When Sotheby’s first put Valmadonna up for sale almost two years ago, the auction house exhibited the entire collection — every manuscript and book — in its showroom on the East Side of Manhattan. Once word of the exhibit got out, Jews and gentiles alike flocked to see it, waiting in lines that snaked around blocks outside Sotheby’s. And for good reason. The most spectacular manuscripts and printed books lay flat in numerous glass cabinets where you could stare down at their title pages, while on 20-foot-high shelves lining the walls of the immense showrooms, the imprints of all the cities and towns of the inhabited Jewish world over the last 600 years loomed above and around you.
The exhibition was the closest one could ever come to seeing the entire Jewish people in its generations gathered in a single enclosed space. There is a famous rabbinic legend to the effect that when Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai, not just the Israelites who had left Egypt in the Exodus but the soul of every Jew past and present stood at the foot of the mountain. Looking at Valmadonna at Sotheby’s was like standing at Sinai.This captures perfectly what I, and everyone I know, felt when we visited the great library.
Some of the posts after the jump:
Feb 18, 2009 ... Sotheby's Auction House is displaying the Valmadonna Trust Library until tomorrow. This is one of the most impressive Judaica collections in ...
Feb 20, 2009 ... Though I didn't make it to Manhattan to gaze at the Valmadonna treasures, many of my friends did. Here are their stories: ...
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