Manuscripts in the Judaica Collection

Cod_heb_32_9b_10a
The National Library holds app. 400 manuscripts written in Hebrew script in its collections, the majority in Hebrew, but also Yiddish, Judaeo-Arabic, Judao-Persian etc. are represented. With few exceptions (app. ten manuscripts belonging to the Manuscript Department), they all form part of the Judaica Collection. The manuscripts have in many cases been received as testamentory gifts throughout the centuries, as well as acquired from collections in Denmark and abroad, e.g. the ten volumes acquired by Frederik Christian von Haven in connection with " The Arabian Journey", and the app. 200  items from David Simonsen's collection. The oldest manuscript in the collection is probably a Geniza fragment in Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written ín Hebrew script), dated at app. 1100 CE.

A majority of the manuscripts contain different religious texts (Biblical texts and commentaries, halakhic texts, liturgy etc.). Many are illuminated, and in not a few instances, the artistic values exceed by far the contents of the text as a focus for scholars and students. As an example can be mentionend the most famous of The Royal Library's Hebrew manuscripts, the so-called "Copenhagen Maimonides". This manuscript, Maimonides' (Moshe ben Maimon, c. 1135-1204) philosophical work Moreh Nevukhim (Guide for the Perplexed, shelfmark Cod. Heb. 37), was written and illuminated in Catalonia in 1347/48. It is available as a digital facsimile, with a short introduction (incl. a bibliography etc.). Another digital facsimile is Cod. Heb. 32 (a prayer book from Bohemia, 1728). which also is accompanied by a short Introduction.
 
In addition has the collection of manuscripts acquired from David Simonsen, including the letter for the Cairo Genizah mentioned above, been made available as digital facsimile editions.

No complete catalogue covering the collection has been published to date, but  most of the manuscripts are described in the database maintained by the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at The Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem (for an overview, type "COPEN" in the search field "Custodian Call no."). The first printed catalogue, Codices Orientales Bibliothecæ Regiæ Havniensis (ed. Westergaard & Mehren, 1846-1857) is available as PDF-files; Hebrew manuscripts are described in vol. 2, pp. 1-31 and vol. 3, pp. 83.

See also: Publications on The Royal Library's Jewish manuscripts (selection)

Availablity

The manuscripts can only be used at Reading Room West, after having been ordered on special forms available in the different reading rooms, or by previous arrangement (kontaktbiblioteket@kb.dk). Registration as a user is required, as well as holidng a Reading Room ID card; the application form can be downloaded here and should be brought in printed form, together with a valid passport (or national photo ID), for the first visit.

Copies, photographs etc.

Requests for slides, scans and other types of reproductions should be directed to The Photographic Studio. Permission to reproduce is normally given, provided that it is for a non-commercial purpose, and that The Royal Library is duly credited.

Deposited collections

The Royal Library also acts as custodians of manuscripts belonging to the Jewish Community of Copenhagen, including the so-called Copenhagen Haggadah. Requests for permission to reproduce these manuscripts should be directed to the Jewish Community.