The Montefiore Sefarim

MonteAs Visiting Rabbi of Bevis Marks for Purim this year, I made an interesting discovery.

The portion read for Parashat Zachor is fairly near the end of the Torah, so when the shamash and I were getting the sefer ready for the Shabbat reading, we had to roll it right to the end. That was the point at which I noticed something unusual in the final column of writing that I’d heard about before but never seen. Can you spot what it is?

No, I’m not referring to the grey rectangles, I added them to mask the name of God so there is no danger of its being accidentally obliterated, which is forbidden.

monte sefer end

It is very common for the last three words in a sefer to be written in outline by the scribe and “filled in” by laymen who have contributed to the cost of the sefer or who deserve recognition for some other reason. So frequently the last three words look less “polished” than the rest.

In this sefer it is not the last three, but the last four words that have clearly been written by a layman.

It is known that Sir Moses Montefiore, who commissioned numerous sefarim from his personal scribe, liked to write the last four words himself, since the fourth from last word is “Moshe”, his own name. So it seems likely that this is one of the “Montefiore sefarim”, written by his personal scribe and completed by the great man himself!


Although not directly related to the article above, this Torah cloak, slightly faded but nonetheless masterfully and lavishly embroidered with the arms of Sir Moses Montefiore, is on display in the ladies gallery at Bevis Marks; so if you haven’t done so yet, make sure that on your next visit you go upstairs and take a look at the display cabinets.


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