Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

She'iltot – Venice, 1546 – Glosses of the Kabbalist Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach – Signature of Rabbi Moshe Galante, the First Rishon LeTzion

Opening: $10,000
Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Sold for: $12,500
Including buyer's premium
She'iltot of R. Achai Gaon, on the Five Books of the Torah. [Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1546].
Copy of R. Moshe Galante – HaRav HaMagen (first Rishon LeTzion), with glosses handwritten by the kabbalist R. Yaakov Tzemach.
Signature of R. Moshe son of R. Yehonatan Galante on leaf 2, within the frame surrounding the initial word "Bereshit".
Marginal glosses handwritten by the kabbalist R. Yaakov Tzemach, most of them signed (as he was accustomed to, at the beginning of the gloss): "Tzemach". The present volume contains over fifteen glosses, mostly trimmed; eight of which are signed.
Additional inscriptions on leaf 2: "To the rabbi, son of Asher" (this may be referring to R. Avraham ibn Asher, a Jerusalem Torah scholar, who travelled as emissary together with R. Yitzchak Zerachia Azulai); trimmed inscription in the margin about the birth of a son named Moshe; unidentified calligraphic signatures, partly trimmed ("Moshe ---").
Signatures in the historiated initial words of each book of the Torah: "Sr. Rafael de Picciotto". The de Picciotto family were known as wealthy philanthropists, who held consular positions for European countries in Aleppo and other places (several members of the family were named Rafael). Inscription on leaf 35: "This Imrei Shefer belongs to the Marpeh LaNefesh yeshiva" (yeshiva founded in 1797 by Sr. Rafael Picciotto and his representative R. Yom Tov Algazi; see: Shevet VeAm, VII, p. 168).
HaRav HaMagen – R. Moshe son of R. Yehonatan Galante, author of Zevach Shelamim and Korban Chagigah (1620-1689). Born in Safed, he was named after his grandfather, R. Moshe Galante the first. He studied under the Safed Torah scholars, later relocating to Jerusalem where he established his Beit Midrash. His leading disciples were: his brother-in-law, R. Moshe ibn Habib (who succeeded him as Rishon LeTzion), his son-in-law R. Yisrael Yaakov Hagiz author of Halachot Ketanot and his grandson R. Moshe Hagiz, R. Chizkiyah da Silva author of Pri Chadash, R. Avraham Yitzchaki, and others. Many of his disciples later served as rabbis of Jerusalem. R. Moshe Galante was the leading rabbi of Jerusalem at a time when it was home to eighty-seven outstanding Torah scholars (see Shem HaGedolim by the Chida on R. Moshe Galante). He was the first to carry the title of Rishon LeTzion. Reputedly, all the Torah scholars in the city bowed to his authority and deferred to his Torah knowledge, yet in his great humility he refused to carry the title of Rabbi of Jerusalem, he was therefore only referred to as Rishon LeTzion, and this is the title given since then to the chief rabbi of Jerusalem (Frumkin, Toldot Chachmei Yerushalayim, part II, pp. 57-58).
R. Yaakov Tzemach (1584?-1667), a G-dly kabbalist, leading transmitter of the teachings of the Arizal as explained in the writings of R. Chaim Vital, and foremost compiler and editor of the writings of the Arizal. He was the disciple of R. Shmuel Vital. Born to a family of Marranos in Lisbon, Portugal, he studied medicine there and became an expert physician (as the Chida describes him in his entry in Shem HaGedolim). In Portugal, he lived as a Marrano. At the age of 30, he moved to Salonika, where he started observing Judaism openly and studying Torah. In ca. 1619, he immigrated to Safed, where he began applying himself to Torah study with extraordinary diligence, living a life of deprivation with scant sleep. He spent six years studying the entire Talmud, Rambam, Tur with Beit Yosef, and all the books of the Levush. At the end of this period, he began dedicating his nights and Fridays to the study of Kabbalah. He later devoted all his energy and time to acquiring manuscripts of the writings of the Arizal, editing them, compiling them in various formats and correcting them. He is renowned for his books Kol BeRama – commentary on the Idra, and Nagid UMetzaveh – compilation of the Arizal's practices in Mitzvah observance. He relocated to Damascus in ca. 1625-1630, where he studied Kabbalah under R. Shmuel Vital. Every Shabbat, he would sit in his teacher's home studying the original manuscript of Etz HaChaim, handwritten by R. Chaim Vital. In 1640, he returned to Eretz Israel, and lived in Jerusalem until his passing. While in Jerusalem, he obtained the buried manuscripts of R. Chaim Vital – the Mahadura Batra writings, which even his son R. Shmuel Vital did not have access to (these writings were buried upon the instructions of R. Chaim Vital in the Safed cemetery, and were exhumed decades later by "holy rabbis of the generation, through yichudim… with his consent in a dream question" – Shem HaGedolim by the Chida, Chet, 21). In light of these discoveries, R. Yaakov Tzemach began rearranging all the writings of the Arizal. He composed over twenty works, mostly on kabbalah, but also on revealed parts of the Torah. Approximately half of them have as yet not been published. The most renowned books of the teachings of the Arizal, such as Otzrot Chaim, Kehillat Yaakov, Adam Yashar and others, were published based on the redactions by R. Yaakov Tzemach and his disciple R. Meir Poppers. These works were widely distributed and the leading kabbalists of subsequent generations studied the Arizal's kabbalah through them.
The son of R. Yaakov, R. Avraham Tzemach, was a Torah scholar in Jerusalem who served as dayan in the Beit Din of R. Moshe Galante. This book may have been passed on by him from R. Yaakov Tzemach to R. Moshe Galante. The book later reached the wealthy Rafael Picciotto and the Marpeh LaNefesh yeshiva which he founded in Jerusalem.
2-30, 32-46, 48-62 leaves (originally: 62 leaves). Lacking title page and leaves 31 and 47. 26 cm. Fair condition. Stains, including dampstains. Worming, affecting text. Tears and open tears to first leaf, affecting text, repaired with sellotape. Leaves trimmed close to text in several places. Without binding.
Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures – Italian and Sephardi Rabbis
Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures – Italian and Sephardi Rabbis