Letter: T-S Ar.46.97

Letter T-S Ar.46.97

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In PGP since 2020

Description

Letter to Maimonides with autograph response on verso. "T-S Arabic Box 46, fol. 97, is a small sheet of paper the verso of which contains a note with a request for medical advice. It is interesting to note the ethical note introduced into this medical business by the sentence: 'since my entire aim in this matter is to seek the nearness to God'. The writer presumably means that through preserving health it is possible to better devote onself to the service of God. This brings to mind another similar request addressed to Maimonides in a letter published by D. H. Baneth [see the autograph letter published by Baneth, "Me-halifat ha-Mikhtavin shel ha-Rambam", Studies in Memory of Asher Gulak and Samuel Klein, pp. 50 ff.]: 'I desire from your bounty, my lord--since you, together with God, can heal my soul and its organs, so that it can employ itself in the study of the sciences--to prescribe for me what I should eat, since this is necessary, so that I can more easily understand these matters [the philosophical problems described in the first part of the letter]'. That letter has also in common with ours the fact that Maimonides' reply is written on the back of the sheet." - S. M. Stern. There are two blocks of text in Maimonides's hand on verso, at ninety degrees to each other. One is almost entirely illegible, does not appear to relate to the question on recto, and (very speculatively) could be a responsum for a legal question that the writer sent separately (though Stern would differ, as he read "dirham of lemon" where I read "shall be bound by a vow"). The other block is the answer to the dietary questions on recto. ASE.

Transcription

S. M. Stern, "Maimonidis Commentarius in Mischnam" (Copenhagen: n.p., 1966), vol. III.

Recto:

  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . אחת שאלתי
  • מאת ייי אותה אבקש אל ישוב דך נכלם תם
  • אשתהי תדברני פי מא לאח לי אן אפעלה והו אני
  • אכון אכל אלקדר אלדי רסמ[ת] ואכון אנקץ מנה כל יום
  • קדר דרהם עלי קדר מא תרי אן לי פיה מצלחה חתי
  • אקף פיה אלי אלחד אלדי תאמרני בה לאן אלגרץ כלה
  • בהדא אלקרב מני תע בכל כוחי [או: רוחי] לא תגפל עני פי
  • מא ימכנך אן תפעלה מעה לוגה אללה פאני ראית פי
  • כת[אב] אלפואל יקול מן אלמעדה אדא לטפת אל . . . . . .
  • אלדם ארתפע מנה בכאר לטיף יציר מנה מא יסמי
  • רוחא ובחסב צפא הדא אלרוח ותהדבה פי אלאתה
  • יכון צדור קוי אלנפס ענה ואסתעסדאדה לקבול אתרהא
  • ותצף לי מא אטבך אדא אתפק לי לפרקים מא יכון
  • מואפק להדא אלגרץ ולא מן אלשי אלגאל ודון אותי
  • לכף זכות פי הדה אלאלפאט עלי קדר גהלי ושל׳ יר׳ אס׳

Verso:

  • קד ק . . . לאתי
  • . . . . . . . . .
  • פ[א]ן בקית . . . .
  • אל . . . . בעד אן
  • [דר]הם לימון (או: [יל]תזם בימין)
  • ב[א]ן ל[ם י?]בע . . אחד מן
  • נסכת (?) . . . . . .
  • . . . . . . . פי . .
  • מא [ירסם?] מן צר[ו]ע [אלא]גתדא [
  • ואן לם יו[פק?] דלך פבלתם (?) אלצ[
  • מנזוע אלע[גם] וקלב לוז וצ[
  • קלוב ראזיאנג . . בעץ אלא[
  • מא יעמל מנהא . . . . . [

Recto (Stern’s translation, slightly modified):

  • . . . One thing I have asked
  • of the Lord, that will I seek after (Ps. 24:7). Do not turn away the oppressed shamefaced.
  • I desire you to advise me on what I propose to do—namely
  • to eat the amount which you have prescribed, but to diminish it daily
  • by about a dirham, according to what seems to you beneficial, and
  • stop with this at a level which you order to me; since my entire aim
  • in this matter is to get near to Him with all my force (or: spirit). Do not neglect me
  • regarding what you can do in this matter, for the sake of God, since I have seen in
  • the book of al-Fawwal that if the stomach is refined. . .
  • the blood, there rises from it a fine steam which becomes what is called
  • spirit, and according to the purity of this spirit and the degree of clarity in its organs,
  • the faculties of the soul arise from it, and it [the soul] is prepared to receive its influences.
  • Prescribe to me what I should cook if occasion sometimes arises: something
  • which agrees with this aim, but is not expensive. Judge me leniently
  • for these words, according to my ignorance. May your peace increase, amen selah.

Verso, second block (Stern’s reading and translation for lines 3-5):

  • What is prescribed from the types of nutrition [
  • And if that does not work (?), in that case [
  • with the kernels removed, and the inside of almonds [
  • the insides of fennel, some of [
  • what is prepared of it . . . [