AUCTION 37 | Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 1:00
Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Graphic & Ceremonial Art

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Lot 209


Michtav…me-E[retz] Ha-K[odesh] me-Rabo[theinu] ha-K[edoshim] ["a collection of epistles of early Chassidic masters.”] Letters of R. Israel of Polotzk, R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, R. Abraham of Kalisk, R. Leib Heneles, R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi and R. Chaim Chaikel of Amdur. Spanning the years 1778-92 ff. 212-243 (i.e. ff. 32). First and final leaves frayed. Browned. Disbound. 4to

Eastern Europe: Late 19th Century

Est: $600 - $900
From their first appearance in print in 1794, these fascinating letters - which reflect both sociological conditions in the early Chassidic movement, as well as pithy theological concerns - have been reprinted several times, each edition varying slightly. Of late, Prof. Nahum Karlinsky has called into question the authenticity of the letters, demonstrating how different versions reflect varying political agendas. (See N. Karlinsky, Counter History / The Hasidic Epistles from Eretz-Israel: Text and Context (1998). See also: Ya’acov Barnai, Hasidic Letters from Eretz-Israel [Hebrew] (1980). The present manuscript demonstrates variants from the printed editions. One example: The first epistle of R. Israel Polotzker, detailing his voyage to the Land of Israel, makes mention of a leader of the Constantinople Jewish community, “R. Baruch Ananu.” Prof. Barnai points out that the actual name of the man was “Baruch Zonana.” Our ms. has a superior reading of “Zananu.” Based purely on paleography, it appears that the present manuscript emanated from Chabad circles. (Further scholarly comments relating to this manuscript accompany the Lot.)