Tur Orach Chaim, with Beit Yosef – Signature of R. David Lida Rabbi of Amsterdam – Numerous Glosses

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Tur Orach Chaim, by Rabbeinu Yaakov ben Asher, with the Beit Yosef commentary, by R. Yosef Karo. [Venice: Zuan (Giovanni) Griffo, 1566. Lacking title page and first leaves – third edition of the Beit Yosef on Orach Chaim, printed in the lifetime of the author R. Yosef Karo].
Flowery ownership inscription on the first page, in early Ashkenazic script (part of the inscription was deleted): "The blessed G-d with infinite wisdom, granted me this Tur Yoreh De'ah, may He bestow upon me an understanding heart and wisdom, every moment and every hour… so is the prayer of David, the small one, son of R. Aryeh Leib". This is presumably the signature of the renowned R. David Lida Rabbi of Amsterdam, who was a rabbi, Halachic authority, Kabbalist and author of many books, a leading Torah scholar of the 17th century.
The margins contain dozens of lengthy glosses, in Ashkenazic script by several writers, and presumably a large part of them were handwritten by R. David Lida. Some of the glosses pertain to interesting Halachic questions (see Hebrew description), and some contain completions, corrections of printing errors and omissions, and sources.
The Kabbalist R. David Lida (1632?-1696) was a foremost rabbi in his generation. He served as rabbi of several important communities, and was a prolific writer. He was a disciple of the renowned Torah scholar, R. Heschel of Kraków, and a contemporary of the Shach and the Taz. Born is Zwoleń, Volyn, to R. Aryeh Leib and his mother, sister of R. Moshe Rivkes, the Be'er HaGolah, he was also a relative of the Shelah. From 1671, he served as rabbi in several Lithuanian and German cities, including Lida. In 1677, he was appointed rabbi of Mainz, and from 1681, served as rabbi of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam, concurrently with R. Yaakov Sasportas who was rabbi of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam.
R. David Lida composed many books on Halacha, Kabbalah and homily: Ir David, Shomer Shabbat, Divrei David, Chalukei Avanim, Sod Hashem, Sharbit HaZahav, Ir Miklat, Migdal David and others. His approbations and forewords appear in many of the books printed in his generation, including the approbation he accorded in 1692 to the printing of Turei Zahav (Taz), by R. David HaLevi (also a disciple of R. Heschel of Kraków. It is interesting to note that their graves are adjacent in the Lviv cemetery). Biographers of R. David Lida note that he authored a composition named Be'er Mayim Chaim on the four parts of Shulchan Aruch, also mentioning a special composition of commentary to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, though neither were ever published. It is possible that the handwritten glosses appearing here served as the basis for those compositions. It is also noteworthy that some of the topics discussed at length in his glosses here on the laws of Shabbat, are mentioned briefly in his book Shomer Shabbat (Amsterdam, 1687 – this book was reprinted in Zhovkva 1806 at the initiative of the Maggid of Kozhnitz and with his approbation).
His book Ir Miklat, on the 613 commandements and their reasons, was printed in many editions, some of them with the glosses of the Chida. In 1671, the book was printed in Ungvar (Uzhhorod), at the initiative of Rebbe Tzvi Hirsh of Liska, who added an interesting foreword, dubbing this book, which contains a brief commentary on the Mitzvot according to Kabbalistic teachings, an incredibly beautiful composition - a flawless pearl.
In 1683, R. David was dismissed from the Amsterdam rabbinate, by some members of the community, who opposed and harassed him. They accused him of Sabbateanism, as well as plagiarism regarding his book Migdal David (see below). R. David travelled to Poland to present proofs of his innocence before the sages of the Council of the Four Lands. The Polish rabbis vindicated him, and demanded the Amsterdam community reinstate him in his position. Upon his return to Amsterdam, the case was investigated by the Sephardi rabbis, who also declared him innocent, but he left Amsterdam a short time later, returning to Poland and wandering from city to city, writing and publishing his books. In his preface to his book Migdal David, he recounts how he lost his great wealth due to the persecution he endured in Amsterdam. R. David published a polemic booklet named Be'er Esek (Frankfurt an der Oder, Elul 1684), where he presents the assertions of his innocence he submitted before the Council of the Four Lands, as well as the letters from the rabbis, presidents of the Council, and from the rabbis of Kraków, Lublin and Poznań, who describe the greatness of R. David, and issue a ban on any other rabbi taking the position he was unjustly dismissed from. The holy Kabbalist R. Yitzchak of Poznań commended him: "A great Torah scholar, whom we know from his youth until now… R. David Rabbi of Amsterdam, truly a holy man…". Some of R. David Lida's books aroused much controversy. His book Migdal David on Megillat Ruth (Amsterdam, 1681) raised a great polemic at that time, alleging he concealed the identity of the true author of the composition, R. Chaim HaKohen of Alleppo (R. Chaim HaKohen is only mentioned in the preface to this book, and only in allusion. In subsequent generations, the Yaavetz and the Chida both issued criticism on this fact). His book Siddur Yad Kol Bo, printed in Frankfurt am Main in 1687, also aroused much controversy, due to the integrating of teachings from foreign sources (the book was impinged upon by the publisher who implanted his own additions, unbeknownst to the author's son, R. Petachya of Lida, who brought it to print after his father's passing).
Leaf 24b of the last pagination and the last leaf contain ownership inscriptions, doodles and quill attempts ("Yekutiel Efraim Zalman son of R. Shaul…", "Isak son of R. Pinchas Reich…", and more).
7-24; 460 leaves. Lacking first 6 leaves. 34.5 cm. Varying condition, most of the leaves in good-fair condition. Stains and wear. Worming in several places. Large tears to the first and last leaves, affecting text. Last leaf detached. Without binding.
Litterature: A. Freiman, R. David Lida and his Self-Justification in Be'er Esek, Jubilee Book in Honor of Nachum Sokolow, Warsaw, 1904, pp. 455-480; S. Asaf, The Internal Matters of Polish Jewry, BeOholei Yaakov, Jerusalem 1943, p. 67; R. Y. Halperin, Pinkas Vaad Arba Aratzot, Jerusalem 1945, section 418.
The handwriting and signature of R. David Lida (from later periods, after the passing of his father R. Aryeh Leib), appear in the Oxford-Bodleian manuscript no. 103 – see enclosed photocopy. The flowery style of the ownership inscription and of the signature is typical of R. David Lida's style of writing in the prefaces to his many books and in the numerous approbations he accorded to the books of the scholars of his generation. The expression of the signature "David the small one" appears in the preface to his book Divrei David (Lublin 1671). In that same preface, his father is already mentioned as deceased, while in the signature on this Tur, R. David mentions him with the blessing for longevity, indicating that this book came into R. David's possession before 1671, and prior his appointment as rabbi of Lida.
Famous Torah Luminaries - 16th-19th Centuries - Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures
Famous Torah Luminaries - 16th-19th Centuries - Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures