Auction 83 - Part I - Rare and Important Items

Megillat Yechezkel on Parchment – Prayers Recited at the Gravesite of Prophet Yechezkel – Iraq, Early 20th Century

Opening: $5,000
Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000
Sold for: $6,250
Including buyer's premium
Megillat Yechezkel on parchment – order of prayers recited at the gravesite of prophet Yechezkel in Iraq. [Iraq, ca. early 20th century].
Sephardic stam script, on soft, brown gevil, mounted on a carved, wooden roller.
Iraqi Jews customarily read from such scrolls when praying at the gravesite of prophet Yechezkel in the Al Kifl village (which they referred to as "the village of our master, prophet Yechezkel"), during the pilgrimage on Shavuot and in the month of Elul.
The tomb of prophet Yechezkel was considered holy by Jews of Iraq and neighboring countries, and for hundreds of years was a focal point for pilgrimage. R. Binyamin of Tudela, who visited the site in 1170 writes: "...that place is deemed holy by the Jewish people until this day; people come from afar to pray and celebrate there between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; the exilarch and yeshiva deans travel from Baghdad...". In 1180, R. Petachiah of Regensburg visited the site and likewise described the mass pilgrimage and miracles which took place on that occasion: "...on Sukkot, people come from all countries, and the entrance widens and heightens on its own to the extent camels can enter; some sixty thousand or eighty thousand Jews convene there, apart from the Muslims, and build Sukkot in the courtyard. The entrance later returns to its original size and everyone witnesses it..." (for more information about the Tomb of Yechezkel, the customs surrounding it and its mentions over the years, see: Avraham ben Yaakov, Kevarim Kedoshim BeBavel, Jerusalem 1974, p. 38 onwards).
Many wondrous stories are connected to the tomb of Yechezkel, and many Jews would visit it to pray and beg for salvation. One of the early customs was to visit Yechezkel's tomb on Shavuot, on the first day of which Maaseh Merkavah from the Book of Yechezkel is read as haftarah. Thousands of Jews from the area would participate in this event. Another prevalent pilgrimage time was the month of Elul and the subsequent festivals of Tishrei. On both these occasions, pilgrims would recite at the gravesite a special order of verses and prayers, from parchment scrolls (see Kevarim Kedoshim BeBavel, ibid, pp. 80-81).
Contents of the present scroll: two sections from the Book of Yechezkel (Maaseh Merkavah, chapter I and the Dry Bones prophecy, chapter 37); lengthy prayer, several Psalms and sayings of the sages; and an additional brief prayer.
Dedicatory inscription at beginning of scroll: "Dedicated by R. Avraham Ezra Tzion Rachamim".
Height of parchment: approx. 10.5 cm. Stains, tears and blemishes, affecting text in several places. Strap closure at beginning of scroll.
Esther Scrolls and Parchment Manuscripts