Auction 63 - Rare and Important Items

November 13, 2018

Leaf Handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital – Segulot and Cures for Various Matters and Practical Kabbalah – Segula for Returning to Your Pocket a Coin which you Expended

Opening: $30,000
Estimate: $40,000 - $50,000
Sold for: $37,500
Including buyer's premium
Manuscript, Segulot, cures, and various recommendations. Autograph handwritten by R. Chaim Vital. [Turn of the 17th century].
Leaf written on both sides, two columns per page. Approximately two hundred lines handwritten by R. Chaim Vital. A section of a composition on Segulot and cures authored by R. Chaim Vital.
This leaf contains many records of Segulot and cures, recommendations and incantations for various matters (such as: "To make a coin, silver or gold, which every time you spend it, will return to your pocket, take the skin of a black cat and wrap 43 coins in it, and place it under a bridge at a crossroad, leaving it there for three days…"). He mentions an important advice for writing amulets: "In order for the ink for writing amulets to not become impure, add a pinch of frankincense".
The holy kabbalist R. Chaim Vital (Maharchu) was the foremost disciple and transmitter of the teachings of the holy Arizal. He was born in 1542 in Safed, which was at the time the spiritual center for eminent and G-d fearing Torah scholars. R. Yosef Karo, author of Shulchan Aruch, led the Torah scholars of the city at that time, including the Ramak, R. Shlomo Alkabetz (author of Lecha Dodi), the Mabit, R. Moshe Alshech and others. R. Chaim Vital studied Torah from R. Moshe Alshech, leading disciple of the Beit Yosef. In his book Sefer HaChezyonot, R. Chaim Vital mentions his studies under the Alshech in 1557 (at the age of 14), and relates that R. Yosef Karo instructed his teacher R. Moshe Alshech that year, in the name of the angel who spoke to him, to be very conscientious to teach him with all his might. R. Moshe Alshech also ordained R. Chaim with the authority of the semicha he himself received from R. Yosef Karo. Concurrently, R. Chaim Vital began studying Kabbalah in the study hall of R. Moshe Cordovero, the Ramak. In 1570, R. Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal, moved from Egypt to Eretz Israel and settled in Safed. That year, the Ramak died and the Arizal succeeded him. The Arizal's eminence was recognized in Safed and R. Chaim Vital became his closest disciple and the supreme authority on the Arizal's kabbalistic teachings. For two years, R. Chaim Vital sat before the Arizal and recorded every word his teacher uttered.
The writings of R. Chaim Vital are the fundaments of the Arizal's teachings which were disseminated in later generations. The Chida relates (Shem HaGedolim, R. Chaim Vital) that R. Chaim Vital did not permit anyone to copy these writings, however once, while he was seriously ill, the kabbalists bribed his household members to give them 600 leaves of his writings, which they had copied in three days by "100 scribes". After the passing of the Arizal, R. Chaim Vital moved to Egypt. He then returned to Eretz Israel and resided for a while in Jerusalem, later moving to Damascus where he passed away in 1620. He wrote the primary teachings of the Ari in his composition Etz Chaim and in Shemona Perakim which his son Shmuel Vital arranged following his instructions. Although the Arizal authorized only R. Chaim Vital to write and explain his teachings, compositions written by his other disciples exist as well. The leading kabbalists of following generations constantly stressed that R. Chaim Vital is the supreme authority for explaining the Ari's teachings and warned not to rely on the writings of any other disciple. R. Chaim Vital himself writes in the preface to his book Etz Chaim: "Know that from the day my teacher began to reveal this wisdom, I did not leave him even for a moment. And any writings you may find in his name, which differ from that which I have written in this book, is a definite error since they did not comprehend his words…". R. Chaim Vital attempted to limit spreading the Arizal's teachings and instructed to bury many of his writings on the Arizal's teachings in his grave. Only after his passing did his writings become publicized in various forms and editions. The scholars of his times performed a "dream question", consequently removing many leaves from his grave, which served as a basis for other compositions on the Arizal's teachings (see Kabbalat HaAri by R. Yosef Avivi). The books he wrote of the Arizal's teachings include: Etz Chaim, Shemona She'arim, Otzrot Chaim, Adam Yashar, Derech Etz Chaim, Pri Etz Chaim, Shaarei Kedusha, and other.
This book of cures by R. Chaim Vital is known by several titles: Sefer HaPe'ulot, Taalumot Chochma, Sefer Kabbalah Maasit, Sefer HaRefuot, Refuot U'Segulot. This composition was not printed together with the rest of his writings. Over the years, only a few sections were printed in books of Segulot and cures. Recently, it has been printed in full (Sefer HaPe'ulot, Modiin Illit, 2010).
The Chida wrote of the greatness and holiness of R. Chaim Vital "his soul was very exceptional, and cleaner than that of all other people in his times". It is known that he foresaw many events with his divine spirit. He documented his amazing visions in his diary, which was partially printed under the name Shivchei R. Chaim Vital and was recently published in full in the book Sefer HaChezyonot.
[1] leaf. 19.5 cm. 2 pages filled with writing. Good condition. Stains and wear. Bound in a new, elaborate and ornamented leather binding.
Category
Kabbalistic Manuscripts – Including Autograph Manuscripts by Kabbalistic Luminaries