||Popular comprehensive book of Jewish customs and codes of conduct for the entire year, encompassing Shabbat and festivals, in Yiddish. The volume begins with the conclusion of Shabbat, proceeds to Friday night, Shabbat morning, and Rosh Hodesh. Minhagim follows the order of the Jewish calendar and at the beginning of the section for each month is a pictorial insert of the sign for that month. The text is in a single column in Vaybertaytsh, excepting headings, initial words, and blessings to be recited, which are in square letters, blessings vocalized.
Minhagim was originally written by R. Isaac Tyrnau (end of 14th century) in Hebrew. It is a popular compilation of customs as practiced in the mid-fifteenth century, recording the religious conventions and practices of central European Jewry for the entire year. As a result of the Black Death (1348–50), which had uprooted most of the communities of Germany, “scholars became so few... I saw localities where there were no more than two or three persons with a real knowledge of local custom.” As Tyrnau wrote in the preface, his aim was to create a common minhag. Glosses by a Hungarian scholar, whose identity is not certain, apparently were added to the book and published together with it. The customs recorded in Minhagim were subsequently adopted in most communities in Austria, Hungary, and Styria. Although written by R. Tyrnau for the layman in an easy Hebrew, it did not fully address the layman’s needs, necessitating a Yiddish translation. That translation was provided by R. Simon Levi ben Judah Guenzburg, and is in that format that Minhagim became a very popular book of Jewish customs and practice. R. Tyrnau’s name is frequently omitted from the work, only R. Guenzburg’s name appearing on title pages.
A legend has been preserved to the effect that the Hungarian crown prince fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Tyrnau, and out of love for her renounced the throne, became converted to Judaism, and went to study Torah from Sephardi rabbis. On his return to Hungary he entered into a clandestine marriage with her and continued to study under his father-in-law. His identity was accidentally discovered by Catholic priests who demanded that he revert to his original faith. When he refused he was burned at the stake and the Jews expelled from Tyrnau.