SEFER HA-NEYAR


SEFER HA-NEYAR, an anonymous book of halakhic decisions by one of the last French tosafists of the late 13th or early 14th century. Extremely strange and farfetched theories were put forward by Jewish bibliographers and chroniclers about this book, which was known to them only by hearsay. Only after its publication did it become possible to gain an idea of its true nature. The work contains about 40 chapters, embracing all the halakhot governing the day-to-day observance of the Jew. The book chiefly relies on the teachings of the great French and German scholars, the tosafists, down to *Isaac of Corbeil and *Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil who are, however, rarely mentioned by name. The author also made use of the works of the great Spanish posekim, such as Maimonides and Isaac Alfasi, and the *Halakhot Gedolot. In its general character, sources, and aims, there is a strong resemblance between Sefer ha-Neyar and the *Kol Bo, another anonymous work. The Neyar, however, appears to have been compiled before the Kol Bo, since it contains very few references to *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg and Pereẓ of Corbeil. The Sefer ha-Neyar describes the customs of France and Germany, and contains valuable halakhic, literary, and historical material, for which it is often the sole source. One of its main sources was the work of a certain Baruch Ḥayyim b. Menahem, a scholar not otherwise known. From the quotations themselves it is clear that Baruch was a pupil of *Samson of Sens and of his own father, who was also a pupil of Samson and of the brothers *Moses and *Samuel of Evreux. Anonymous haggahot ("glosses") have been added to the text of the book; although they resemble it in content and in use of sources, they seem to be by another scholar who lived a generation later than the author of the work, and may have been his pupil. There are also a number of anonymous haggahot of a different type, entitled Nofekh; the exact relationship between them and the book itself is not clear. Some consider that the name of the work (apparently not its original name) was derived from the French town Niort (and there are additional indications that the book originated there). Others connect it with the introduction into France of writing paper (neyar, "paper") at the end of the 13th century, it being one of the first books written on paper. The book enjoyed a wide circulation and manuscripts of it are extant. Later its popularity declined. The only halakhist to quote the work, in his responsa, was Joseph *Colon. The first part of Sefer ha-Neyar (25 chapters) was published in New York in 1960 by G. Appel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

G. Appel (ed.), Sefer ha-Neyar (1960), introd.; idem, in: Sura, 2 (1955–56), 356–87 (Heb.); H. Gross, in: REJ, 7 (1883), 74–7.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.