Auction 83 - Part I - Rare and Important Items

Hatzaah al Odot HaGet – Venice, 1566 – Copy of Rabbi Akiva Eger

Opening: $10,000
Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000
Sold for: $21,250
Including buyer's premium

Hatzaah al Odot HaGet, regarding the Tamari-Venturozzo divorce affair and the controversy surrounding it, with letters exchanged between the rabbis, and rulings. Venice: [Giorgio di Cavalli, 1566].
Copy of R. Akiva Eger. Ownership inscription (slightly deleted) on verso of the title page, handwritten by his son: "Belongs to… the outstanding Torah scholar R. Akiva Eger of Eisenstadt, presently rabbi and dean in Märkisch Friedland [--], his son… Avraham".
Printed during the course of the Tamari-Venturozzo polemic (see below). The present book was published by the Tamari family and the rabbis of Venice who supported them. The book opens with a narrative of the affair from their point of view. This is followed by letters and rulings issued by rabbis in favor of the Tamari family, in which they express their opposition to R. Moshe Provençal and his party.
The present book was published in several stages, as described by Y. Yudlov (Bibliographical Notes on the Tamari-Venturozzo Affair, Alei Sefer, II, 1976, pp. 105-114): The first chapter (leaves 1-4) was published first, under the title She'elah al Odot HaGet. Leaves 1-4 were later reprinted with additional chapters – leaves 5-41, under the title Hatzaah al Odot HaGet (in some cases, the new leaves were added to existing copies of She'elah al Odot HaGet). 41-leaf copies can be found in Jerusalem and in the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana. In the third stage, an addition to the work was printed – leaves 42-77 (at this time leaves 39-41 were reprinted, with certain changes). Most of the known copies comprise 77 leaves. The present copy ends with leaf 77, however an error occurred during the printing of leaves 39-40: pages 39a and 40b were printed on the same leaf, while pages 39b and 40a were omitted.
R. Akiva (Güns) Eger (1761-1837), a leading Torah scholar in his times, was born in Eisenstadt to R. Moshe Güns and Gittel – daughter of the first R. Akiva Eger (rabbi of Pressburg, author of Mishnat D'Rabbi Akiva). Before he reached the age of 13, he began studying in the Breslau yeshiva under the tutelage of his uncle and teacher R. Binyamin Wolf Eger and at the age of fifteen, he was already delivering Torah lectures. After getting married in 1778, he moved to Lissa (Leszno) to the home of his father-in-law R. Itzek Margolies. In spite of his young age, he was regarded as one of the leading scholars of the city, which was the hub of Torah study at that time.
In 1792, he was appointed rabbi of Märkisch Friedland (Mirosławiec) and established a yeshiva there. In 1815, he began serving as rabbi of Posen (Poznań), a position he held over 20 years, until his passing in 1837. In Posen as well, he founded a yeshiva and taught many disciples. He was a holy person with Divine Inspiration, though supremely humble and gracious, he knew how to insist upon the honor due to the Torah and the rabbinate. He issued numerous regulations and established many public institutions. He replied to the thousands of questions addressed to him from around the world and recorded many novellae.
His descendants were also leading Torah scholars: R. Shlomo Eger (1786-1852), one of Warsaw's most influential Jews and his father's successor in the Posen rabbinate, author of Gilyon Maharsha and other books; R. Avraham Eger of Rawicz who edited his father's writings (with his own additions signed "A.A.B.H.H.", acronym of the Hebrew "Amar Avraham ben HaRav HaMechaber" [Avraham, son of the author says]); his renowned son-in-law R. Moshe Sofer, the Chatam Sofer, who after the death of his first wife, married the daughter of R. Akiva Eger (Rebbetzin Sorel, who bore him R. Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Wolf – the Ketav Sofer, and R. Shimon Sofer – rabbi of Kraków).
R. Akiva Eger devoted his entire life to Torah study and was known for his amazing proficiency and profound definitions which became basic tenets of Torah learning until our times. His books and novellae are key Torah texts for yeshiva students and poskim alike. R. Elazar Menachem Shach, author of Avi Ezri, writes in his approbation to the book Pote'ach She'arim – Teachings of R. Akiva Eger (Jerusalem, 1985) "For us, R. Akiva Eger, his opinions and reasoning are as conclusive as one of the Rishonim…".
His works include: Responsa of R. Akiva Eger, published by his sons in his lifetime, under his instruction. After his passing, his sons continued publishing his novellae in Drush VeChiddush, and additional volumes of his responsa series. Other responsa and novellae are being published until this day based on manuscripts (the books Kushiot Atzumot, Ketav VeChotam, Michtavei R. Akiva Eger and others). His various books were reprinted in many editions, including some annotated and expanded editions, which were enriched with related selections of his Torah teachings appearing in other places.
The glosses of R. Akiva Eger are valued in the yeshiva world and by Torah scholars for their perspicacity and profundity, and they invest much effort in studying them. He himself considered his glosses a composition worth publishing, as is apparent from his letters to his son R. Avraham Eger, printed at the beginning of Hagahot Rabbenu Akiva Eger, Berlin 1862. Especially renowned are his glosses to the Talmud, named Gilyon HaShas (first printed in his lifetime in the Prague and Vilna editions of the Talmud), his glosses to the Shulchan Aruch, and Tosefot R. Akiva Eger on the Mishnah. Over the years, his glosses to various books were published in later editions of those books and in Torah anthologies. R. Chaim Berlin related regarding his father, the Netziv of Volozhin: "And literally one word of R. Akiva Eger would resolve in his eyes several pages of pilpul in other books" (Meromei Sadeh, I, Jerusalem 1956, foreword).
39, 41-77 leaves. 20 cm. Good condition. Stains, including dark dampstains. Worming. Leaves trimmed close to text (affecting headings in several places). New leather binding. Placed in matching slipcase.
On p. 16b – the only mention of Hebrew printing in Rome in the 15th century (…the Rashba, as stated in his responsa printed in Rome…" – Responsa of the Rashba was printed there in ca. 1472).
Provenance: 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.

Incunabula and Early Manuscripts – 14th and 15th Centuries
Incunabula and Early Manuscripts – 14th and 15th Centuries