1. Manuscripts and Printed Editions of Sefer Hasidim
2. Recensions of Sefer Hasidim
3. How to Use the Database

1. Manuscripts and Printed Editions of Sefer Hasidim

The database includes fourteen manuscripts containing different versions of Sefer Hasidim and its fragments (listed in alphabetical order):

Ambrosiana X 111 (DS II 1; 119.5) (Ashkenaz, 13th c.)

Catalogues: 1933. Bernheimer, C. ed. Codices hebraici Bybliothecae ambrosianae. No.119/5. Florence.

The codex, consisting of 288 folios, was written by three scribes. The first wrote in Ashkenazic Gothic and copied Sefer ‘Amude Golah by Isaac b. Joseph of Corbeil and Sefer Teshuvot by Eleazar b. Judah of Worms on folios 1r-161v. The same scribe also wrote works included in the last section of the manuscript, folios 206r-288v, namely, extracts from Sefer Yir'ah by Jonah b. Abraham Gerondi, and Hilkhot Shabbat by Samson (or Samuel) b. Zadok. The middle part of the codex was written in a different hand, Ashkenazic semi-cursive. This part (ff. 166v-205v) contains Sefer Hasidim and Divre Tobi b. Tobiel (ff. 201v-205v). The third scribe wrote some halakhic instructions on folios 162r-165r and 222v-224r, attached to their current place after the rest of the manuscript was completed. On folio 11r-v, one of the owners quoted excerpts from the Ṣawa'ah of Judah he-Hasid. The manuscript was not originally foliated.

The scribe presented Sefer Hasidim in two pre-ruled columns of 27 lines and divided the text into a few lengthy sections beginning with words in capital Gothic letters (ff. 166v, 180r, 187r). The subtitle, Hilkhot Teshuvah, is written in bigger characters on folio 177v. The bottom of folio 189v shows a scribe's mark – the letters להקב''ה in a hexagonal ornamented frame. The book concludes with זה ספר נקרא ספר חסידים .

Bodleian Library Opp. Add. 34 (Ashkenaz, 14th-15th cc.)

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. 1994. Beit-Arié, M. and R.A. May eds. Idem. Vol. 2. No. 641/4. Oxford .

This fragment of Sefer Hasidim occupies folios 43v-57r of the vellum manuscript consisting of 247 folios, which also contains some “medical recipes,” Seder ha-Milah by Gershom b. Jacob, and responsa by Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg. Sefer Hasidim is written in Ashkenazic cursive and is presented in two columns of roughly equal size for the major part of the document. Columns of 50-65 lines are not pre-ruled. The lower corner of folios 50, 53, and 54 have cut off before the text was written. Sefer Hasidim, as well as other works in the codex, contains numerous marginal glosses, added by another hand. Indentations separate the text into sections. Later, one of the owners assigned Hebrew numerals to these sections, now running from 1 to 174, and then breaking off (f. 57v).

Bodleian Library Opp. 487 (Rhineland, 1677)

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. 1994. Beit-Arié, M. and R.A. May eds. Idem. Vol. 2. No. 1943. Oxford.

The paper manuscript presents a short selection from Sefer Hasidim, occupying only two folios (93v-94r) in a collection of Cabbalistic treatises. This selection contains three numbered paragraphs (204-206) and is written in one column, in Ashkenazic cursive.

Bodleian Library Opp. 614 (Rhineland, 1329-30)

Previous editions: 2006. Soloveitchik, H. “Appendix to Pietists and Kibbitzers.” JQR 96/1: 3-5.

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. 1994. Beit-Arié, M. and R.A. May eds. Idem. Vol. 2. No. 2275/3. Oxford.

The selection from Sefer Hasidim starts on folio 30r and concludes on folio 31v of the vellum manuscript that also contains other short treatises, including the anonymous Hilkhot Shabbat, and extracts from works by Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, Eliezer b. Yoel, and Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg. These works were copied by two or three scribes in Ashkenazic semi-cursive script. The title, ליקוטין מספר חסידים , is written in square characters. The text is neither numbered nor paragraphed. However, the scribe used two short strokes with a subsequent indentation to separate the text into sections. On folio 30v, there is another title, גם זה מספר חסידים , written in semi-cursive characters with supra-linear ornament. The manuscript was bound together with three other manuscripts, all dated to the fourteenth century.

Bodleian Library Or. 146 ( Rhineland, 1342)

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. 1994. Beit-Arié, M. and R.A. May eds. Idem. Vol. 2. No. 782. Oxford .

A three-folio extract (ff. 69r-70r) from Sefer Hasidim concludes this vellum manuscript, following Sefer ha-Parnas by Moses Parnas of Rothenburg and a list of the Torah readings and prayer recitations for the entire year. The text is written in fine Ashkenazic semi-cursive script in two columns of equal width, ruled with pencil into 27 lines.

The text is identical to Bodl. Lib. Opp. 614 not only in content, but also in appearance: it has two titles (one written in big square letters, another decorated with an ornament) and contains no paragraph numbers.

Bodleian Library Opp. 340 (France, 1299)

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. 1994. Beit-Arié, M. and R.A. May eds. Idem. Vol. 2. No. 875/3. Oxford .

Written in Ashkenazic cursive on vellum, Sefer Hasidim (ff. 131r-151r) is the last authored work in this manuscript. It follows Sefer ‘Amude Golah with annotations by Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil (ff. 1-124), and Sefer Yir'ah by Jonah b. Abraham Gerondi (ff. 125-130). Selections of liturgies and documentary texts close the codex (ff. 151v-161v). The manuscript was not foliated originally.

The text is written in two equal columns of 39 lines, ruled in pencil. It starts with a title written in bold capital letters with a dotted supra-linear ornament, וזה ספר החסידות , and concludes with סיימתי ספר החסידות . The text is divided into unnumbered paragraphs that begin with square capital letters. Folio 149r contains a marginal note added by the same hand that wrote the body of the text: כך שמעתי מפי מרינו הרר' יעקב לפפא.

Boesky 45 (Italy, 14th-15th c.)

This version of Sefer Hasidim is written on vellum in Ashkenazic semi-cursive script, in brown ink. The manuscript holds 207 folios in gatherings of 16, foliated by a modern hand. Sefer Hasidim begins on folio 2r and ends on folio 207r. The manuscript has no lacunae, but the ink is faded on many folios, especially after folio 171v.

The text is written in one column of 28-36 lines, ruled in pencil. The sections, although not paragraphed, are separated by indentations and continuous numeration from 1 to 826, written on margins by the same hand that wrote the body of the text. The first words in these sections are written in capital letters. Dark red supra-linear strokes or a floral ornament are also embedded in the text to signify unnumbered subsections. No punctuation is used. The manuscript is censored: words referring to Christian clergy, such as כומר and גלח are usually erased.

Bologna printed edition 1538

In the year 1538, the publishing company “Partners in the Silk Trade” issued the first printed edition of Sefer Hasidim. It was followed by a second publication in 1580, with different paragraphing and numeration of its 1178 sections, many of which were now shortened and bereft of its French and German glosses. Whereas this second printed version of Sefer Hasidim was edited by Reuven Margaliot ( Jerusalem 1957), our database presents the original print of 1538. Among many available copies of this edition, we have chosen a copy from the Jerusalem National and University Library.

Cambridge Add. 379.2 (Ashkenaz, 13 th -14 th cc.)

Catalogues: 1997. Hebrew manuscripts at Cambridge University Library. Cambridge .

The version of Sefer Hasidim presented in this manuscript begins with the words זה נקרא ספר יראים חסידים and occupies folios 1v-74r in a vellum codex of 88 folios, with many creases and stains (especially on folios 21v, 37r, and 42v). The text is written in Ashkenazic cursive in two columns of 36-40 lines each, ruled in pencil, and of equal width. Sefer Hasidim is divided into 579 sections and numbered in the margins by the same hand that wrote the body text. Occasionally, the scribe marked the beginning of a new section by writing its first word in capital letters. On folio 74r, the final section of Sefer Hasidim is written in the form of a sand clock.

In addition to Sefer Hasidim, the codex contains Hayye ‘Olam (Sefer Yir'ah, ff. 74r-79v) by Jonah b. Abraham Gerondi, divided into 579 (!) sections, but mistakenly numbered as 580. Thereafter follows a poem by Samuel ha-Kohen in praise of the previous two works. Folios 80r-88v contain qinot (elegies) for martyrs of Frankfurt am Main in 1241 and of Blois in 1171. Then follows a table of contents for Sefer Hasidim (ff. 84v-88v) and a piyut (f. 88v). Folio 88v also contains signatures of the owner, Isaac Porto (1610), and of the censor, Clemente Renatto. Shir ha-Kavod on folio 1r, in Italian hand, was apparently added after the bulk of the manuscript.

At some point, the codex described above was bound together with another one (Add. 379.1), containing a prayer-book and Ibn Gabirol's Keter Malkhut.

The concluding remark reads: ותשלם מלאכת ספר החסידים אשר נלקט etc.

Frankfurt Ms. hebr. oct. 94

Catalogues: Catalogue d’une precieuse collection hebraique ... en vente chez Julius Benzian, Berlin 1869, no. 13. E. Roth and L. Prijs, Hebraeische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1982-1993, no. 98.

Titled Liqqutim mi-sefer hasidim, this is a selection of 43 paragraphs from both the Parma and Bologna recensions. Starting from paragraph 33, this Frankfurt manuscript corresponds to another selection from Parma: Bodl. Lib. Opp. 614 (par. 1-18). Paragraphs 42, 44, 45, 47-49 have no parallels in any other manuscript.

Written in Ashkenazi semi-cursive; 33 lines to a page; double frame ruled in lead point, lines ruled in plummet; foliated in Roman numerals. One hand and ruling style throughout the codex. Sefer Hasidim occupies ff. 270r-272r. Bold or separated initials mark the beginning of chapters.

The codex contains other ethical, legal and historical works: Sefer ha-Maharil by Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin (ff. 1r-213r), Gilgul Bene Hushim by Zalman of Sankt-Goar (ff. 213r-216r), Tsawwa’at R. Eli’ezer ben Shemu’el (ff. 237r-239v), Tsawwa’at R. Yehudah he-Hasid (ff. 239v-241r), and excerpts from halakhot.

(Universitätsbibliothek) Freiburg 483 (Ashkenaz, 14th–15th cc.)

Only two folios (1r-2v) of the manuscript are preserved, which in the original condition was likely identical to the Parma version: although the text is not paragraphed, its preserved part runs in the same order as the respective paragraphs in MS Parma. It was written in Ashkenazic cursive, in two columns of irregular shape. The first folio was torn through the center vertically; as a result, only one column on each side is preserved.

JTS 2499 (Italy, 15th–16th c.)

This version of Sefer Hasidim is written on vellum in Italian semi-cursive hand. The beginning of the codex, which also contained a portion of Sefer Hasidim, was lost; after that, the surviving part of the codex was foliated in Arabic numerals running from 1 to 84. In addition to the fragment of Sefer Hasidim, which concludes on folio 29r, the manuscript also contains a responsum of Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg concerning עניין זווגין , and other halakhic writings. The text is written in one pre-ruled column and is divided into unnumbered paragraphs. The concluding words in each paragraph are allocated to the center of the folio. A catchword with an ornament of a dotted triangle is visible on the bottom of folio 29v. Two short strokes at the end of each paragraph is the only punctuation used.

Moscow 103

Moscow 103 (ff. 100r-124v) is dated to the 15th century and contains the first 152 paragraphs of the Bologna edition, with the exception of paragraph 113. As well as Ms. Nimes Bibl. mun. Séguier 26, this manuscript predates the printed edition of the Bologna recension. The manuscript is written in Ashkenazi cursive script; frame pricked in hard point, lines ruled in plummet, foliated 100-124 in Roman numerals by a modern hand. A few folios are stained; folio 108 is torn preserving only a part of paragraphs 20 and 21.

Sefer Hasidim is presented as a complete book starting with zeh sefer hasidim and ending seleq after paragraph 152. The text is written in two chapters without decorated initials or paragraph numbers, and with only two rubrics: one on f. 100r (zeh sefer hasidim) and another one on folio 108r (hilkhot teshuvah). The same scribe who copied Sefer Hasidim also copied Moreh hatta’im (starting on f. 125r) by “Eleazar min Germaniya,” as written in the manuscript, possibly testifying to its Slavic origin (Eleazar ben Judah of Worms).

Nimes Bibl. mun. Séguier 26

Catalogue: J. Simon, “Manuscrits Hebreux de la Bibliotheque de la Ville de Nimes,” REJ 3 (1881), pp. 225-237.

Probably the earliest preserved copy of Sefer Hasidim, dated on paleographical graunds to the 13th century; written in Ashkenazi semi-cursive script in three columns. Pricking in hard point; lines ruled in plummet, foliated 156-175 in Roman numerals by a modern hand. Sefer Hasidim is subdivided by many minor and two major rubrics: zeh niqra (sefer ha-hasidim) (f. 155v) and hilkhot (teshuvah) (f. 164r). The text breaks off in the middle of paragraph 62. Then follows one folio with the table of contents of another book, which ends the codex.

Sefer Hasidim is the third book in a collection of ethical treatises copied by one scribe and bound in one codex. It also contains Sefer mitswot qatan / SMaQ (“Small Book of Commandments”) attributed to Isaac ben Joseph de Corbei. This manuscript contains glosses by Rabbi Perets’ disciples. The second treatise in the codex is Seder tefillot (“Order of prayers”), also called Mahkim, by Nathan ben Judah.

Oxford Mich. 155 (Spain, 15th c.)

Catalogues: 1886 (repr. 1994). Neubauer, A. ed. Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Vol. 1. No. 1984. Oxford .

Sefer Hasidim occupies the final 16 folios of this vellum manuscript (ff. 279r-285v, not foliated originally) and was apparently copied after the bulk of the text therein. The poems of Joseph b. Shemtov, dedicated to the people of Aragon, are the only dated works in the collection (year 1349). The remaining material, including poems, letters and responsa of Solomon b. Reuven Bonfed and Don Vidal Benveniste, was produced in a later period. Three hands can be distinguished: one wrote the poems of Joseph b. Shemtov, another one copied the works of Bonfed and Benveniste, and the latest, in Sefartic semi-cursive, copied Sefer Hasidim, presenting the text in one column divided into unnumbered subsections. The last preserved folio (285v) contains a catchword at its bottom, indicating that folio 285 is only the last one in this gathering, and Sefer Hasidim would have continued had it been preserved.

Parma H 3280 (Ashkenaz, c. 1300)

Previous editions: 1924. Wistinetzki, J. and J. Freiman eds. Sefer Hasidim. Frankfurt am Main (2 nd ed. including an introduction by Freiman and an index for the Parma-Bologna MSS; 1 st ed.: 1891. Wistinetzki, J. ed. Berlin ); 1955-1964. Price, A. ed. Sefer Hasidim. Toronto .

Published facsimile of the manuscript: 1985. Marcus, I. Sefer ha-Hasidim, k. y. Parmah H 3280 (with an introduction followed by an index of cross-references in Parma and Bologna MSS). Jerusalem .

Partial translations: 1988. Gourevitch, E. Le Guide des Hasidim. Paris . 1998. Borchers, S. Jüdisches Frauenleben im Mittelalter: die Texte des Sefer Chasidim. Frankfurt am Main .

Catalogs and Bibliography: 1985. Hebrew MSS from the Palatine. No. 41. Jerusalem . 2001. Reichler, B. ed. Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bibliotheca Palatina in Parma. Jerusalem .

The text is written in Ashkenazic semi-cursive hand on a very smooth parchment. The preservation is perfect: the manuscript contains no lacunae, and the whole text is clearly visible. The codex contains 184 folios, and is built up of 23 gatherings of four bi-folios each. The text of Sefer Hasidim starts on folio 2r and continues until folio 184r. Folio 1r-v contains another text written in a different hand. The text of folios 2r-178v (paragraphs 1-1960) is written in two columns of equal size, most of them regularly pre-ruled with pencil into forty lines. Beginning with folio 178v and starting in the middle of paragraph 1960, the text continues in one wide column. The manuscript is foliated in Hebrew letters.

The text is separated into 1999 paragraphs, each beginning with a word written in capital letters. The paragraphs, however, are defectively numbered so that it appears that there are only 1983 paragraphs. This numeration is written in a different hand, similar to the script on folio 1r-v, probably Italian of the 15 th century. Subtitles and postscripts are also written in capital square characters.

The hand of the scribe, of superior accuracy at the beginning, soon becomes more cursive and sometimes degenerates into barely readable passages, mostly due to the blunt quill. The punctuation of the text includes a short stroke, two short strokes and a colon, all used inconsistently. The usual way of correcting mistakes throughout the manuscript is by crossing them out and adding corrections above the line or in the margins. Beginning with folio 178r on (paragraph 1950) the scribe starts ascribing Hebrew letters א , ב, ג to words or phrases misplaced in a sentence.

A feature of note is the presence of scores of gaps, some just a word or two, others of several lines. There are several possibilities why the scribe has inserted them: there might have been similar gaps in his source, he might not have been able to read his Vorlage at a particular place, or because he wanted to separate multiple sources from which he copied.

In addition to Hebrew numbers and corrections, the text in the margins contains a gloss from 'Or Zaru‘a by Moses b. Isaac of Vienna (f. 49r-v, paragraph 627). Beginning with paragraph 1427 (f. 130v), the scribe starts writing supplementary rubrics of the kind

גם זה/גם כן כתוב .

Vatican 285 20-21 (?), 30 (Italy, 15th -16th cc.)

Previous editions: 1964. Hershler, M. Genuzoth. Vol. 1: 125-162. Jerusalem.

Catalogs: 2008. Richler, B., Beit-Arie, M. and N. Pasternak eds. Hebrew Manuscripts in the Vatican Library. City of Vatican.

The text is written on a parchment codex in Byzantine semi-cursive hand. The manuscript consists of 152 folios, each showing 24-31 irregular lines of varying length. Sefer Hasidim appears on folios 108v-127v and 150r-152r, separated by a responsum of Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg (ff. 127v-129r), halakhic and esoteric writings. The text on folios 112r-127v is almost identical with the Sefer Hasidim of JTS 2499, while folios 108v-112r obviously contain a part that the JTS manuscript has not preserved, or has never included. Like JTS 2499, the Vatican manuscript is also written in one column and is divided into sections by means of colons, indentations, and, for the major part, paragraphing. Many folios are stained with ink. Dotted triangles are used to mark secondary titles and scribal errors that were supplemented or replaced by corrections in margins. Folio 109v remains blank, containing only a note telling the reader that the scribe skipped the folio. All versos include catchwords corresponding to the first word on the rectos.

(Zentralbibliothek) Zurich Heidenheim 51 (Byzantine, 14th-15th cc.)

Previous editions: 2006. Soloveitchik, H. “Appendix to Pietists and Kibbitzers.” JQR 96/1: 6-11.

The manuscript contains four folios of excerpts from Sefer Hasidim, written in Italian cursive, in one column, not ruled and not divided into paragraphs. Indentations separate the text into sentences and/or sections. The text concludes: ליקוטים מן הספר החסידים סיימתי .

(Zentralbibliothek) Zurich D 74

Catalogue: G. Ernst and L. Forrer, Katalog der Handschriften der Zentralbibliothek Zürich II, Neuere Handschriften seit 1500, Zurich 1982, p. 407.

Two folios of Sefer Hasidim are reused in cardboard binding for a collection of sermons and admonitions by the novice master of the monastery of St. Gall, Anton Widenmann, to his “junior brothers.” This compilation is dated 1633 and probably bound by Chrysostomus Stipplin (1609-1672).

42 lines to a page; copied as a continuous text without initials or rubrics in Ashkenazi semi-cursive script.

The manuscript is a fragment of the Parma recension, fully corresponding to its paragraphs 331-338 (f. 1) and 394-397 (f. 2).

2. Recensions of Sefer Hasidim

Sefer Hasidim was not handed down to us as a uniform treatise whose copies have identical structure and wording. All manuscripts included in our database are identified as belonging to Sefer Hasidim because they contain sections identical or closely related to one of the two larger and principal versions of Sefer Hasidim – the Bologna printed edition and the Parma manuscript. The order of these sections, however, varies from manuscript to manuscript; moreover, some of them are shortened, whereas others are expanded on account of quotations from the Tanakh or the Gemara, as well as because of presumably scribal elucidations in French and German.

MS Parma H 3280 and the Bologna printed edition of 1538 include almost all the text of the other seventeen manuscripts plus many other sections that can be found only in MS Parma and the Bologna print. Consequently, these seventeen manuscripts may conditionally be considered as belonging to three groups (Parma, Bologna, and mixed) based on several factors: the presence of sections from one of the seventeen manuscripts in either the Bologna edition or the MS Parma, phraseological similarity, and the sequence in which sections or topics run. Those manuscripts that contain material not included in the MS Parma or the Bologna printed edition are attributed to the mixed group.

  1. The Parma group:
    MS Parma H 3280
    MS Boesky 45
    MS UB Freiburg 483
    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 614
    MS Bodl. Lib. Or. 146
    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 487
    MS ZB Zurich D 74

    MS Boesky 45 is the third largest manuscript in our collection, containing not only the major part of the Parma edition but also presenting the text in the same order. It is divided into 826 sections, some of which coincide with the beginning of the paragraphs in MS Parma. Sometimes, however, big clusters of paragraphs present in Parma are absent in Boesky (sections 364-383; 1235-1260, 1630-1665, 1875-1901), while some passages of MS Boesky are not included in the Parma edition, such as the major part of sections 117, 141, 411, and the whole last section, 826. Unfortunately, the ink of sections 826 and 592 faded away, rendering them impossible to transcribe.

    It seems that MS UB Freiburg 483 also presents the same version as the MSS Parma and Boesky. In this short fragment, the text not only runs in the same order as in MS Parma, but is also almost literary identical with it. For this reason, although the Freiburg fragment is not paragraphed by the scribe, we took the liberty of dividing it into paragraphs and numbering them in accordance with MS Parma.

    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 614 and MS Bodl. Lib. Or. 146 contain two identical compendia of Sefer Hasidim. Their paragraphs appear in various parts of the Parma edition (from paragraph 211 to paragraph 1152) yet in a totally different order of sequence. The phrasing also differs considerably, which would have placed these manuscripts in the “mixed” group (see below), if it were not for a few paragraphs that can only be found in MS Parma.

    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 487 contains three numbered paragraphs from Sefer Hasidim (204, 205, 206) fully corresponding to MS Parma, paragraphs 210, 211, 212.

  2. Bologna group:

    Bologna printed edition of 1538
    MS Ambrosiana X 111
    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 340
    MS Bodl. Lib. Mich. 155
    MS Moscow 103
    MS Nimes Bibl. mun. Séguier 26

    A specific feature of this group consists in the fact that all three manuscripts contain a part of the first 152 paragraphs of the Bologna printed edition.

    MS Ambrosiana X 111 presents nearly the same version of Sefer Hasidim as paragraphs 1-152 of the Bologna print; the manuscript, however, is not paragraphed. Therefore, in order to facilitate the comparison, we divided the text of the manuscript into paragraphs and assigned numbers to them in accordance with the first 152 paragraphs of the Bologna edition.

    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 340 was divided by the scribe into 63 paragraphs, which we numbered according to their order of sequence. This manuscript also contains the text of the first 152 Bologna paragraphs except for paragraphs 103-116, which literally dropped out: in the middle of the MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. 340, paragraph 47, a sentence corresponding to the one from paragraph 102 of the Bologna edition breaks off and jumps to the beginning of Bologna, paragraph 117.

    MS Bodl. Lib. Mich. 155 is also sectioned by the scribe and numbered by us. It contains paragraphs 1-16 of the Bologna print.

  3. The “Mixed group” includes manuscripts that either partially follow the pattern of Bologna and partially of Parma, or exhibit their own individual structure and wording which cannot be tracked down to any of the two groups above:

    MS JTS 2499
    MS Vatican 285
    MS Cambridge Add 379
    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. Add. 34
    MS Frankfurt Ms. hebr. oct. 94
    MS ZB Zurich Heid. 51

    MS JTS 2499 contains a fragment of Sefer Hasidim that is identical to sections 10-146 of MS Vatican, in accordance with which MS JTS was paragraphed and numbered.

    MS Vatican 285 contains a version of Sefer Hasidim presented in two parts: the first includes sections 1-147, and the second includes sections 148-184. Whereas the first part exhibits a unique arrangement of sections and frequently a wording of its own, the second part clearly belongs to the Bologna group, since its 29 sections (150-179) appear as a selection from paragraphs 22-113 of the Bologna edition. However, some of the Vatican sections in both parts have parallels only in the Parma manuscript.

    MS Cambridge Add. 379 combines both the Parma and the Bologna versions. MS Cambridge, paragraphs 1-413 closely follows paragraphs 1-410 of the Bologna printed edition, inasmuch as not only the paragraphing but also the numeration of both versions appears identical for some parts (e.g., paragraphs 160-220). Paragraph 414, however, jumps over to MS Parma paragraph 1310, unparalleled in the Bologna print, and then continues through paragraphs 1310-1983 of the Parma version, skipping most of them but keeping their sequential arrangement. The two last Cambridge paragraphs, 578 and 579, show no parallel in MS Parma either. They only correspond to the last section, 826, in MS Boesky.

    MS Bodl. Lib. Opp. Add. 34 presents another combination of MS Parma and the Bologna printed edition. Paragraphs 1-146 of this manuscript contain selections from the Bologna print, paragraphs 9-401, while paragraphs 147-173 contain extracts from paragraphs 1330-1950 of MS Parma.

    The major part of MS ZB Zurich Heid. 51 is unparalleled in either the Bologna or the Parma edition. The first folio of this manuscript, however, contains passages, numbered by us as sections 1-8, which are identical or closely related to eight paragraphs in the Parma manuscript, scattered without any noticeable order from paragraph 150 to paragraph 1169 (1169, 136, 574, 1154, 1503, 1049, 150, 151).

3. How to Use the Database

Copying the Sefer Hasidim manuscripts, we tried to present the text as closely as possible to its appearance in the manuscript. For this reason, our database does not propose any emendations of numerous scribal errors in the original text. We also preserved the original line breaks of the text. However, we considered it useful to introduce the numeration of paragraphs in those manuscripts where the scribe himself did not assign numerals to the respective paragraphs of Sefer Hasidim (namely, in MSS ZB Zurich Heid. 51, Vatican 285, JTS 2499, Bodl. Lib. Mich. 155, Ambrosiana X 111, Bodl. Lib. Opp. 614, Bodl. Lib. Or. 146, and UB Freiburg 483 ). This addition of ours was not only necessary for an electronic edition, it also greatly facilitates the “search” and the “compare” options. Thus, when a manuscript itself gave no indication as to how to paragraph and number it (like secondary titles, gaps, or capital letters) we divided the given manuscript in accordance with the closest related manuscript that was paragraphed and numbered by the scribe. As a result, the sequential numbers of the corresponding paragraphs in the Freiburg and Parma manuscripts, as well as in the Ambrosiana manuscript and Bologna printed edition are identical. Consequently, it is not advisable to use our numeration for scholarly reference; researchers should rather refer to a specific place in those manuscripts by citing the folio number and the line.

To provide the reader with the best means of judgment with regard to the Sefer Hasidim manuscripts, we have developed a series of editorial conventions that we used throughout the database.

  1. A question mark after a letter ( ?א ) signifies that the character is blurred or partially preserved, and our reading is not certain.
  2. A question mark between two asterisks (*?*) signifies that the character cannot be figured out.
  3. Three question marks between asterisks (*???*) mean that the whole word cannot be read. The same with X attached (X *???*) implies that we cannot determine how many words we were unable to read.
  4. A part of the text between two “dollar” signs ($……$) contains a scribal correction or a supplement written above the line or in margins. The scribe usually provided indications as to where his correction/supplement must be inserted. We ignored the text added by a modern hand (e.g., in the Bologna print) or long marginal quotes of well-known works (e.g., 'Or Zaru‘a in MS Parma) if their script is different from the body of the manuscript.
  5. Braces indicate that the text included between them {…} was crossed out or erased by the scribe. Double braces {{…}} indicate that the text was censored (especially relevant for the Bologna print and MS Boesky).
  6. The scribe sometimed assigns Hebrew numerals to words in a sentence that were written in the wrong order. In this way, he indicated to the reader which part of the sentence must be read first (marked by a supra-linear א) and which must follow (marked by ב ). We presented this as $( א )$ and $( ב )$.
  7. Gaps, inserted by the scribe in the body of the text, can be meaningful. To draw the reader's attention to them, we have inserted # in case of a larger than usual indentation, and ## when the scribe skips one whole line or more.
  8. Words written in capital and/or bold characters in the manuscripts appear as capital and bold in our edition. Words with supra-linear dots, strokes, or ornaments appear in our edition in italics unless these markers imply an abbreviation. Most frequently, transliterated foreign words and subtitles belong to this category.

The readers may start using the database by scrolling down the panel with the fifteen Sefer Hasidim manuscripts and choosing one of them. Then, having found the desired passage, the readers may follow the links located at the bottom of the paragraph, which will lead them to the parallel passages in other manuscripts. It must be taken into consideration that the manuscripts are interconnected only within the group in which they belong ( Parma or Bologna ). However, the links between MS Parma and the Bologna printed edition will allow the reader to easily travel from one group to the other. For example, to compare the manuscripts Boesky 45 and Ambrosiana X 111, users must follow the link from the Boesky to the Parma manuscript, from the Parma manuscript to the Bologna print, and finally from the Bologna print to the Ambrosiana manuscript. The manuscripts of the “mixed” group are linked to either MS Parma or the Bologna printed edition, depending on the location of their parallel sections (see the “mixed group” above).

Two rectangles standing next to the links at the bottom of the paragraph signify the “compare” option that enables the reader to juxtapose parallel paragraphs from different manuscripts. This tool is programmed to locate the sequences of two identical words within the selected paragraphs from two manuscripts, highlighted in dark red. As a result, some segments of the paragraphs will show a markedly higher concentration of highlighted words, which enables the reader to visually identify the parallel passages. Our database also offers an option to search a specific word or phrase in any of the fifteen manuscripts or in all of them at once.

The Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database (PUSHD) tries to provide all advantages of an electronic reference. In addition to the “search” and “compare” tools, unavailable in a traditional edition, our database is being constantly improved and updated. It does not present a final publication of the Sefer Hasidim manuscripts, but rather aims to share the current results of our research with other scholars, and, as any other research in progress, may contain mistakes. Therefore, we encourage the reader to suspect a possible error wherever a better reading may seem appropriate on the basis of the reader's analysis and comparison between the parallel passages in different manuscripts. However, the reader must keep in mind that we did not amend scribal mistakes, and that the presumably correct reading is not always the reading appearing in the manuscript. Comments and corrections are cordially invited, and we express our deepest gratitude to their prospective authors.

For inquiries, please contact Michael Meerson at michaelmeerson@gmail.com