, California:1997, figs. 17 & 24.
[17]  Id. n.37.  Horowitz only notes the 2001 example of censorship of Prague 1526, and apparently is unaware of the earlier examples.  Additionally, he chastises the Efrat reproduction for erroneously indicating a 1527 publication date.  Efrat is not only in erring regarding the secular date.  The first facsimile edition (Berlin:1925), which includes a scholarly introduction, full title is:  “Die Pessach Haggadah Des Gerschom Kohen Gedruckt Zu Prag 5287/1527.” Perhaps one can excuse the error as, in reality, it was completed on the eve of 1527, December 30, 1526.
[18] The Schechter Haggadah: Art, History & Commentary, [illustrations selected and annotated by David Golinkin], Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem:2009, p. 36, fig. 16.1.  

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