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Lot 72

Machzor with Hundreds of Kabbalistic Glosses Handwritten by the Ramchal – This Machzor Served the Ramchal While Leading the Prayers of the Ashkenazi Community in Padua – Kabbalistic Explanations and Kavanot for the High Holiday Prayers

Machzor Shaar Bat Rabim, Part II – Prayers for the High Holidays, "following the rite of the holy Ashkenazi community", with the Hadrat Kodesh commentary, by R. Yitzchak son of R. Yaakov Yosef HaLevi. Venice: Bragadin, [1712-1715].
Hundreds of glosses, including dozens of especially long glosses, in Italian cursive script, in the handwriting of the Ramchal, R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto - Kabbalistic explanations and kavanot conforming to the Ramchal's approach.
The Ramchal used this machzor while leading the prayers at the Ashkenazi synagogue in Padua, and in it he wrote the kavanot and yichudim necessary for performing tikunim and yichudim in the upper spheres while standing in prayer.
This machzor with the Ramchal's glosses was documented by his biographers, citing Padua elders who reported that "the Ramchal was chazzan in the Ashkenazi synagogue for the High Holiday prayers, and he therefore wrote many Kabbalistic notations in his machzor for those days, for use while praying" (see below).
The Ramchal wrote the commentaries and kavanot in the margins and between the lines of the machzor. In the margins, he wrote long passages with introductions to the kavanot, explaining the general idea of the prayer or piyyut according to esoteric Kabbalistic thought. These introductions begin with the words "Inyan" (matter) or "Sod" (secret), for example: "The Inyan of the Books of the Living and the Books of the Dead", "The Sod of the Kedusha", "The Sod of Aleinu", "The Inyan of Kol Nidrei", "The Inyan of the Vidui", etc. These passages are particularly long and are actually self-contained essays based on the Kabbalistic approach of the Ramchal. Between the lines, the Ramchal wrote hundreds of kavanot to the words of the prayers, mostly written above the relevant words (but sometimes also beside or below the words).
The Ramchal wrote the kavanot and glosses to the following prayers: Mussaf for the first and second days of Rosh Hashanah, the Arvit prayer, Mussaf and Ne'ila of Yom Kippur. He did not annotate the Shacharit and Mincha prayers. This is due to the fact that following the Ashkenazi custom, the Mussaf prayers and the Arvit and Ne'ila prayers on Yom Kippur, which are the central prayers, are led by the choicest chazzan. The Ramchal used this machzor to lead those prayers, and he therefore wrote in it the kavanot that he would use when filling this role.
Interestingly, the Ramchal marked special te'amim (cantillation marks) above some of the words in the machzor, similar to those in the scriptures alluding to the melody, attesting to the fact that he used this machzor in his capacity as chazzan (these te'amim can be seen in the Aleinu prayer [p. 131a], in the Kol Nidrei prayer [p. 198b], etc.). Another sign that he led the prayers are the kavanot that he wrote to the last verses of the piyyutim, repeated out loud by the cantor alone.
In the margins of p. 122b, the Ramchal writes a special prayer that he composed for his success as chazzan (similar to the style of the Hineni HeAni prayer), describing at length his humbleness and trembling before G-d, and requesting that G-d strengthen him, heed his prayers and bless the Jewish People with "a good sweet year, a year of compassion, redemption and deliverance… and strengthen me to sing before you and no harm or mishap should befall me…". In a long gloss on p. 131b, the Ramchal explains at length the Kabbalistic secret of the potency of the chazzan's prayer.
In R. Yosef Almanzi's biography of the Ramchal (Kerem Chemed, 3), he writes of the Ramchal being chazzan during the High Holidays in the Padua community and explicitly mentions this machzor: "An elder of our community says that he heard from his father or from his grandfather that the Ramchal was chazzan in the Ashkenazi synagogue for the High Holiday prayers, and he therefore wrote many Kabbalistic notations in his machzor for those days, for use while praying" (ibid, p. 115). Almanzi also writes of "a commentary in the actual handwriting of the Ramchal to the machzor… which is in the possession of my beloved dignitaries, heirs of R. Moshe Aryeh Trieste, apparently like the elders related that the Ramchal was chazzan in the Ashkenazi synagogue and led some of the High Holiday prayers" (ibid, p. 140, note 42).
Most of the kavanot in the machzor (with the exception of those to Birkat Avot which are the kavanot of the Arizal) are exclusive to the Ramchal and to his Kabbalistic approach. Where the commentary features the Ramchal's own approach and is not based on the Ari's writings, the Ramchal added an introduction or explanation in the margin, illuminating the basis of the kavanot written between the lines. In addition, the Ramchal explains sections of the Ashkenazi piyyutim according to his Kabbalistic approach, and above the words of the piyyutim notes allusions and their parallels in upper worlds – a unique and original phenomenon.
Most of the glosses of the Ramchal are written in a clear, neat script in black ink. In a number of places, the Ramchal's glosses are written in a vigorous, cursive script in reddish-brown ink.
Most of the commentaries and the kavanot written by the Ramchal in this machzor were not copied by his disciples, and remained unknown until the discovery of this machzor. Nonetheless, a few of these glosses were copied and printed, some in Kitzur HaKavanot by R. Yisrael Chizkiya Treves and others in "Commentary on the piyyutim of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur according to Kabbalah" (printed in the Warsaw 1889 edition of Daat Tevunot). One gloss was printed only in part. Upon studying p. 127b of this machzor, we discover that the Ramchal wrote this passage in two parts on two different occasions. The first part is written in dark ink and the end in lighter ink, and only the first part was copied and printed by his disciples. Evidently, the Ramchal first wrote the beginning and his disciples copied that part, and later, the Ramchal completed his commentary and wrote the second part, which does not appear in the copy made by his disciples.
This machzor served the Ramchal while leading the prayers, and contains hundreds of his handwritten glosses. In the machzor, he marked with te'amim the melodies he would use, and he wrote kavanot for when standing before G-d, to make tikunim and yichudim in the upper spheres.
R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto – the Ramchal (1707-1746), Torah luminary and great Kabbalist, merited revelations of Eliyahu HaNavi and angels, and his book Zohar Tinyana contains their teachings. He authored Mesillat Yesharim and many other Kabbalistic and ethical works. Due to the polemic opposing the Ramchal's teachings, he was compelled to hide away some of his kabbalistic writings. This composition in his very own handwriting remarkably survived and was discovered in recent years.
Large-format volume. Fine, impressive condition. 372, 377-384 leaves. 35 cm. Thick high-quality paper. Wide margins. Good condition. Most leaves are clean, with a few stains. Dark stains to several leaves. Dampstains on last leaves. Repaired tears to title page and to a few other leaves. Worming to a few leaves. Early leather binding, repaired. Ownership inscription in Ashkenazi script on the inner side of the front cover. Gilt-tooled binding with the initials G.W. inside a medallion. Damage to binding, lacking clasps.
The glosses of the Ramchal in the machzor were unexpectedly discovered by R. Yosef Avivi, some 20 years ago. He edited and published them under the name Machzor Ramchal (Jerusalem 1995), including a facsimile of the leaves of the machzor containing glosses and a comprehensive introduction containing many details and comparisons to the Ramchal's Kabbalistic approach apparent in his other writings. The description above is based on Avivi's work in that book, see there for more details and information.