Auction 83 - Part I - Rare and Important Items

Eleh HaDevarim – The Tamari-Venturozzo Affair – Mantua, 1566

Opening: $4,000
Estimate: $6,000 - $10,000
Sold for: $5,000
Including buyer's premium

Eleh HaDevarim, on the Tamari-Venturozzo divorce affair and the controversy surrounding it, with the claims of the groom, letters exchanged between the rabbis and rulings. Mantua: [Meir son of Efraim of Padua, 1566]. Only edition.
"These matters which occurred between the young man Shmuel son of R. Moshe of Perugia, and his bride from Venice, were presented before the two great Torah scholars, R. Moshe Provençal and R. Pinchas Elia Melli of Mantua…".
Printed during the course of the Tamari-Venturozzo affair (see below), the book was published by the supporters of the groom – Shmuel son of R. Moshe of Perugia (known as Venturozzo), and therefore presents the facts from his point of view, and includes rulings issued in his favor. The book opens with a preface narrating the groom's version of the affair's development. It then brings letter exchanges between the rabbis of Mantua and other rabbis from across Italy, including testimonies, rulings and various letters pertaining to the scandal.
[46] leaves. 20 cm. Good condition. High-quality paper. Complete leaves. Stains, including several dark stains. Handwritten inscriptions. Censor's signature on final leaf. New leather binding. Placed in matching slipcase.
Provenance: The Valmadonna Trust Library.

The Tamari-Venturozzo Divorce Scandal
In the 16th century, a scandal known as the Tamari-Venturozzo affair, roused the Jewish public throughout Italy. It began as a halachic controversy over a divorce, and with time grew to involve most of the rabbis of Italy as well as some rabbis of Salonika, Constantinople and Eretz Israel. Even the clergy and government of various Italian cities were embroiled in the dispute.
The two main players in this affair were Yosef son of Moshe HaKohen Tamari – a Venetian physician, with considerable influence both in the Jewish and Catholic circles in the city, and Shmuel Shlumiel HaKatan, known as Ventura or Venturozzo – son of Moshe of Perugia. In 1560, Shmuel Venturozzo betrothed Tamar, daughter of Yosef Tamari (in those times, the Kiddushin was performed at the time of the betrothal, and they were therefore halachically considered married). Three month later, after a dispute had broke out between Venturozzo and his father-in-law, Venturozzo left Venice. He claimed that he had to flee the city since his father-in-law reported him to the authorities. In the following years, wherever he went, Venturozzo was pursued by Tamari, who demanded money Venturozzo allegedly owed him. After four years, Tamari requested the intervention of Maharam Padua. On 4th Adar 1564, Maharam Padua ruled that Venturozzo must either consummate the marriage or divorce Tamar within a month. After extensive legal proceedings, Venturozzo agreed to return to Venice and divorce his betrothed. However, the affair did not end there, since Venturozzo later contended that the divorce was extracted under duress, and was thus not valid. Both sides requested the intervention of the clerical and secular authorities of Venice, Florence, Ferrara, Mantua and other cities. The majority of Italian rabbis were involved in the dispute. Tamari was backed by the rabbis of Venice, while Venturozzo's cause was mainly advocated by R. Moshe Provençal, rabbi of Mantua. The rabbis of Venice placed a ban on Venturozzo, concurrently ruling that the divorce was valid. On the other hand, R. Moshe Provençal ruled that the divorce was invalid and that Tamari's daughter was not allowed to remarry until matters were clarified. This aroused much ire against R. Moshe Provençal, and when he refused to arrive in Venice to explain his position in person, the rabbis of Venice issued a ruling demoting him. Both parties also sent a circular to the rabbis of all Italian communities, thus drawing more rabbis into the affair. From amongst the rabbis of Eretz Israel, R. Moshe Provençal earned the support of R. Yosef Karo and the rabbis of Safed, while R. David ben Zimra (the Radbaz) joined the rabbis of Venice. Each party printed leaflets and books supporting their position, and publicized the rulings of the rabbis on their side.
Offered here are three books printed during the course of the affair, in 1566: Hatzaah al Odot HaGet (item 14), printed in Venice by Tamari's party (originally printed in installments, later gathered together as a book), the book Eleh HaDevarim printed in Mantua by Venturozzo's party (item 12), and Biur Zeh Yatza Rishonah – the ruling of R. Moshe Provençal, also printed in Mantua (item 13).
For more details on the affair, see: S. Simonson, The Scandal of the Tamari-Venturozzo Divorce, in Tarbiz, Vol. 28 (1959), pp. 375-388 and in History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua (Hebrew), II, Jerusalem 1965, pp. 364-367; Y. Yudlov, Bibliographical Notes on the Tamari-Venturozzo Affair, in Alei Sefer, Vol. 2 (1976), pp. 114-115; E. Kupfer, Further Clarifications Concerning the Tamari-Venturozzo Divorce Scandal, in Tarbiz, Vol. 38 (1969), pp. 54-59; R. Tz. Gertner, Parashat HaGet Tamari-Venturozzo – New Discoveries from the Beit Midrash of the Beit Yosef, Moriah, year 16, Iyar 1988, p. 9 onwards.

Early Books - 16th Century