Auction 61 - Rare and Important Items

Leaf Handwritten by the Chida - From his Book Birkei Yosef - With Variations from the Printed Version

Opening: $5,000
Sold for: $12,500
Including buyer's premium
Leaf (2 pages) handwritten by the Chida, novellae on Even HaEzer, section 9.
The content has been printed in the Chida's book Birkei Yosef (Livorno 1774), however, this leaf contains many variations in comparison to the printed version.
For example: This leaf contains a flowery phrase about the Rambam: "The words were emitted from the mouth of the king the Rambam, a responsum cited in the responsa of the Maharam Elshakar…". This expression was omitted from the printed version and printed simply: "The Rambam, in a responsum cited the Maharam Elshakar …". See more examples in the Hebrew description.
The Chida - R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai (1724-1806), a leading posek, kabbalist, exalted Torah scholar, prolific author and famous rabbinical emissary. Born in Jerusalem, son of R. Raphael Yitzchak Zerachya Azulai, a Jerusalemite scholar and great-grandson of Kabbalist Rabbi Avraham Azulai, author of Chesed Le'Avraham. From his early years, he was a disciple of leading Jerusalemite scholars and kabbalists, including Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, the Or HaChaim HaKadosh. He began studying kabbalah at the Beit E-l Yeshiva for Kabbalists headed by R. Shalom Mizrachi Sharabi, the holy Rashash, and was a contemporary of R. Yom Tov (Maharit) Algazi who studied with him in the yeshiva.
In 1753, he embarked on his first mission as a rabbinical emissary on behalf of the Hebron community. During the course of his five years of travel, he passed through Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, England and France, gaining fame and attracting a great deal of attention and esteem wherever he traversed. In 1873, the Chida embarked on another mission on behalf of the Hebron community which left a profound imprint on all the places he visited. At the end of this journey, he settled in Livorno, Italy, to serve as rabbi and there he published most of his books.
The Chida was among the greatest authors of all times and composed more than 80 works in all facets of Torah, including his composition Birkei Yosef, a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch which has greatly impacted the area of halachic rulings. His books were heralded throughout the entire Jewish Diaspora with the highest deference. He wrote the majority of his compositions while preoccupied with travelling or with other matters and with access to very few books, attesting to his overwhelming genius and phenomenal memory. In each city the Chida visited, he would visit the local libraries in search of unknown manuscripts and compositions written by Torah scholars. Due to the great respect and admiration he evoked, he was granted authorization to enter large libraries and museums, such as the National Library of France, in which he spent many hours copying important manuscripts. The vast knowledge he gained during these visits was infused into all his books, and especially into his bibliographic masterpiece Shem HaGedolim.
His monumental composition Birkei Yosef particularly stands out among his works. This commentary and novellae on the Shulchan Aruch earned high acclaim and is known for its strong impact on the area of halachic rulings. He began to write the book in Hebron, however, he continued adding to it during his travels. At the beginning of his second mission, upon reaching Livorno in 1774, he brought it to print. The book quickly spread throughout the Jewish Diaspora and in the Chida's lifetime already appeared in abridged form, such as Mishpat Katuv by R. Avraham son of R. Yisrael Pinso and Kemach Solet by R. Yehuda son of R. Moshe Ali (both printed in Salonika in 1798).
[1] leaf, two pages in the handwriting of the Chida. 31 lines per page. 20.5 cm. Fair condition. Worming, partially affecting the text.
Enclosed is an expert's report identifying the handwriting as that of the Chida.