Auction 92 Part 1 Rare and Important Items

Avodat Yisrael (Kozhnitz) – Józefów, 1842 – First Edition – With the Original (Uncensored) Leaf 9 and Rare Leaf of Approbations (Approbation by the Divrei Chaim of Sanz)

Opening: $2,000
Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000
Sold for: $6,000
Including buyer's premium

Avodat Yisrael, Chassidic and kabbalistic essays on the Torah portions, Haftarot and festivals; two letters; Chassidic commentary on Tractate Avot and Talmudic novellae on Tractate Chullin; by R. Yisrael Hopstein, the Maggid of Kozhnitz. [Józefów: David Saadia Yeshaya Wax, 1842]. First edition.
Leaf 9, which contains references to non-Jews, was censored during printing, as discovered in Kedem Auction 53, item 33 (a copy where the omitted sentences were added in handwriting). The original text was never printed in any of the many subsequent editions of Avodat Yisrael. In most known copies of the first edition, leaf 9 was printed in a slightly different typography and on different paper than the rest of the book, without the aforementioned references. The present copy contains the original, uncensored leaf, with the original wording of the Maggid of Kozhnitz.
This copy also contains a rare leaf, not present in most copies, with three approbations by prominent Chassidic leaders: R. Mordechai David of Dombrowa, the Aryeh D'Vei Ila'i R. Aryeh Leib Lipschitz, and the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. In his famous approbation, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz attests: "In my opinion, there is no one in our generation capable of grasping his [the Maggid of Kozhnitz's] wisdom". These three approbations are not found in most copies of the first edition (they were presumably brought to the printer only after the printing of the book was completed), and were never printed again until the Bnei Brak 1965 edition.
The author, R. Yisrael Hopstein, known as the Maggid of Kozhnitz, (1733/1737-1814) was a holy kabbalist and founder of Chassidut in Poland. He was renowned as an outstanding, profound and innovative Torah scholar. He was a close disciple of the Maggid of Mezeritch, R. Elimelech of Lizhensk, and R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. In 1765, he began serving as maggid in Kozhnitz. Thousands of Chassidim streamed to his door, and he became known as one of the leading rebbes in Poland. His renowned disciples include R. Yitzchak Meir Alter, the Chiddushei HaRim, who was raised in his home. The Maggid of Kozhnitz authored many books in all Torah fields, including halachah, novellae, homiletics and kabbalah, and was considered one of the leading kabbalists in his times. He was renowned for his tremendous knowledge of all kabbalistic works. Reputedly, already in his youth, before he began frequenting the court of the Maggid of Mezeritch, he had studied some eight hundred kabbalistic works. Some of his kabbalistic compositions are explanations of early kabbalistic books, as well as the books of the Maharal of Prague.
Avodat Yisrael was published 27 years after the passing of its author, and it is the first of his books to be published (a few of his essays were printed in his lifetime). Avodat Yisrael is considered a classic Chassidic work. Rebbe Yechezkel Halberstam of Shinova stated: "All the books of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov are holy, while the book Avodat Yisrael is holy of holies". The Torat Chaim, rebbe of Kosov declared that one must study this book in great depth, just like one studies the Zohar. Reputedly, R. Yitzchak Eizik of Zidichov held the books of the Maggid of Kozhnitz in very high esteem, and when he received the book Avodat Yisrael, "he experienced tremendous joy", and exclaimed to the person who brought it to him that had he known he was coming to bring him the book, he would have come to meet him to welcome the book "due to his cherishing the holiness of the book".
Signature on the title page: "Yosef son of Freida ---".

[4], 90; 32 leaves. Lacking first title page (originally printed with two title pages). 21 cm. Partially printed on bluish paper. Good-fair condition. Stains, including several dark stains and wax stains. Marginal open tears to title page and several other leaves, not affecting text. Upper margin of title page trimmed. Minor worming. Stamps. New, elegant leather binding.

Chassidic and Kabbalistic Books