AUCTION 33 | Tuesday, June 20th, 2006 at 1:00
Fine Judaica: Including Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, & Autograph Letters

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Lot 202


Vital, Chaim. Sepher Etz Chaim [Tree of Life]. * Hakdamah ha-Koleleth [“General Introduction” (Otzroth Chaim)]. * Peirush Siphra di-Tzeni’utha. [Commentary of R. Isaac Luria to Book of Concealment]. * Sha’ar Nevu’ah ve-Ru’ach ha-Kodesh ve-Yichudim [Gate of Prophecy, Divine Spirit, and Unifications] I. Etz Chaim: ff. 171. II. Hakdamah ha-Koleleth: ff. 172-185. III: Peirush Siphra di-Tzeni’utha: ff. 185-196. IV. Sha’ar Nevu’ah ve-Ru’ach ha-Kodesh ve-Yichudim: ff. 199-205. Browned throughout. Contemporary calf-backed boards. Folio

Reisha (Rzeszow), Poland: 1747

Est: $4,000 - $6,000
Magnificent East European Copy of the “Bible” of Lurianic Kabbalah. The full name of the code of Lurianic kabbalah compiled by R. Chaim Vital and finally edited by R. Meir Poppers is “Derech Etz Chaim,” but as R. Chaim Joseph David Azulai (Chid”a) already observed centuries ago, the work has popularly come to be known simply as “Etz Chaim.” I.The text of Etz Chaim is complete, though the arrangement is somewhat different from the standard edition nowadays. Thus our copy has 49 Gates, as opposed to the 50 Gates customary today. II.At the conclusion of Etz Chaim, there appears “Hakdamah ha-Koleleth” [The General Introduction]. In reality, this is another work, Otzroth Chaim, edited by R. Jacob Tzemach. It so happens that the beginning words of this treatise IS “Hakdamah achath koleleth” (One General Introduction). Our manuscript reaches as far as Sha’ar ha-Nekudim, Chapter Ten of Otzroth Chaim. This was all the copyist had available to him. “Thus far I found, and the rest of the leaf was blank.” Our copy abounds in textual variants, as well as several sprawling “hagahoth” or glosses by, it is assumed, various Aschkenazic kabbalists. Several are signed “Betzalel” by a yet unidentified author (see ff.173v., 182v.). Another bears the signature “Aschkenazi, Nathan Nota” (f.180v.). This latter gloss most likely is by R. Nathan Nata Mannheim, who together with R. Jacob Vilna, penned a commentary “Ya’ir Nethiv” to R. Meir Popper’s kabbalistic dictionary “Me’orei Or,” published together as Me’oroth Nathan (Frankfort-am-Main, 1709). A gloss signed simply “Nathan” (bot. f.173r.) maybe by Mannheim or possibly by R. Nathan Spira. Older glosses claim to have received from the “Rav” [Luria], either directly, or through the intermediacy of his chief disciple R. Chaim Vital or the “Likkutei ha-Chaverim” [Collections of the Companions]. “Mahara”sh” in this context is R. Samuel Vital, son of R. Chaim Vital. R. Jacob Tzemach, who edited Otzroth Chaim, received the Lurianic tradition from R. Samuel Vital. On f. 177v. the anonymous glossarist writes: “This solution I found in the manuscript of Rav Alfas z”l but it is of no import to me.” III.The Commentary of R. Isaac Luria to Siphra di-Tzeni’utha has been compared both to the version found in Sha’ar Ma’amrei Rashb”i, second of the “Eight Gates” of R. Chaim Vital, and to the recension published recently by R. Ya’akov Moshe Hillel in Sepher ha-Derushim edited by R. Ephraim Pancheri (Jerusalem, 1996). There are very minor variations. In certain instances the reading of our manuscript is superior to R. Yaakov Hillel’s version. For example, in Sepher ha-Derushim (p. 260, col. b) the reading is as follows - “Kulam kelulim zeh ba-zeh, ve-zeh ba-zeh, ki kevar yatzanu me-ha-inyan” (they are all included, these in those, and these in those, because we have already strayed from the topic) - which is quite incomprehensible. The corect reading has ben preserved in our manuscript, f. 192r.: “Kulam kelulim zeh ba-zeh, ve-dai ba-zeh, ki kevar yatzanu me-ha-inyan” (they are all included, these in those, and let this suffice, because we have already strayed from the topic). (The Brandwein edition of Sha’ar Ma’amrei Rashb”i [Jerusalem, 1988] has our reading “ve-dai ba-zeh” on p. 138, col. b.) Our scribe laments the fact that the copy of the Commentary at his disposal stopped short leaving approximately twenty blank leaves. The last words in our copy are: “Ve-zeh pei[rush] konen shamayim bi-thevunah, ve-la[ze]h nikr[aith] binah, [ben] yod-hé, shemah ke-shem binah (!) [benah].” For purposes of comparison, R. Ya’akov Hillel’s version runs from p. 237 through p. 267 of Sepher ha-Derushim. Our copy trails off on p. 261, col. a. (for a remainder of 7 double-columned pages). In the Brandwein edition of Sh’ar Ma’amrei Rashb”i, the Commentary runs from p. 105 through p. 149. Our copy comes to a close on p. 139, col. a, leaving a remainder of 10 double-columned pages. IV.The “Sha’ar Nevu’ah ve-Ruach ha-Kodesh ve-Yichudim” (by R. Jacob Tzemach?) is definitely different from the Sha’ar Ru’ach ha-Kodesh which forms the Seventh Gate of the Shemonah She’arim of R. Chaim Vital (edited by his son R. Samuel Vital). Our copy of “Sha’ar Nevu’ah ve-Ru’ach ha-Kodesh ve-Yichudim” is incomplete, reaching as far as Chapter Six, Yichud ha-Sheni