A Book Safe from Censorship in England
Pencil marks and marginalia visible, from: Moses ben Jacob of Coucy (first half of 13th century), Sepher Mitzvot Gadol (Great Book of Commandments), Venice, Daniel Bomberg: 1522
In 1240 in Paris, Moses of Coucy was one of four rabbis called to publically defend the Talmud, and he wrote Sepher Mitzvot Gadol which defends Jewish law. However, the debate led to the confiscation and burning of all Talmud manuscripts in 1242.
The Catholic Church listed the Talmud and many other Jewish books on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1559, which led to the loss of many books. Those books that survived destruction would be censored.
This copy of Sepher Mitzvot Gadol escaped censorship because it was in Protestant England. Here on display, you can see censored passages are noted in pencil. Several other Jewish books in Queens’ Library are pencilled at controversial passages in this same way, including the Nahmanides book on display in this case.
This book was owned by a Queens’ student John Morris (1670-1768), who donated many Jewish books to the Library.