Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

Beit Yosef Chadash (Including the Rare Leaves) - Rare Polemic Booklets Published In Favor and Against the Book – Jerusalem 1875 – Letters by Shoshana HaLevy Concerning These Polemic Booklets

Opening: $2,000
Sold for: $3,250
Including buyer's premium
• Beit Yosef HaChadash, Torah novellae in Halacha and aggada, musar and public matters. By Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger author of Lev HaIvri. Kollel Yerushalayim, [1875-1881]. The book was printed between 1875 and 1881 in two printing houses. First it was printed in Rabbi Yoel Moshe Solomon's printing house but when Rabbi Solomon saw the polemic content of the book, he refused to continue printing the rest and it was continued by "HaIvri" printing house [belonging to Rabbi Yitzchak Gaszinne]. Parts of the book were distributed before the printing was finished which caused many variations among the single copies of the books that remained. This copy of Beit Yosef Chadash has [18] leaves at its beginning which are not found in most copies including a "Kol mevaser" letter by the author, letters of approbation in support of Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger by rabbis of Jerusalem, Safed and Hebron, detailed indexes and the article Kol BaRama. The book also includes Leaves 7-9 which are missing in many copies [these leaves contain a ruling against the reform - the author's attack against the Charedi rabbis of Hungary of "Nusach Ashkenaz" who lecture in the German and Hungarian and not in Yiddish]. Also found in this copy are the last Leaves 119-144: Bedek HaBayit – Omissions and additions which were printed in 1881. [18], 2-144 leaves (without the additional title page which is found in some copies after Leaf 10), approximately 28 cm. Good-fair condition, some leaves are printed on dry paper, wear and spotting, tears and worm damages. Elaborate semi-leather binding. S. HaLevy 231. • Nitutz HaBayit, letters by rabbis and Batei Din opposing the book Beit Yosef Chadash – "Beit Yosef Chadash (literally, the new house of Yosef) built by Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger shall be destroyed and demolished and is looked upon like an affliction by all Jewish Torah scholars in the house and therefore all the rabbis have come to remove this work from all Jewish communities". Jerusalem, 1875. [1], 8 pages. 19.5 cm. Good condition. Bound among the leaves of the book Beit Yosef Chadash. S. HaLevi 232 [the listing in S. HaLevy no. 233 "about the composition…Beit Yosef Chadash", which is actually this pamphlet Nitutz HaBayit – is listed by S. HaLevy according to the copy which is lacking the title page, see the letters below]. • Three rare pamphlets which were published on this polemic: Cherev Pifiyot. [Jerusalem, 1875 – Gaszinne printing house]; with Tza'akat HaDal, a letter printed by Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger about the polemic on the book Beit Yosef Chadash; and another leaf: Ve'Ela Divrei Chevrat Ezrat Yisrael – Ashkenazim M'Chassidim U'Perushim – a printed letter supporting Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger. [Jerusalem, 1875]. [8] pages. (Without the printed cover - title page). Approximately 18 cm. Fair condition, damages to margins (with paper mounting). Shoshana HaLevy in her book (no. 232) mentions Tza'akat HaDal according to the letter by the Maharam Schick about Rabbi Akiva Yosef and she writes that she has not found a trace of the composition. These booklets do not exist in the National Library of Israel [see the enclosed article by Y. Freidman: Cherev Pifiyot and Tza'akat HaDal – lost pamphlets of the polemic of Beit Yosef Chadas – according to the copy found in the archives of the Jerusalem Municipality]. • Letters about the scarceness and the content of these pamphlets, by the bibliographers: Shoshana HaLevy [the author of Sifrei Yerushalayim HaRishonim], Dr. Ya'akov Yosef Cohen [manager of the Hebrew catalog of National Library of Israel] and Rabbi Re'uven Elizur [one of the managers of the HaRambam Library in Tel Aviv]. The correspondence was exchanged in the spring of 1976 so the details of this correspondence could not be included in the second edition of Shoshana HaLevy's book which she finished earlier in Tamuz 1975 and it was printed in mid-1976. Shoshana HaLevy writes in this letter that she cannot correct the things she wrote in the book. 6 letters, varying size, good condition. The author of the book Beit Yosef Chadash – Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger (1835-1922) author of Lev HaIvri was the son-in-law of Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein of Kolomyya, disciple of leading Hungarian rabbis and one of the most prominent zealots who fought the reform and haskala movements. In 1870, he ascended to Jerusalem, where he continued his struggle against the heretics and the "modernists". He was very active in supporting the Jewish settlements throughout Eretz Israel and fell into a sharp dispute and arguments with the leaders of the "Old Yishuv" because of his opposition to the Chaluka (distribution of money) method and concerning his stand on other affairs and polemics. In his book Beit Yosef Chadash, Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger sharply criticizes the public institutes in Jerusalem and the unfair Chaluka methods of Kollel Ungarin to which it belonged and he called to establish a new kollel, named Kollel HaIvrim, which would encourage agricultural settlements to save European Jewry endangered by assimilation and haskala. With the publication of Beit Yosef Chadash, a fierce dispute broke out. Several publications were published opposing the book, protesting the author's impertinence towards the heads of Kollel Ungarin. They ruled that the book be burnt and banned its author. Moreover, they attempted to plot against his life by slandering him before the Ottoman government. For a long while, Rabbi Akiva Yosef was afraid for his life and did not leave his home. Those who banned him performed various actions to find the books and burn them. Some who had connections with the Austrian consulate attempted to halt the delivery of the books to Jaffa by means of the Austrian post and return them to Jerusalem to be burnt. Even after they knew that the books left Eretz Israel for abroad they tried to bring them back. In Hungary, the opinions among the rabbis in regard to the book differed. Rabbi Schlesinger's teacher, Rabbi Chaim Sofer, author of Machane Chaim, who was at that time Av Beit Din of Mukacheve supported his disciple and wrote several letters to attempt to calm the disputers. But the managers of the Kollel, rabbis from Pressburg and Ungvár did not concede to support him. Even his teacher and rabbi the Maharam Schick Av Beit Din of Chust, wrote reservedly in response to a person who asked him if he should be concerned with the ban of the book Beit Yosef Chadash: "I have not seen this book and it has not come my way and although the rabbi who wrote it is known as a proper G-d fearing man, nonetheless, when I was sent the content of the book which was banned by the Beit Din in Jerusalem, I was concerned by their words…and today I have seen the pamphlet Cherev Pifiyot printed in Jerusalem with a small pamphlet printed at the end named Tza'akat HaDal by the aforementioned author who cries out that he is pursued for naught and that the slander rumored about him is false. Who can know and comprehend this. In any case, we must be concerned until the truth emerges and the matter will be clarified…" (Maharam Schick responsa, Yoreh Deah, Siman 211). In the meantime, Rabbi Akiva Yosef joined the Sephardi Torah scholars in Jerusalem and Hebron who supported him. In Cherev Pifiyot he received supportive letters from the Rabbi of Radoshkovichi and from other rabbis [who were later defamed in the booklet Shomer Yisrael]. The letters of support Rabbi Schlesinger received from the Sephardi rabbis in Eretz Israel appear at the beginning of this copy. His opponents did not spurn any means and with the continuation of the polemic they published another booklet, name Shomer Yisrael, with many claims against the book. Among them: 1. He transgressed the Cherem D'Rabbeinu Gershom, by permitting a man whose wife refused to ascend to Eretz Israel with him to marry a second wife [Rabbi Akiva Yosef responded to this claim that Rabbeinu Gershom banned a woman who was separated from her husband for over 18 months]. 2. The writer pretends to be the Messiah according to sentences in the book which were taken out of context and from quotes which the author brings in the name of Eliyahu HaNavi from Tana D'Vei Eliyahu. 3. The book was printed in a missionary printing house [a false claim as we already noted it was printed by Rabbi Yitzchak Gaszinne]. 4. The author is organizing a rebellion against the Turkish government, a claim which risked the life of the author. The struggle against Rabbi Akiva Yosef worsened and the management of Kollel Shomrei HaChomot refused to distribute the Chaluka to those who refused to sign that they join the ban. Various proclamations were published opposing him and his well-known signature "A.Y.S." was given the derogatory acronym of Ocher Yisrael (same Hebrew initials). [S.Y. Agnon used the acronym A.Y.S. many times in his book Tmol Shilshom in which he describes the character of Rabbi Akiva Yosef. The settlement Ayish near Gedera is named after Rabbi Akiva Yosef]. Finally, Rabbi Akiva Yosef reached a compromise with his opponents and they removed the ban. Interestingly, at his death, he was eulogized by Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld who was one of the heads of Kollel Ungarin. Rabbi Akiva Yosef wrote halachic novella throughout his life, some which were not accepted by the rabbis of his times such as blowing the shofar at the Kotel on Rosh Hashana which falls on Shabbat, wearing techelet in tzitzit, etc.
Rare and Important Items
Rare and Important Items