Auction 63 - Rare and Important Items

November 13, 2018

Manuscript, Otzrot Chaim – Aleppo, 17th Century – Glosses Handwritten by Rabbi Yosef Irgas, Author of Shomer Emunim HaKadmon, and Glosses of Aleppo and Italian Kabbalists

Opening: $15,000
Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000
Manuscript, Otzrot Chaim by R. Chaim Vital [Aleppo, second half of the 17th century]. Glosses by Kabbalists from Aleppo and Italy, including glosses of the famed Kabbalist R. Yosef Irgas, with several signatures: "Ot Hi" [alluding to the initials of Yosef Irgas].
Oriental script, with marginalia in various handwritings.
This manuscript had apparently been copied in Aleppo in the 17th century by the scribe of R. Chaim HaCohen, disciple of R. Chaim Vital, author of Tur Bareket. This is an early manuscript of the book Otzrot Chaim. In the manuscript, the scribe integrated the glosses of his teacher, R. Chaim Cohen, on Otzrot Chaim (in "windows"). These glosses have not been found in any other manuscript.
This manuscript was in the possession of several Kabbalists. First in Aleppo, it was in the hands of an unknown Kabbalist named R. Saadia son of R. Baruch Mizrachi. His glosses appear in a number of places in the manuscript, two with his signature (p. 43b: "Sa'adia said" and on p. 46b: "And so it seems in my lowly opinion [acronym] Sa'adia"). Likewise, an inscription in his handwriting with the names of the ten sefirot appears on the front binding.
From Aleppo, evidently this manuscript reached Italy and on its sheets are glosses of several unidentified Kabbalists (one signed: "Zecher Rav [acronym]. These glosses primarily contain copies of notations by R. Natan Shapira (signed: "It seems in my lowly opinion, N. [acronym]"), R. Moshe Zacuto (signed "Kol HaRemez"), and his disciple R. Binyamin HaCohen (signed: "Bach" [acronym]).
This manuscript was also in the possession of the renowned Kabbalist R. Yosef Irgas, author of Shomer Emunim HaKadmon and he added to it, especially to the first leaves, dozens of glosses. Among other notations, R. Yosef also copied glosses of R. Yosef ibn Tabul and glosses of his disciples, R. Yisrael Binyamin (Maharib) and R. Shmuel ben Sid, and copied glosses of his teachers, the Rabach and the Remez. In addition, R. Yosef Irgas wrote his own original glosses and signed them "Ot Hi" [acronym of his name]. The handwriting of these glosses has been identified as belonging to R. Yosef Irgas by comparison to his known handwriting in several other places, particularly in his composition Shomer Emunim in the Moscow manuscript (Ginzburg 354). A piece of paper in R. Yosef's handwriting was bound between Leaves 8 and 9, containing another gloss bearing his signature. On the endpaper (lacking a section), is a remnant of an inscription in his handwriting: "…named Otzrot Chaim because the treasure of life is hidden therein because it explains the sayings of the Zohar called the 'tree of life [chaim]'".
The Kabbalist R. Yosef Irgas (1685-1730) was a notable Italian kabbalist, author of Shomer Emunim HaKadmon, disciple of Kabbalist R. Binyamin HaCohen, the Rabach. Rabbi of Pisa, he established the Neve Shalom Yeshiva before moving to officiate as Rabbi of Livorno (where he was born). R. Malachi HaCohen, author of Yad Malachi was among his leading disciples. His renowned composition Shomer Emunim (first printed in Amsterdam 1738) became a basic text of Kabbalistic wisdom. Besides that composition, he wrote other books as well. In his struggle against the Sabbatean Nechemia Hayun, he wrote the polemic composition Tochachat Megula V'Hatzad Nachash. After R. Aharon Roth wrote a book similarly titled Shomer Emunim, R. Irgas' book was customarily dubbed HaKadmon to differentiate between the two.
97 leaves. 20 cm. Fair condition. Stains. Frequent worming, affecting text. Detached leaves. Early leather binding, detached and damaged.
Written according to an expert's report, enclosed.
Kabbalistic Manuscripts – Including Autograph Manuscripts by Kabbalistic Luminaries