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Lot 47

Meir Netivim, Two Parts – By Rabbi Meir Margolies, Disciple of the Baal Shem Tov – Polonne, 1791-1792 – First Edition – Copy Owned by the Grandsons of the Author, Including an Unknown Grandson

Or Olam – Meir Netivim, two parts. Part I – responsa, Part II – pilpul, homily and allusions on the Torah, by R. Meir Margolies Rabbi of the Lviv region and Ostroh, a leading disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. Polonne, [1791-1792]. First edition. With approbations by prominent Chassidic leaders – R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, R. Zusha of Anipoli and the Ohev Yisrael of Apta. Includes novellae by R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, printed at the beginning of the book.
Two parts in two volumes. Copies owned by the grandsons of the author.
Signature on the title page of Part I: "...Yehoshua son of R. Betzalel Rabbi of Ostroh and the region" (R. Betzalel Rabbi of Ostroh was the son of the Meir Netivim, thus the signee is his grandson, see below). Another signature of his on p. 10a, using the page numeral: "[Ye]hoshua son of the great rabbi".
Ownership inscription (in pencil) on p. 91b: "This responsa book by the Meir Netivim belongs to R. Moshe Klarfeld, who was a commissioner in Derazhnya for twenty-eight years... as stated in his books...". In part II, p. 48a, there is a gloss with his signature (trimmed): "It also appears to me... to say... grandson of the [author], Moshe Kla[rfeld]".
The author, R. Meir Margolies (1700/1708-1790), a prominent rabbi in his times, was a leading disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, and one of the first to cleave to him, even before the Baal Shem Tov became famous. R. Meir is considered a "colleague-disciple" of the Baal Shem Tov and mentions him in several places as "my teacher" and "my friend". In his book Sod Yachin UBoaz (Ostroh, 1794), he writes of "my teachers, prominent in Torah and Chassidut, headed by my friend the pious R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov... and from my youth, when I attached myself with bonds of love to my teacher and friend R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov... I knew with absolute certainty that his conduct was in holiness and purity, piety and ascetism... occult matters were revealed to him...". His son R. Betzalel, who succeeded him as rabbi of Ostroh, writes in his approbation to the book Shivchei HaBaal Shem Tov (Berdichev 1815 edition): " I heard from my father... who from his youth was part of the holy entourage of the Baal Shem Tov, and R. Meir would frequently speak in his praise...". See item 67 for an extended biography.
The Meir Netivim was a prolific author in both revealed and kabbalistic realms of the Torah, in halachah and in homily. After his passing, his writings were arranged and published by his sons. The series of his books was named Or Olam. This book – Meir Netivim, two parts, was his first book to be published. The book opens with enthusiastic approbations by prominent Chassidic leaders, including R. Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, R. Zusha of Anipoli and the Ohev Yisrael of Apta. The foreword contains novellae by R. Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev on Tractate Pesachim. The sons of the author relate to this in the foreword (p. 4b), writing that they deemed it fitting to mention some of the Torah novellae of R. Levi Yitzchak, since he had a special affection for this holy composition. The final eight leaves of the book contain novellae on Tractate Berachot by the author's brother, R. Yitzchak Dov Ber Margolies Rabbi of Yazlovetz, close disciple of the Baal Shem Tov.
One of the signatories on this book is R. Yehoshua son of R. Betzalel Margolies, grandson of the author. He is unknown to the biographers of the Meir Netivim and his son R. Betzalel. These signatures are the first known mention of his name. He was presumably named after his mother's father – R. Yehoshua Rishver of Drohobitch (see: Mazkeret LiGedolei Ostroh, p. 273; Elef Margaliot, p. 28).
The second signatory, R. Moshe Eliezer HaKohen Klarfeld (son of R. Yosef HaKohen) of Derazhnya (Podolia), was a descendant of the Meir Netivim (presumably the grandson of one of his sons-in-law). He frequented the courts of the rebbes of Shtefanesht and Chortkov. In 1902, he edited and printed in Berdichev his grandfather's book Sod Yachin UBoaz. He also authored the book Sefiach Katzir (Berdichev 1902). At the end of the preface to his book, he writes about himself: "...and until now I have resided for twenty-eight years in Derazhnya, Podolia, near the railway lines, and I have trod these tracks for twenty-eight years for my livelihood, as a commissioner...". These words enlighten the contents of the ownership inscription here (in which the writer refers to this preface).
Two volumes. Part I: 30, 33-97 leaves (leaf following title page may have been supplied from a different copy). Part II: [1], 3-56 leaves. 31 cm. Good condition. Dampstains. Worming. Tears to title page of part I and to subsequent leaf, repaired with paper. Tear to leaf 30 of part I, affecting text. Upper margins of part II trimmed, affecting headings of most pages, and affecting first line of text on leaves 45-46. New leather bindings.