Pinkas Chevra Kadisha of Körmend (Hungary) – 1807-1912 – Large Manuscript Volume, with Colorful Illustrations, Ornaments and Micrography – Elegant Binding

Opening: $30,000
Estimate: $50,000 - $60,000

Illustrated manuscript, Pinkas Chevra Kadisha (burial society register) of the Körmend community (Körmend, Hungary), ca. 1807-1912.
Large, thick manuscript volume, with colorful illustrations and ornaments, bound in an elegant binding with a silver ornament in the center. The title page states the date of completion of the Pinkas – 1812. The following leaves contain a poem and the society's regulations, dated 1807. The Pinkas was in use in the Körmend community until ca. 1912, and includes various entries in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Hungarian.
The first five pages of the Pinkas are written in calligraphic script, with colorful illustrations and ornaments. The first page – the title page – depicts Moses and Aaron with the Tablets of the Law above them. Scribed at the center of the title page: "Belongs to the Chevra Kadisha Gemilut Chassadim of the Körmend community, written and completed in 1812". A verse mentioning Moses and Aaron surrounds the illustration, and at the foot of the page, verses and part of a piyyut regarding the death of Moses and Aaron.
A fine micrography composed of text from Shir HaShirim occupies the center of the second page. It depicts King Solomon holding a scepter, sitting by a table with the scroll of Kohelet. A draped canopy surrounds the micrography. At the foot of the page, poem forming the acrostic "Leib Sofer", concluding with the date 1807. The poem is surrounded with verses from Mishlei and Kohelet regarding death.
In the center of the third page, note by the scribe Yehuda Leib son of R. Moshe, within frames consisting of text – verses and sayings regarding preparation for death.
The fourth page features six medallions on a colorful, floral background, with quotations pertaining to the different stages in a person's life – birth, childhood, youth, adulthood, old age and death; from the Talmud, Chovot HaLevavot and Sefer HaBrit.
The fifth leaf contains a memorial inscription for the young man Yosef son of R. Feish… who took care of his four brothers, and passed away on 27th Elul 1806. Beneath the inscription, colorful illustration of four trees, with a tree fallen to the ground near them.
The decorated leaves are followed by a list of 50 regulations dated Tuesday, 15th Adar I 1807. This list was copied when the Pinkas was made; two additional regulations were added later. A list of decision from 1874 was added before the regulations. The regulations are followed by a document in German dated October 1852, signed by the community leaders, with the wax seal of the Körmend community.
The Pinkas then contains various entries in Yiddish, German and Hungarian – decisions reached at Chevra Kadisha meetings, documentation of donations received by the society from relatives of the deceased. The records include the names of the donors and the sum donated, mostly with a commitment to mention the deceased in the Yizkor prayers (the names of some of the donors appear in the list of men and women on pp. 68-76; see below). Other entries contain protocols, summaries of meetings, and various decisions of the directors of the Chevra Kadisha.
On pp. 68-76, list of names (men and women) to be mentioned in the Yizkor prayers, opening with an architecural title page.
The list is followed by a colorful leaf, inscribed: "His majesty Prince Fülöp Batthyány, honorary member of the society" (Yiddish); topped with a crown. Prince Fülöp Batthyány was declared honorary member of the Chevra Kadisha of Körmend in 1869, after he granted the community a large plot of land for establishing a new cemetery (see Pinkas HaKehillot, Hungary, p. 494).
This is followed by over two hundred leaves with names of members of the society (Hebrew; one name per leaf, mostly without any other details).
The Pinkas is bound in an elaborate, leather covered, gilt-decorated binding. Fine metal corners. Silver, heart-shaped plaque in center of front board, with engraved inscription "Serve G-d with kindness and truth" [chronogram indicating the year 1838].

[272] leaves (including several blank leaves). Most pages numbered (various paginations, some original, some added later in pencil). 44.5 cm. Gilt edges. Good-fair condition. Stains and wear. Closed and open tears, mostly not affecting text. Large tears to a few leaves; two leaves torn down the length (lacking approx. half of each leaf). Several leaves torn out and lacking. Abrasions and blemishes to binding. Clasp remnants.

1. Perry's, Judaica, Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art, Tel-Aviv, 22 January 1986, lot 282.
2. The Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv, HU.011.002.

Pinkasim – Communities and Societies