Lost Sentence of Talmud Yerushalmi Unearthed in Geneva


cairo-genizah-genevaManuscripts from the Cairo Genizah, the famous collection of ancient Jewish writings stored in Egypt, which were recently examined reveal new segments of Gemara, Mishnayos and more. Among the manuscripts was an entire sentence from the Talmud Yerushalami in Maseches Bikkurim which had been missing until now. The incorporation of the phrase in the Talmud Yerushalmi renders the Gemara understandable.

The manuscripts, which include 350 pages from the Cairo Genizah, were stored for some 100 years in a tin can in the Geneva University that no one knew existed. Greek papyrus experts recently discovered the tin can and employed the services of Hebrew Univesity’s Prof. David Rosenthal of the Talmud Department.

Rosenthal recently published a book containing some of the newly discovered segments together with accompanying analyses.

“The Cairo Genizah included any tattered Jewish book, which means it contains a variety of literature. There were texts we didn’t know existed and each one is important,” Rosenthal explained.

“The Talmud Yerushalmi we know is based on a single manuscript and therefore any ancient Genizah segment we find it extremely important. What we found in the Geneva collection is a sentence which didn’t appear in the versions we know of.”

Apart from the Talmud Yerushalmi, the manuscripts found also contained other sources such as a piece from Rav Saadia Gaon’s Sefer Hagalui, as well as poetry and liturgy.

 “The 20th century has given us two great discoveries. One is the Dead Sea Scrolls and the other is the unearthing of parts of the Cairo Genizah,” Prof. Rosenthal said.

 “The segments in the Genizah exposed us to many new writings we had no knowledge of, and equally as important – introduced us to different versions of known text. Therein lays the importance of the pages found in Geneva.”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/Ynet}


  1. I wonder what Reb Chaim Kanievsy will say about this. He’s the undisputed expert in Yerushalmi (along with the rest of the Torah)!

  2. Once information is lost in this manner, it no longer gets included into the mesorah of torah even if later discovered. What was placed in a Geniza was for a reason, and therefore deemed untrustworthy.

  3. Re. comments 2 and 5: absolute rubbish. While sectarian or unusable mss were also placed in the Genizah, the vast majority of the mss represent pages whose condition necessitated their retirement. They were valuable, treasured texts in their lifetimes; once they started to fall apart and could no longer be repaired they were placed in the Genizah. The mss of the Yerushalmi show the same scribal problems as all mss, but to characterise all the mss of the Genizah as unreliable or untrustworthy? Is the Rambam’s own copy of the Mishne Torah untrustworthy? Is Manoah of Narbonne’s own copy of Sefer ha-Menuha untrustworthy?

  4. I once showed on of the major poskim from the last generation a Thesuva from a new ‘Thusveas H’Gaonim.His comment H’gaonim was ‘You see how right the Chazon Ish was when he said to burn all the new Rishonim’…

  5. >The Cairo Genizah is NOT reliable.

    It was reliable when Artscroll published their recent Great Jewish Letters and wanted to popularize letters of extraordinary interest by the Rambam and his brother.