Aviva Ben-Ur’s “Kabbalistic Pharmacopeia” // JQR

posted June 8, 2015

In the current issue of JQR (105.2, a special issue on the transposition of Sepharad and Ashkenaz to the Americas), Aviva Ben-Ur examines a rare manuscript recently acquired by the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center. A combination of recipes for medical and other practical purposes, along with magical prescriptions belonging to the genre known as sifre segulot, it contains notes in a multitude of languages and reflects, in Ben-Ur’s words, “the major transitions that characterize the Atlantic Jewish era.” It is a remarkable document, and only a scholar with Ben-Ur’s range of linguistic, paleographic, and historical acumen could have plumbed its riches.

To highlight JQR’s emphasis on the scholarly “note”—a short essay gleaning trenchant insights from a small detail or recent find that stands out in a crowded research file—we offer Ben-Ur’s piece as a free download here.