The Strashun Library of Vilna
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Inscriptions from Sefer Shaʻare Teshuvah

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Inscriptions from Sefer Shaʻare Teshuvah




Strashun Library
Marginalia, Hebrew


Sha'are Teshuvah (The Gates of Repentance), by Yonah ben Abraham Gerondi, (Rabbenu Yonah, d. 1264) is a guide for those who wish to repent and return to a life of Torah. This edition was published in Krakow in 1581. The book was owned by several other men before passing into Matityahu Strashun's hands in the 19th century.

It is not unusual to find inscriptions and marginalia in old Hebrew books. Here are several from this book:

“Nosn Nete,” a pre-Strashun owner of Sha'are Teshuvah, notes that even though the sages say that it is forbidden to write in books, the fact that there are book thieves in the world compels him to write in the book that it belongs to him.

Another Hebrew inscription that quotes passages from the Talmud and other sources about thieves seems also designated as a warning to book pilferers and may be in the hand of Shemu'el Strashun, Matthias's father, an important rabbinical scholar and communal activist.

In one inscription, Shmu'el Strashun crosses out the ex libris inscription of a former owner of the book, Mikhl son of Avrom, and appends his own name instead.

Occasionally, there is evidence that not every reader paid much heed to the idea that books were to be revered and treated as holy objects. It is not that uncommon to come across penmanship practice or bits of arithmetic in the fly-leaves of some books: This grocery list from 1802 records prices for milk, eggs, and [poor quality?] cherries.


Gerondi, Yonah ben Abraham


YIVO Library


Yitsḥaḳ ben Aharon mi-Prosṭits








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Gerondi, Yonah ben Abraham, “Inscriptions from Sefer Shaʻare Teshuvah ,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed March 2, 2024,
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