Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

Rosh Responsa – Venice, 1552 – Glosses in the Handwriting of the Author of Pri Chadash

Opening: $5,000
Sold for: $6,250
Including buyer's premium
Responsa by Rabbeinu Asher (the Rosh). Venice, 1552. Bragadin printing. Second edition.
Several glosses signed in Sephardi handwriting, "Asher HaLevi". Inscriptions on the title page that the book is "Dedicated to the [Beit] Midrash Gedulat Mordechai" [the Gedulat Mordechai Yeshiva was established in Jerusalem in the mid-17th century by the philanthropist Mordechai Talek. Rabbi Shem Tov Gabai and Rabbi Yonah Navon, author of Nechpa BaKesef, stood at its helm. They studied earlier in the Beit Ya'akov Yeshiva of Ya'akov Firira and the Knesset Yisrael Yeshiva of the author of Or HaChaim HaKadosh. This yeshiva continued until the 1860s and one of its heads was Rabbi Avraham Asher HaLevi, 1835-1885]. On Leaf 39/a are two scholarly glosses on the laws of "meshumad", in a handwriting [Italian-Sephardic writing, characteristic to the Livorno region] identified by experts as the handwriting of Rabbi Chizkiya di Silva, author of Pri Chadash.
Rabbi Chizkiya di Silva (1656-1695) was born in Livorno, Italy and ascended to Jerusalem in 1676 at the age of 20. He studied in the yeshiva of Rabbi Moshe Galanti (the Rav HaMagen) and the Chida recounted that he heard from his disciple, author of Batei Kehuna, that "on the first day he went to the yeshiva of Harav HaMagen he postulated with much wisdom and spoke with extensive proficiency". It was not long before he was appointed head of the yeshiva. He also influenced the philanthropist Rabbi Ya'akov Firira to allocate financial aid to the yeshiva and thereafter the yeshiva was called Beit Ya'akov Firira [this yeshiva continued to exist for over 150 years]. Some of his great disciples are Rabbi Yitzchak HaCohen author of Batei Kehuna, Rabbi Shlomo Algazi (the second) and Rabbi Yeshaya Azulai, the Chida's grandfather.
In 1688, he was sent by Rabbi Moshe Galanti on a public mission to Western Europe. The Amsterdam community received him with great honor and generously supported his cause. Rabbi Moshe Hagiz relates that he saw in the notebook of the Amsterdam Sephardic community that they allocated the large sum of 600 'lions' for Rabbi Galanti's mission and "that was because he really was a great expert and erudite and perfect in Torah learning'. The Amsterdam community also negotiated with him to accept the position of rabbi of the community succeeding Rabbi Yitzchak Abuhab who was already a very old man. Rabbi Chizkiya stayed in Amsterdam until 1692 and printed his book Pri Chadash on Yoreh Deah during this stay.
After his book was printed, Rabbi Chizkiya’s halachic teachings were greatly revered throughout European countries. On his return journey to Jerusalem he passed through Egypt and the Torah scholars in Egypt were very critical of the daring of such a young Torah scholar who disagreed with the leading Torah authorities of previous generations and they decided (together with two Hebron scholars) to ban studying from Rabbi Chizkiya’s books and ruled that the books should be buried. For decades, this agreement of the Torah scholars of Egypt was binding as brought in the Ginat Egoz responsa (Yoreh Deah, Klal 3, 3). The Chida in his book Shem HaGedolim recounts that the decision was repealed only when Rabbi Shlomo Algazi, the close disciple of the Pri Chadash whose Torah was based on the teachings of his rabbi came to Egypt to serve in the rabbinate and the Chida concludes “Today all Jewish scholars thirstily drink his words “.
Rabbi Chizkiya’s compositions on the Shulchan Aruch were printed in many editions of the Shulchan Aruch. In addition, he wrote the book Mayim Chaim on the Talmud and on the Rambam and the booklet D’vei Shimsha on matters pertaining to “bein hashemashot” (twilight). Rabbi Chizkiya died before he reached the age of forty but even at that young age he was recognized as one of the leading scholars of his times. His deep Torah thoughts which he had written determined his status for generation as one of the most prominent poskim of all times.
157 leaves (missing last leaf, Leaf 158), 28 cm. Fair condition. Spotting and mildew. Wear and few worm holes. Colored paper binding, ancient leather spine, with inscription “Klale HaRosh”.
Enclosed is an authorization by experts identifying the handwriting as that of Rabbi Chizkiya di Silva, author of Pri Chadash.
Rare and Important Items