Manuscript, Urim VeTumim and Goralot by Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra – Rome, 18th Century – Scribed by Rabbi Avraham Anav for Rabbi Michael Chaim Di Segni

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Manuscript, Urim VeTumim and Goralot (lots) by R. Avraham ibn Ezra. Rome, [18th century].
Illustrated title page. Semi-cursive and square Italian script. Scribed by R. Avraham Anav, for R. Michael Chaim Di Segni (rabbi of Rome), as stated on the title page: "…scribed by Avraham son of Yaakov Anav upon the request of R. Michael Chaim Di Segni, here Rome". Includes two works: Urim VeTumim and Goralot by R. Avraham ibn Ezra.
On the verso of the title page, illustration of a scales within a frame, with a rhyming caption (the scales are depicted tilting to one side). On the opposite page is a sonnet forming an acrostic of the initials of Avraham ben Yaakov. These initials are mentioned again in the concluding line.
The purpose of Sefer Urim VeTumim was to foresee the future through lots. This work or parts of it are found in manuscripts already in the Middle Ages. The work in the present format (with slight textual variations) first appeared in print in Dyhernfurth 1728.
Goralot by R. Avraham ibn Ezra is similarly used for foreseeing the future, and also appeared in manuscripts during the Middle Ages. It was first printed in Ferrara 1556, and later in Venice 1657.
Brief poem by the scribe at the end of the manuscript, requesting the finder of this manuscript to return it to its owner.
R. Michael Chaim Di Segni served as chief rabbi of Rome from 1750 until his passing in 1772. The Di Segni family was a rabbinic family in Rome for many generations (A. Salah, La République des Lettres: Rabbins, médecins et écrivains juifs en Italie au XVIIIè Siècle, Leiden-Boston 2007, p. 594).
The scribe, R. Avraham son of Yaakov Anav (d. 1782), from the famous Anav family in Rome. Served in his youth as teacher of young children. He composed a play regarding the claims of the Ammonites in the times of Yiftach HaGiladi which was performed in the boys' school in Rome in 1758. R. Michael Di Segni, for whom the present manuscript was produced, was also present at the time. He also composed a wedding cantata (see: J. Schirmann, Theater and Music in the Italian Ghetti Between the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Zion, 29, 1964, pp. 89-90, 100). Upon the passing of R. Michael Di Segni in 1772, R. Avraham Anav was appointed one of the three community leaders. Between 1773-1782, his signature appears on many documents as one of the three rabbis leading the city (see: G. Sermoneta, La cultura ebraica a Roma nel XVIII secólo alla luce di nuovi documenti, Italia Judaica, 67, 1989, pp. 74-75, notes 13-14).

[97] leaves (including approx. 10 blank leaves). Approx. 12 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains, including dampstains. Worming, slightly affecting text. Inscriptions. Gilt edges. Old binding, decorated with metal-thread embroidery; blemishes and worming to binding.

The manuscript was in the possession of the Anav family until the 20th century. At the end of the manuscript, a dedication in Italian, dated 1923, from Louisa Morpurgo née Anav, to her nephew Angelo Anav, in which she writes that the manuscript was preserved in their family.

Italian Jewry – Manuscripts and Printed Items