The gift Francis gave the rabbis at the synagogue was reported by L’Osservatore Romano as “a 14th century commentary on the book of Leviticus”, and by Catholic Philly as being “a codex containing five pages of Jewish biblical commentary”. Both of these are incorrect but L’Osservatore Romano correctly states that Francis presented the rabbis with Codex Vaticano Ebraico 700. This name can also be read in photos where it is printed Vat. Ebr. 700 on a sheet of paper. One can go to the Digital Vatican Library and search many items that have been scanned from the Vatican’s library. There one finds Vat. Ebr. 700 listed in the archived manuscripts where it states that it is from the 12th to 13th century and that Vat. Ebr. 700 is a Sifra. (Elsewhere we discovered that it is of Yemeni origin.) So what is a Sifra? It is to put it simply a Halakhic Midrash. So what does that mean? Wikipedia states, “Midrash halakha (Hebrew: הֲלָכָה) was the ancient Judaic rabbinic method of Torah [i.e. Talmud] study that expounded upon the traditionally received 613 Mitzvot (commandments) by identifying their sources in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and by interpreting these passages as proofs of the laws' authenticity.” In other words, the Sifra is a “a hermeneutic of camouflage,” aimed at presenting oral traditions [Talmudic] as though they were Scripture-based injunctions. Why would the rabbis be so excited to receive Codex Vaticano Ebraico 700? The reason is that the 613 mitzvot or laws which Talmudic Jews are required to follow were codified and enumerated by Maimonides and this very rare manuscript on the 613 mitzvot was written within Maimonides’ lifetime. It’s all together another question as to why the Vatican is in possession of this manuscript.
like the 10 Commandments, taken from cover of a book on the 613 mitzvot.