Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

Letter of Guidance by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin – Original Copy in the Handwriting of his Disciple Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant

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Handwritten leaf, a letter of guidance written by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin to his grandson in honor of his marriage, in the handwriting of his great disciple, the tsaddik Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant. At the beginning of the leaf he writes "A Letter from Rabbi …Chaim of Volozhin to his grandson".
This letter with guidance in the manner of proper Torah study and ethical conduct was first printed from this manuscript in the book HaTsaddik Rabbi Yosef Zundel M’salant V'Rabbotav (Jerusalem 1927), p. 116. Recently, it has even been printed with an extensive commentary in a separate book named Igeret Rabbeinu Chaim M'Volozhin (published by Machon Yerushalayim, Sivan 2011). The original manuscript has minor variations due to mistakes while copying the letter for printing in 1927.
We will quote several well-known passages of this letter which portray the wisdom and methods of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin in Torah study and humble conduct:
"Be eager to study with alacrity and great enthusiasm, because that which one studies lazily a whole day can be studied with alacrity in a few hours and your thoughts should always be of Torah learning…".
"The primary thing is to have straight hypothesis (svara)…all the great early and later Torah authorities were only revered for their straight hypotheses and the straighter the thoughts the greater the Torah scholar…".
"…To your mother-in-law and to the women of your house, give their due respect, and have no grievance in your heart against any other person… By the attribution of patience a person attains his desire much more than by all the toughness in the world…".
Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant (1787-1866), the great disciple of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin studied in his youth in the Volozhin Yeshiva. The head of the yeshiva discerned his good qualities, and he became one of his closest disciples. To these disciples, Rabbi Chaim transmitted all the ways of conduct of his great rabbi, the Vilna Gaon in revealed and hidden Torah. Thereafter, Rabbi Zundel was called “The third mouth of Eliyahu”. Rabbi Chaim was his close teacher and in all Rabbi Zundel’s writings he is mentioned by the name Admor (my Master, my Teacher and my Rabbi) and he called the Vilna Gaon “The Great Rabbi”. He wrote what he learned from their Torah and their conduct and all his many writings contain many copies and writings of their Torah teachings. Part of his treasury of writings were printed in the book HaTsaddik Rabbi Yosef Zundel M’Salant V’Rabbotav (Jerusalem 1927), which includes his history, his writings and the writings of his teachers, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin and the Vilna Gaon.
He was the close teacher of Rabbi Yisrael of Salant. Rabbi Yosef Zundel is considered the father of the Musar Movement since he guided Rabbi Yisrael of Salant to study musar and to teach it to the multitudes. Many stories are told of his special conduct of chesed and humility.
He ascended to Jerusalem in 1838 and was one of the prominent leaders and rabbis of the settlement together with his son-in-law Rabbi Shmuel of Salant who immigrated to Jerusalem in 1831. His other sons-in-law were Rabbi Neta Natkin and Rabbi Uri Shabtai of Salant who served as rabbi and dayan in Jerusalem.
Leaf, 16 cm. Approximately 25 handwritten lines, good condition, slight creases. Housed in a particularly elaborate leather case with gilt impressions and impressed adornments, with glass window for safety.
Enclosed is an authorization by an expert identifying the handwriting. Also enclosed is the printed booklet of Igeret Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (second edition, Jerusalem 2012).
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Rare and Important Items