Auction 71 - The Collection of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber

May 5, 2020
Lot 1

Shenei Luchot HaBrit (Shelah) – Amsterdam, 1698 ("Nachat") – The Year the Baal Shem Tov was Born – Copy of the Gaon of Brașov, with Many Glosses in his Handwriting

Opening: $1,500
Sold for: $4,000
Including buyer's premium

Shenei Luchot HaBrit (Shelah), by R. Yeshaya HaLevi Horowitz. Amsterdam: Immanuel son of Josef Athias, 1698. Illustrated title page (by Avraham ben Yaakov HaGer).
Shenei Luchot HaBrit contains many halachic novellae, Kabbalistic principles, homiletics and ethics, and incorporates all realms of the Torah. The book was received with awe throughout the Jewish world, and its teachings are quoted in the books of leading poskim and kabbalists. Many renowned Chassidic leaders were extremely devoted to the study of the books of the Shelah.
The Bach – R. Yoel Sirkis, notably acclaimed the author and his works in his approbation to the Shaar HaShamayim siddur: "R. Yeshaya HaLevi… he left behind blessing in his holy compositions, and upon seeing or reading them, we sensed the outpouring of holiness in all our limbs, and this is the sign that his works were composed for the sake of heaven, to elevate future generations…". The Tosafot Yom Tov in his approbation to the siddur writes: "He is a holy, awe-inspiring man… no doubt he was invested with a heavenly spirit".
This edition of the Shelah was printed in Amsterdam in 1698, the year the Baal Shem Tov was born, and Chassidic lore ties these two events. The Rebbe Rayatz of Lubavitch writes (Igrot, 2853) of the elaborate edition of the book Shelah HaKadosh printed in the year "Nachat" (gratification; the numerical value of 'nachat' corresponds to the Hebrew year 5458, i.e. 1698). He states that "this alludes to the heavenly gratification caused by the revelation of the holy book, and in that year the Baal Shem Tov was born. The Baal Shem Tov was used to saying that he was born in the year of the printing of the Shelah HaKadosh, in order to enlighten the world with G-d's light of Torah and fear of Heaven with service of the heart". The Rebbe Rayatz brings a wondrous tradition from R. Mendel of Vitebsk regarding the first and second editions of the Shelah: "During the printing of the Shelah… this holy book enthused and inspired the hearts of the Jewish people, drawing the Evil Eye, which brought about the infamous Chmielnicki pogroms"; "In the year the Baal Shem Tov was born, the second edition of Shelah was printed in Amsterdam, and then as well there was an accusation in heaven against the Jewish people in Poland, similar to the first accusation upon the initial publication of the Shelah, yet thank G-d, it was a year of serenity" (Likutei Diburim HaMeturgam, I, p. 50).
Early signatures at the top of the title page and on the following leaf.
This copy belonged to R. David Sperber – the Gaon of Brașov (see below). His signature appears on the front endpaper. The book contains many glosses (more than 150) handwritten by him, some long. Some glosses are slightly trimmed.
[4], 422; 44; [12] leaves. 29.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Tears and damage to title page and to several other leaves. Loss to lower left corner of illustrated title page, affecting the illustration, replaced with photocopy. Stains, dark dampstains. Worming to several leaves. The book is detached into two parts. Old, damaged, detached binding.


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Rabbi Sperber (1877-1962), leading Galician and Romanian rabbi. Born in Zablotov to a family of Kosov-Vizhnitz  Chassidim, he was a disciple of R. Meir Arik. He also studied under Rebbe Moshe Hager of Kosov, author of Ezor HaEmunah, and arranged the latter's writings for print. He frequented the courts of the Chakal Yitzchak of Spinka and the Ahavat Yisrael of Vizhnitz. From 1908, he served as dayan and posek in Polien Riskeve (Poienile de sub Munte), and from 1922, as rabbi of Braşov (Kronstadt). He authored Afarkasta D'Anya, Michtam LeDavid, Tehillah LeDavid and other books. He was renowned for the permissions he issued to agunot following the Holocaust. In  the winter of 1950, he immigrated to Eretz Israel, where he became known as "the rabbi of Braşov", and served  as a leader of the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah and Chinuch HaAtzma'i. His grandson is Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber.

Category
Jewish Books and Manuscripts