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KUNTERES (Heb. קֻנְטְרֵס), a written sheet, a notebook, or (later) a pamphlet. Various suggestions have been put forward as to the derivation of the word. L. Zunz regarded it as an abbreviation, or corruption, of the Latin word commentarius. Although in Yalkut Shimoni Psalms 749, the reading is "He took a blank kunteres and handed it to the judge," the parallel passage in Midrash Tehillim to 45:5 reads "he took a קרטס," and on this basis it has been suggested that it is a corruption of the Greek Χάρτης ("a card, or sheet"). Elijah Levita, on the other hand (Tishbi s.v.), connects it with the Latin quinterno or quaterno ("a notebook"). The essence of the kunteres was that it consisted of individual sheets bound together, in contrast to the continuous scroll. Rashi (to Shab. 98b) explains the word atba ("a clasp"; Men. 32a; Shab. 98a) to refer to "the clasp which held together the pages of a kunteres," and he himself refers to the "kunteres of my old teacher" (Git. 82a). It seems certain that these kunteresim for talmudic works originated in the geonic period, from the fact that those who received answers to the questions addressed to the geonim collected them in bound volumes, arranging them either in accordance with their contents, or in the order of the tractates, or joining together all the responsa emanating from one Gaon (see S. Abramson, SinaiSefer Yovel (1958), 404ff., and especially idem in Jubilee Volume in Honor of Harry Wolfson (1965), 1–23). In this respect the kunteresim played a significant role in the emergence of the Hebrew book. The most common use of the word, however, is as the common designation used by the tosafists for Rashi's commentary to the Talmud (although Rashi himself as well as his pupils refer to his Bible commentary by this name), probably because it was written on separate sheets and bound together. In later ages, however, authors of rabbinic works used the word kunteres for a pamphlet which was usually in the form of an appendix to the main work, and from this the word came to be used for any pamphlet or booklet.


J. Fuerst, in: mgwj, 38 (1894), 306; S. Krauss, Griechische und lateinische Lehnwoerter im Talmud, Midrasch und Targum, 2 (1899), 509f.; A. Berliner, Beitraege zur Geschichte der Raschi-Commentare (1903), index, s.v.

[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz]