Rare and Important Items Books, Manuscripts & Rabbinical Letters | Objects – Judaica, Israeliana & Numismatics | Jewish & Israeli History and Culture | Israeli & International Art

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The Auction was held on 09/05/17

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Auction 55a Lot Number 1

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Babylonian Talmud, Cracow, 1604-1605 – Nine Tractates in Three Volumes – Ancient Marginalia – Contemporary Bindings

Babylonian Talmud, with commentaries. Cracow, [1604-1605]. Printed by Isaac Ben Aaron Prostitz.

Opening4,000$ Sold For4,920$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 2

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Babylonian Talmud – Amsterdam, 1752-1765 – Complete Set with Original Leather Bindings

Babylonian Talmud, with commentaries. Amsterdam, 1752-1765. Printed by Yosef and Ya'akov sons of Shlomo Proops. Complete 12-volume set.
Some of the letters on the title pages at the beginning of the volumes were printed in red ink.
Ownership inscriptions on title pages: "Belongs to the nagid M. Chaim son of Y.I. [Yitzchak Isaac] Michnevitzer" [from Minsk]. Censor stamps.
This Amsterdam edition was known for its quality and beauty. The Nodah B'Yehuda wrote about this edition: "… the Talmud which the aforementioned printers printed… from the day the printing press was invented, no Babylonian Talmud has been printed with such perfect splendor". This edition was the core of a widespread polemic arising from the printing of another edition of the Talmud in the city of Sulzbach. The Proops brothers waged a war against the Sulzbach printers because the brothers had been granted dozens of approbations by rabbis who endowed them with exclusive printing rights of the Talmud for the following 25 years (many of those approbations were printed at the beginning of the volume of Tracate Berachot of this set). The Proops brothers applied to the Va'ad Arba Aratzot and to other rabbis who hastened to ban the Sulzbach Talmud. They prohibited studying from that printing of the Talmud and ruled that the volumes should be burnt [!] or at least buried. However, this dispute continued for a long while and eventually involved the attention of leading rabbis of that time, such as the Nodah B'Yehuda who finally succeeded in promoting a compromise between the two parties and reaching an agreement in which R. Zalman, the Sulzbach printer acquiesced to recompense the Amsterdam printers.
In the middle of the printing of this edition, the work ceased for several years and during 1758-1763 no tractates were printed. R. Natan Neta Rabinowitz had an interesting conjecture as to the reason for this interval. He thinks that it was caused by the spread of the Sabbatean movement, the spread of the Frankist movement in Podolia and the burning of the Talmud: "Most of the subscribers of the Talmud were from Poland (because in Germany, the Sulzbach edition was less expensive) and at that time, the Sabbatean cult rose in Podolia and vilified the Talmud before the Bishop of Kamenets and Lemberg who subsequently (in Cheshvan 1757) commanded all the priests under his rule to confiscate all Jewish books and to bring them to Kamenets. Thousands of books were seized and burnt in the city streets. These libels and defamations of the Talmud resurfaced year after year and the Jews would conceal their books to save them from confiscation and obviously did not purchase new ones. Moreover, during the Seven Years' War, 1756-1763, transporting books into Lithuania was very difficult and therefore the Proops Brothers could not print at that time". Conversely, R.C. Liberman (Ohel Rachel Vol. 1, pp. 377-380) rejected the reasons presented by Rabinowitz and opined that incorrect calculations of printing expenses caused the cessation of printing and after the brothers had spent the initial funds collected from "subscribers", they could not continue their work until new funds were donated by Polish sponsors for completing the printing of the entire Talmud. At the end of the last volume (Tractate Nidah and Seder Taharot), the printers concluded with a text alluding to the events which they experienced: "The same thing that happened to Ezra HaSofer upon building the Second Temple happened to us, advisors schemed to cancel the work of the House of G-d… So people whose hearts are governed by envy, ensnared us along the way… conspired to lock the door before us to prevent us from reaching our goal… Without bountiful Heavenly compassion, we would have not been able to reach the end, because these malevolent plans almost succeeded…".
12 volumes. 39 cm. Some leaves in a few volumes were bound out of order. Overall good condition. Stains and wear in various places. In some volumes, the leaves have a dark hue. Tears to some title pages. Worming in two volumes. Contemporary leather bindings, damaged and worn.

Opening1,500$ Sold For4,182$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 3

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Two Astrological Works – Venice, 1485 – Abraham Ibn Ezra – Incunabula – Missing Copy

Liber Abraham Iudei de Nativitatibus [The Book of Nativities by Avraham the Jew]. Bound together with: Magistralis Compositio Astrolabii, by Hanrici [Henry] Bate. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt press, 1485. Latin. Incunabula.
Book containing two early astrological works (printed together originally):
* "Liber de Nativitatibus" - astrological work by "Abraham Iudei" [Abraham the Jew], attributed by the bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider and by other scholars to Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra. Although some scholars believed the work is a translation from the Hebrew of Ibn Ezra's "Sefer HaMoladot", apparently it is in fact a work originally written in Latin by Ibn Ezra himself, or under his supervision.
* "Magistralis Compositio Astrolabii", work on the subject of the astrolabe (a device that measures the inclined position in the sky of celestial bodies), by the Flemish philosopher, astronomer, astrologist and poet Henry Bate (1246-1310).
The works are accompanied by a number of woodcuts: decorated initials and ten astrological illustrations (including diagrams of the various houses, a diagram of the night sky, and more).
[22] leaves. Missing [8] leaves (signature B of the work attributed to Ibn Ezra, which includes a number of illustrations), 22 cm. Good condition. Worming to all the leaves. Foxing. Some ancient markings (in ink) to text margins. Cardboard binding with vellum spine and corners. Inscriptions in pencil and bookplate on endpapers.
Regarding the work attributed to Abraham Ibn Ezra, see: Abraham Ibn Ezra's Astrological Works in Hebrew and Latin, New Discoveries and Exhaustive Listing, by Renate Smithius. In: Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism, Volume 6, 2006.

Opening1,000$ Sold For1,476$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 4

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Sefer Dikduk by Rabbi Moshe Kimchi – Ortona, 1519 – Printed by Gershom Soncino – The Only Hebrew Book Printed in Ortona

Sefer Dikduk [Grammar book], by R. Moshe Kimchi, "With other grammar compositions authored by others". Ortona (Italy), [c. 1519]. Printed by Gershom Soncino.
Copy missing 10 leaves.
Gershom Soncino was among the greatest of the Italian Jewish printers. He travelled with his family through many cities in Italy, and printed Hebrew books in each city. The early development of Jewish printing is therefore entwined with the travels of the Soncino family, starting from the city of Soncino (source of the family name), and continuing through Brescia, Casalmaggiore, Barco, Fano, Pesaro, Rimini, Ortona and Naples. In Ortona, Gershom printed only two books: an anti-Semitic composition in Latin by Pietro Galantino (it is unclear why Soncino published this work; he may have been compelled to do so), and this grammar book by R. Kimchi. This is therefore the only Hebrew book printed in Ortona. The title page hints at the Soncino family’s many wanderings, “[I], the youngest and least of the disciples, Ger-shom [a play on the words ‘a stranger there’] in the city of Ortona”. The title page further states that the work was published "Under the rule of our Master King Carlos King of Sicily and Jerusalem… in the second year of his reign". (Charles [Carlos] V inherited the united kingdom of Spain in 1516, which included Sicily and parts of Italy. In 1519 he was appointed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire).
On the last (blank) leaf there is a handwritten monetary agreement in Italian Hebrew script (debenture?).
Lacking copy. [25] leaves, instead of the original [35] leaves (Leaves [1]-[4], [6]-[7], [9], [17]-[20], [22]-[35]. Leaf [35] is blank). 19 cm. Condition varies among the leaves, most are complete and in good condition, the title page and several other leaves have restored tears. Stains and inscriptions. Open tears to margins of several leaves, professionally restored with paper filling. Open tear to title page affecting text, skillfully repaired with a photocopy. Leaf [6] has large open tear to upper part, skillfully repaired with a photocopy. The lacking leaves were replaced with photocopies. New binding.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening4,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 5

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Pamphlet for Studying the Hebrew Alphabet and Vowels – Gershom Soncino Press – Pesaro, 1510

Introductio ad Litteras Hebraicas [Introduction to Hebrew Letters]. Gershom Soncino (Hieronymus Soncinus) Press, Pesaro, Italy, 1510. Latin and Hebrew.
Pamphlet for studying the Hebrew alphabet and vowel marks (niqqud). The pamphlet opens with an introduction in Latin, which mentions the intention to publish the Book of Psalms in several languages. This is followed by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and explanations about the vowel marks, as well as verses and prayer excerpts in Hebrew, with Latin transliteration (including Psalm 51: 17, the prayer "Our Father that art in heaven" and Psalm 1: 1-3). The Latin transliteration follows the Sephardi pronunciation, in which the kamatz is pronounced as an "a" sound (and not as an "o" sound, as customary in the Ashkenazi pronunciation).
The text may have been written by Gershom Soncino himself.
[7] leaves, 14.5 cm. Good condition. Dark stains to upper margins of the first printed leaf and the blank leaves at the end of the volume. The upper margins of the leaves are somewhat dark. Soft vellum binding (with some stains). Bookplate.
Rare. Not in NLI.
Winograd, Pesaro 9.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening7,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 6

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Broadside and Two Printed Compositions – the Venetian Conjoined Twins – Venice and Bologna, 1575-1576

Broadside and two printed compositions on the subject of the Jewish conjoined twins from Venice. [Venice and Bologna, 1575-1576]. Italian.
On May 26, 1575, conjoined twins were born in the Jewish ghetto of Venice. The twins had two heads, four arms, four legs and one body from their waist down and they roused much interest in the midst of the Jewish and Christian population causing many curious people to come to their home and see the wonder. After eight days, the twins died and their father gave the dead body to the Gemillut Chassadim society in the ghetto. Instead of burying the body as required by Jewish law, the society preserved the body and put it on display for payment. Some of the Venetian rabbis strongly opposed this desecration, among them were R. Samuel Judah Katzenellenbogen and R. Refael Yosef Treves. A long halachic responsum by R. Samuel Judah Katzenellenbogen on this matter, prooving that the twins must be buried according to halacha, was printed in the book Zera Anashim (Mukacheve 1902). Finally, after a "tidy sum" was collected for the funds of the Gemillut Chassadim society, the twins were buried.
The twins, who were called "the monster" were also of great interest to researchers who were eager to document the unusual phenomenon (at that time, the study of "monsters" became widespread). Another reason that the twins were the focus of such attention is the fact that close to the time of their birth, an epidemic of pestilence spread among the population. The proximity of these events caused many to think that the birth of the twins was a sign hailing the epidemic or that both the unnatural birth and the epidemic were expressions of G-d's wrath.
Three years after the birth of the twins, the event was described in the book Gai Chizayon (printed in Alexandria 1880) by the Jewish kabbalist and philosopher R. Abraham Yagel (1553-1623), who wrote an explanation for the birth of the twins.
1-2. Two compositions bound together:
* Nova et Ridicolosa Espositione del Mostro nato in Ghetto, con il Lamento di suo Padre per la Morte di Quello [New ridiculous exposition of the Ghetto monster, with the father's lamentation on its death]. Venice, 1575. Italian.
At the end of the composition is a full-page hand-colored woodcut, depicting the twins next to their parents. [6] leaves.
* Discorso sopra gli accidenti del parto mostruoso nato d'una hebrea nel ghetto di Venetia, nell'anno 1575 a di 26 di Maggio [Discourse of events surrounding the monstrous birth… in the Venice ghetto in 1575 on May 26], by Gio [Giovanni] Giuseppe Gregorio Cremonese. Printed by Giouanni Rossi, Bologna, 1576. Italian.
This composition ties the birth of the twins to the corrupt leadership of the Jewish community in Italy. The author cites three types of explanations for the birth of the twins - a "material" explanation based on scientific opinions common in that era regarding the birth of conjoined twins; a "celestial" explanation based on astrology (in this framework, the author studies other cases of the birth of conjoined twins in proximity to various calamities); and a "G-dly" explanation which is primarily composed of blaspheming the Jewish religion and claiming that the Jewish interpretation of the book of Daniel and the occupation of the Jews of the Venice Ghetto lending money with interest, caused the birth of the conjoined twins and the ensuing epidemic.
The composition is accompanied by illustrations including an illustration of the twins, a horoscope of the day of their birth and of the day their mother conceived them.[7] leaves. Lacking last leaf.
Both compositions are bound together. 19 cm. Good condition. Stains and minor damages. Handwritten signatures on the title pages of both compositions. Nice-looking parchment binding.
3. Mostri e Segni che si sono veduti in Vinegia nell'a anno 1575 [Monsters and signs that they were seen in Venice in 1575]. Printed by Pietro Farri, Venice, 1575. Italian.
A printed broadside with details of "monsters" (unusual natural phenomenon) in Venice, including the conjoined twins. On the bottom is an illustration (woodcut) which depicts some of the aforementioned monsters. [1] leaf, 27.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains. Lacking bottom right corner. Tears restored with paper gluing in the center of the leaf (on folding crease).
The three items are not in NLI.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening2,000$ Sold For5,166$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 7

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Mazalot Shel Adam / Refu’at HaGeviya – Salonika, 1593

Mazalot shel Adam, "Tells from the beginning of the creation of his existence until his death", with Refu'at HaGeviya, "by R. Yehuda HaCharizi" [Alcharizi]. Salonika, [1593]. [Printed by Avraham Yosef Bat Sheva?].
Separate title page for each composition, with wood-cut frames. Refu'at HaGeviya begins at leaf 7. On leaves 10-11 are "Parables of Sages and their riddles" [compiled from the Tachkemoni by Yehuda Alcharizi].
11 leaves. 14.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains, restored wear and tears to margins. New binding.
To the best of our knowledge, these books have never been offered at an auction.

Opening8,000$ Sold For9,840$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 8

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Mitzvat Nashim Melumada – First Two Italian Editions – Venice 1616, Padova 1625 / Manuscript of the Composition with Textual Variations

Mitzvat Nashim Melumada, laws and mussar for women, the two first printed editions in Italian, and a manuscript of the composition:
* Two printed editions of the book Mitzvat Nashim Melumada / Precetti da Esser Imparati Dalle Donne Hebree, "Laws of challah, lighting candles and derech eretz". First and second edition of the Italian translation: Venice 1616; Padova (Padua), 1625.
* Manuscript, Mitzvat Nashim Melumada. Italian, interwoven with Hebrew words. [17th/18th centuries]. Differs from the printed edition. Lacking at beginning.
Mitzvat Nashim Melumada is an Italian translation of the book Seder Mitzvot Hanashim by R. Binyamin Aharon Slonik, author of the Mas'at Binyamin responsa [disciple of the Maharshal and the Rama, a prominent posek of the 16th century]. This composition was originally written in Yiddish for Jewish women containing halachot of their special mitzvoth: nidah, challah and lighting Shabbat candles, with words of inspiration and mussar. The book was first printed in Cracow in 1577, and later reprinted many times due to its captivating popularity. The book was adapted and translated into Italian by R. Ya'akov ben R. Elchanan Halprin, an Ashkenazi sage who lived in Italy [he wrote the book Nachalat Ya'akov, Padova 1623, which received an approbation from the Shla at the time he passed through Venice on his way to Eretz Israel, in which he notes the G-dly wisdom of the author and praises him and his work]. These are the first two Italian editions (More editions were printed in Italian later, in 1652 and 1711 in Venice).
Two books and a manuscript. 1616 Edition: [5], 101, [10] pages. 1625 Edition: [19], 115 pages. Approximately 19 cm. Condition varies among the books. One is in overall good condition and the other in overall fair condition. Stains and wear, tears and damages (with lacking and damaged text to title page and several other places), professionally restored. One book has a handsome contemporary leather binding, with an embossed gilt ornamentation. Manuscript: [74] leaves (numbered 11-84. Lacking at beginning). Approximately 21 cm. Overall good-fair condition. Stains, dampstains, worn margins. Contemporary cardboard binding, with restored spine.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening3,300$ Sold For4,059$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 9

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Manuscript, Petach Devarai – Italy, 1471

Manuscript, Petach Devari - on the grammar of the Holy Tongue. [Italy], 1471.

Opening7,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 10

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Manuscript – Compilation of Folklore and Grammatical Compositions – Petach Devarai, Alpha Betha de-Ben Sira, Arabian Nights, Pitron Chalomot, and More – Red-Ink Ornamentation – 15th and 16th Centuries

Manuscript, compilation of folklore and Hebrew Grammar compositions. [Italy, 15th and 16th centuries].
Sephardic or Provençal cursive script, from circa late 15th century, with initials and ornaments in red ink. Besides the compositions written in the center of the leaf, additional compositions were also written by the same scribe in the margins.
Written in the center of the leaves is Petach Devarai - an early work on Hebrew grammar (named after its opening words), by a Spanish scholar. Following the latter (beginning on leaf [65r]) is a commentary on Petach Devarai by the author's grandson which begins: "I, Meir son of R. Shlomo son of R. David… needed to explain these matters… which my grandfather did not mention in his work…".
The scribe left wide margins and added other compositions on the margins: Alpha Betha de-Ben Sira [Alphabet of Sirach. A similar version, but with variations was printed by Steinschneider in Berlin in 1858). This is followed (beginning at leaf [42r]) by stories and tales from the book Arabian Nights and other sources (on leaf [45r] is "Maa'se Sindbad" [story of Sindbad]).
Starting with leaf [75r], the scribe left the leaves blank in the center and continued to write only the tales in the margins. Another composition, by another scribe was added to this part, also written in cursive Sephardic or Provençal script, titled: "The first Page of Hebrew Grammar...". At the end of this composition (leaf [78r]) is the scribe's colophon: "The young scribe Vidal Moshe Refael son of my teacher and Rabbi the physician Yosef Ben Porat" (The handwriting of this copier can be found in a Siddur for the entire year, minhag Carpentras, in the Oxford-Bodleian Libraries, Ms. 14. In that Siddur is an ownership inscription in his handwriting dated "Dec. 3, 1540, Vidal Moshe Refael Ben Porat son of the physician Yosef, I have purchased this siddur…").
On the blank leaves at the beginning of the manuscript (Leaves [1]-[8]) are handwritten notes, including "Pitron Chalomot" (interpretation of dreams) and other folklore notes, written in the style of those times and of that region.
Italian censor inscription from 1687.
[82] leaves (75 written leaves). Approximately 22 cm. Stains. Tears and professionally restored damages (affecting text in some places). New handsome leather binding.
Enclosed is a report by Shlomo Zucker, expert on Hebrew manuscripts.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening6,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 11

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Two Manuscripts Bound Together, Grammatical Compositions / Commentary of Ba’alei HaTosfot on the Torah – Italy, 15th Century

Two manuscripts, grammatical compositions and Torah commentaries. [Italy, 15th century].
A manuscript in ancient Ashkenazi-Italian script, bound with another manuscript in ancient Ashkenazi script. Apparently, both manuscripts were bound together at the time they were written.
Content of the first manuscript:
1. Leaves [1]-[11r]: Mevo HaDikduk, by R. Benjamin b. Jehuda of Rome. The composition opens with the poem: B'Ezratcha Elyon, followed by the author's note that he wrote the book "For me and for my brethren who study with me…". In another place in the composition, he mentions his brother Aharon. Several places have illustrations of hands with pointing fingers. On leaf [7v] is a mnemonic diagram for teaching conjugation of Hebrew verbs, flanked on four sides by the inscriptions "east", "west", "north" and "south".
2. Leaf [11r], and leaves [12v]-[16r]: Composition on the Rashi commentary on the Torah - including novellae by the Ba'alei HaTosfot on the Torah, primarily on the parshiot of Bereshit and on Parshat Va'Era of Shemot. The author calls his commentary "Explanation of the foreign words in the Rashi commentary". His commentary on some parshiot culminate with a rhyming verse. A partial examination has revealed version variations between this manuscript and printed editions of the Tosfot on the Torah.
In the middle - leaves [11v]-[12r] are calculations of the Jewish calendar (leap years, New Moons).
3. Leaves [16r]-[18v]: Commentary on the book Petach Devarei by R. Meir ben R. Shlomo ben R. David the grammarian.
4. Leaves [18v]-[20v] contain compilations from the book Machberet HaAruch by R. Shlomo Ibn Parchon (Chelek HaShorashim). Titled: "I have found… in the city of Legnago [or Legnano, Northern Italy]". On leaf [21r]: "This book is from Eliezer son of Yitzchak…".
The name of the scribe of the manuscript is Shmuel - the letters of the name are marked in the beginning of the lines on leaf [5r] and on leaf [15v], as was formerly customary by scribes.
Content of second manuscript:
Leaves [21]-[48]: Sefer Zikaron by R. Yosef Kimchi (first printed in Berlin in 1888, by Binyamin Ze'ev Bacher. This manuscript was the basis of that edition).
Marginalia by another writer from that time (Italian Hebrew script). At the end of the manuscript are four additional pages in a different handwriting (Italian script). At the top of one leaf is the title "Verbs and Details of Grammar". Written on another leaf: "I have copied from the Cheshev HaEfod". Quill trials on the next to last leaf and on the last leaf: list of the verb conjugations with Italian Hebrew explanations.
Signed by censors (on leaf [44v] and on the last page): Domenico Carretto 1618; Domenico Jerosolimitano; Alessandro Scipione 1597.
The first manuscript was probably copied in Northern Italy since a composition found in the city of Legnago (or Legnano) is mentioned. Many German (Ashkenazi) Jews immigrated to this region during the second half of the 14th century and continued settling there throughout the 15th century.
[49] leaves. 20 cm. Good condition. Stains, minor wear. Leaf [21] is composed of the last leaf and the first leaf of both manuscripts. The first of these two leaves was torn in an attempt to separate them, affecting the text. Tears and damages to text of last leaf. Non-contemporary binding.
Provenance:
1. Shmuel Schoenblum (note on front flyleaf documenting purchase from him).
2. Shlomo Zalman Chaim Halberstam.
3. Montefiore collection - London.
4. Sotheby's New York November 2004.
5. Toaff family collection.

Opening5,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 12

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Collection of Early Manuscript Fragments, Removed from the “Binding Geniza” – Mishne Torah L’HaRambam – Yemen, 1343

Collection of early manuscript fragments, removed from the "Binding Geniza" - Mishne Torah L'HaRambam. [Yemen, 1343].
Ancient Yemenite script, semi-square, with enlarged titles, some written in colored ink and some with hollow letters filled with gold and red ink.
According to the opinion of Shlomo Zucker, an expert on Hebrew manuscripts, the handwriting in this manuscript is identical to the handwriting in a manuscript of Mishne Torah, Sefer Hafla'ah, Hilchot Shevuot (Chapter 2, Halacha 2, until the end of Hilchot Shevuot), dated 1343 and held in the San Francisco Sutro Library (WPA 111). This manuscript is another part of the manuscript in the Sutro Library (see a photocopy of the manuscript: M. Beit-Arié, Engel and Yardeni, the Hebrew Palaeography Project - Asufot Ketavim Ivri'im Mimei HaBenayim [Collection of Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts], Vol 2, Jerusalem 1988, no. 122).
Content of these leaves: Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh, sections from Chapters 5-8, 11-19; Hilchot Ta'anit, section from Chapters 1-4.
These leaves contain minor textual variations, see enclosed report.
Enclosed are two manuscript fragments on vellum removed from the "Binding Geniza", one is from another manuscript of the Mishne Torah L'HaRambam (Yemen), and the other has illegible inscriptions.
Approximately 40 fragments. Size and condition vary, due to the binding process.
Enclosed is a report by Shlomo Zucker, expert on Hebrew manuscripts.

Opening2,000$ Sold For2,460$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 13

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Collection of Ancient Manuscript Fragments, on Parchment and Paper – Mishnah, Babylonian Talmud and Rashi Commentary on Tractate Chulin – Italy, 14/15 Century – Contains Textual Variations in the Talmud and Rashi

Collection of ancient manuscript fragments removed from the "Binding Geniza" - Babylonian Talmud Tractate Chulin, and Rashi commentary on Tractate Chulin. [Italy, 14th/15th century?].
Nine fragments, almost complete. One is written on parchment and eight on paper. Semi-cursive Italian-Ashkenazic script. 22-26 lines per page.
Mishnayot, Babylonian Talmud and Rashi commentary, Tractate Chulim - Chapter 4 (Behema HaMaksha) and Chapter 5 (Oto V'et B'no). All the mishnayot of Chapter 5 (beginning in the middle of Mishnah 2) appear consecutively on one leaf (the parchment), immediately followed by the Talmud on the same chapter without the mishnayot. This way of presenting the text of the Talmud is followed on other leaves as well. Four leaves contain Rashi's commentary on Chapter 4 which is written consecutively, separate from the Talmud text (rather than beside it).
Upon inspection of the manuscript, we found many textual variations in the Talmud (in comparison to the versions which appear on the Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society website) and in the Rashi commentary (in comparison to the printed version). (See example in Hebrew description).
The content (using the pagination of the Vilna Talmud): Mishnayot: Chapter 5 (Oto V'et Beno), from the middle of Mishnah 2 until the end of the chapter. Talmud: Leaf 75, Page 1 (Chapter 4); leaves 78-79 (Chapter 5). Rashi commentary: leaves 68-69 (Chapter 4).
Total of 9 leaves (18 written pages). Size: approx. 12X19.5 cm. Various damages sustained from binding. Stains, tears with damages or lacking text, restored with paper. Enclosed is a piece of the binding from which the leaves were removed.

Opening4,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 14

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Rambam, Venice 1551 – “Sefer HaMuge” (Proofread) – With Marginalia in an Ancient Handwriting from the Egypt Yeshiva of Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi and his Disciples

Mishne Torah L'HaRambam, Vol. 1: Minyan HaMitzvot, Mada, Ahava and Zemanim (until the end of Hilchot Shabbat). [Venice, 1551. Justinian printing press].
Many marginalia in ancient Oriental handwriting [characteristic to Eretz Israel/Egypt in the 16th century]. The content of the marginalia (glosses and the corrections) are identical to the well-known glosses in the Sefer HaMuge – a proofread manuscript with glosses by Egyptian sages. In the gloss which appears on leaf 58/r titled "Gilayon (sheet)" is the inscription: "I have found it in the accurate books of the R[ambam] which exist here in Egypt". This copy found its way to Yemen and also contains glosses and inscriptions from various times in Yemenite script.
This is a copy of the Sefer HaMuge, with the well-known glosses of sages of the Egypt Yeshiva, headed by the Radvaz and his leading disciples.
At the yeshiva of the Radvaz in Egypt, leading disciples edited various compilations and proofread printed books [according to accurate manuscripts in their possession]. The most famous book created in the Egypt yeshiva is the Shita Mekubetzet on various tractates, edited primarily by R. Bezalel Ashkenazi [one of the leading disciples of the Yeshiva and one of its heads], together with his pupil, the Arizal. R. Bezalel and his disciples also created another work with version amendments and short anthologies on Seder Kodshim from the Talmud [which was printed with many mistakes] and as of the Vilna edition, their glosses were printed on the margins of the Talmud leaves titled Shita Mekubetzet [this composition was prepared for printing by his disciple R. Shlomo Adani, who originally named this work Melechet Shlomo L'Chochmat Bezalel]. Another composition which did not survive in its entirety is Sefer HaMuge which contains a careful editing of the Mishne Torah of the Rambam. These glosses are often cited in the work Kesef Mishne by R. Yosef Karo and he refers to them as "Sefer Muge, which originated in Egypt". Especially famed are the important glosses on Mesoret HaTorah (which appear in this volume in Chapter 8 of Hilchot Sefer Torah), which are extensively cited in the words of the Kesef Mishne and in the books of the Maharam di Lonzano on the Mesorah.
This copy belonged to R. Dov Zvi Rothstein (founder and head of Machon Zvi in Jerusalem), who researched it and published many of the glosses. R. D. Z. Rothstein reffered to this copy of Sefer HaMuge as a copy used in the 16th century by Safed sages such as R. Yosef Karo, R. Moshe Galante (the I), R. Menacham de Lonzano and perhaps also the Arizal (see enclosed articles: article by R. A. Chavatzelet and R. Rothstein: Moriah, 115, Tevet 1996, pp. 19-28; Sefer HaZikaron by R. Moshe Lifshitz, NY, 1996, pp. 353-460; article by R. Shalom Chaim Porush, Kor'ei Oneg, Issue 186, 19th Tevet 1996). The evidence to support the claim of R. D. Z. Rothstein were not all published and R. A. Chavatzelet writes in his article: "After the entire composition is printed, the editor will add proofs to these assumptions". R. D.Z. Rothstein passed away before publishing the evidence that this copy came from Safed sages. During our research we did not find verification of his aforementioned assumptions that this is the same copy used by the Safed sages. Evidently, these assumptions were based on premises which are not known to us. However, clearly this is a copy of Sefer HaMuge, with a copy of the well-known glosses of the sages of the Egypt Yeshiva at which the Arizal studied and participated in editing his teachers' books [other copies of the glosses of Sefer HaMuge exist – see enclosed articles].
* The first four leaves are a replacement from a different printed edition. On leaf [4v] is an inscription of a birth in an ancient Oriental script, by the father of "the boy Yedidya" born on the 26th of Tamuz 1576. On the same page is an adorned Oriental signature, "R. Moshe". In the articles cited above, this signature and inscription of birth are attributed to R. Moshe Galante the first, whose son R. Yedidya [author of Chiddushei Galante] was born in Safed at that time, however we did not find evidence to support that assumption. Moreover, the first four leaves, as mentioned, are a later replacement from another edition and are not at all related to the copy of Sefer HaMuge which begins at leaf 10.
Part 1, ending with Hilchot Shabbat in the middle of Zemanim (originally, part 1 ends on leaf 389, the end of Sefer Kedusha. However it was often bound in two ore more volumes due to its size). This copy is lacking title page and another 10 leaves. At the beginning, [4] leaves from another edition replace missing leaves: [4], 10-24, 26-43, [1], 25-26, 1, 10-40, 42-134 leaves. Mispagination. Lacking title page, leaves 2-9, leaf 25 of the first pagination, and Leaf 41 of the last pagination.
36 cm. Condition varies among the leaves, good-fair. Stains. Several leaves have signs of fungus. Leaves were restored and cleaned. Several leaves with coarse tears, some affecting text, restored with paper and gluing. New binding.

Opening20,000$ Unsold

Auction 55a Lot Number 15

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Manuscript, Rulings by Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Messer Leon and Italian Rabbis – With Polemic Opposing the Ralbag and the Kabbalists – Segulot – 15th/16th Centuries

Manuscript, rulings of R. Yehuda Messer Leon and Italian rabbis. [Italy, second half of 15th century or beginning of 16th century].
Handwritten pamphlet, ancient Italian Hebrew script. Title on first page: "Copy of the writings of Messer Leon of Ancona". Contains six long responsa by R. Yehuda Messer Leon and two by Italian rabbis, regarding two trenchant polemics which arose in Italy in 1455. One polemic deals with the regulations instituted by R. Yehuda Messer Leon on the laws of nidah which instigated opposition. The second is a ban by R. Yehuda Messer Leon on studying the book authored by the Ralbag, due to heresy he claimed to have found in the book, contested by rabbis who undertook to defend the honor of the Ralbag.
The manuscript contains sections which were never printed regarding the polemic surrounding the Ralbag. It ends with a list of segulot and folk-remedies for various cases.
The responsa in the manuscript:
1. A ruling with regulations of the nidah laws, by R. Yehuda Messer Leon, send to the Firenze community, signed by: "…Yehuda called Mes. Leon, in Firenze and other [places] in the Toskana region". At the end of the letter, R. Avraham warns of the ban and curse incurred by those who refuse to obey these regulations.
2. A trenchant polemic letter against the Ralbag, regarding his writings on the subject of Divine providence, Divine knowledge versus man's free choice. R. Yehuda writes of the Ralbag's doctrine: "His words cause destruction and tear down the bulwarks of our religion and obscure its light. Woe to the person who thereby stumbles…". He declares that the work is "erroneous" and "a complete heresy". R. David Messer Leon, son of R. Yehuda, attests that his father "decreed throughout all Italy under the penalty of banning, not to read the Ralbag's commentary on the Torah, since the Ralbag had become a heretic or took to evil ways in his beliefs and his captivating language… and this has continued for a long time…". (See enclosed material). In this responsum, R. Yehuda attests to the declaration of the ban: "Guard yourselves, let the heart of one of the people lead you astray to harken to his words, because this is complete heresy for all religious people and I have already announced this in the Treviso yeshivas and in a few of the Alemania [German] yeshivas". R. Yehuda also adds his opposition to the kabbalists, accusing them of attributing materialism and variations and plurality to G-d, ”due to their negative intentions and their treading in darkness…". In this letter, R. Yehuda writes that he spread the (aforementioned) ruling on the laws of nidah in the Italian region: "I have already decreed this ruling and have publicized it in the regions of Marche and Abruzzo and Puglia, Campania and the Rome region so that they should adhere to G-d's laws and his Torah" (the capital city of the Campania region is Naples).
3. Another letter on the laws of nidah, also sent to Firenze, by R. Yehuda Messer Leon.
4. A long sharp rejoinder by the Firenze Rabbi Binyamin ben R. Yoav of Montalcino, who fiercely opposed the words of R. Yehuda Messer Leon and questions his authority to ban and force regulations upon the Firenze community. Inside the letter, he also responds to R. Yehuda's letter against the Ralbag and defends his honor. He signs: "April 1455".
5. Another responsum (apparently, also written by R. Binyamin of Montalcino), defending the Ralbag from the accusations of R. Yehuda Messer Leon and another passage with his reply regarding his aforementioned ruling on the laws of nidah.
6. Letter with rejoinder regarding the ruling on the laws of nidah, by R. Shimshon son of R. Yechiel Refael Belin of Parma.
On the last page are various segulot and folk-remedies in a different handwriting.
The letters regarding the ruling on the laws of nidah were printed from this manuscript by R. David Frankel Rabbi of Husiatyn in his book "Divrei Rivot B'She'arim" (Husiatyn, 1902). In his introduction to the book, R. Frankel writes that he has decided to omit the parts related to the polemic of the Ralbag "for my own reasons". Therefore, the letter by R. Yehuda Messer Leon on the Ralbag does not appear in the book and also long sections related to this polemic were omitted from the other letters. Later, Prof. Simcha Assaf printed the letter by R. Yehuda Messer Leon (Simcha Assaf, Sources and Studies of Jewish History, pp. 221-225), but the rest of the sections which were omitted from these responsa have not yet been printed. Prof. Assaf wrote that R. Frankel informed him that "in the meantime, the manuscript has been burnt during the war at the time Russian forces entered Husiatyn", but as aforementioned, the manuscript has survived and is
presented here.
R. Yehuda Messer Leon was a 15th century Italian scholar, rabbi and head of yeshiva in Mantua, Ancona and Naples. He also served as a physician and even was endowed with knighthood. His son R. David, called his father "the greatest of his generation and light of our exile". These letters portray the power of his influence and his authority to dictate regulations to communities throughout Italy. R. Yosef Kolon, the Maharik, a contemporary of R. Yehuda, agreed to these regulations and supported him in his stand in the face of opposition, writing his full subservience to the "lion…whose words are white as a garment…treads the straight path, R' Yehuda head of the speakers…". Interestingly, R. Gedalya son of Yichye, in his book Shalshelet Hakabbalah, writes that R. Yehuda disagreed with the Maharik and following a dispute between them, the Duke of Mantua banished the Maharik and R. Yehuda from the city. R. Yehuda Messer Leon wrote many compositions, including Nofet Tzufim which was printed in Mantua in 1475, by R. Abraham Conat. This is the first Hebrew book printed in the lifetime of its author. Some say that R. Yehuda died in Moscow when Ivan III had him executed after he failed to cure his son the crown prince (see: R. Yehuda Messer Leon and his work as a physician, Daniel Karpi, B'Tarbut HaRenaissance U'Ven Chomot HaGhetto, Tel Aviv 1989, pp. 57-84).
[20] pages. 19.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains. Tears affecting text in margins of several leaves. Detached leaves, unbound.

Opening2,000$ Sold For2,460$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 16

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Partnership Contract of R. Shmuel Papo, Son-in-Law of the Remez – Signed by Kabbalist Rabbi Avraham Chizkuni and by R. David Altaras – Venice, 1661 – With Listings of Merchandise – Documentation of Trade in Books Printed in Prague, Conducted in Venice

Handwritten document - partnership contract between R. Mordechai Ziskind HaLevi Wallerstein of Prague and R. Shmuel Papo - son-in-law of R. Moshe Zakut [Moses ben Mordecai Zacuto, the Remez], signed in Venice on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 1661.
The document is signed by both partners, R. Mordechai HaLevi Wallerstein and R. Shmuel Papo, and by two witnesses: "Avraham, son of my father and master the pious Rabbi Yechizkiyah" and "David Altaras". The first is Kabbalist R. Avraham Chizkuni, author of Shtei Yadot and of Zot Chukat HaTorah and the second is R. David Altaras, a contemporary Venetian rabbi.
The contract details the conditions of the partnership, including the requirements of each partner: "The honored Rabbi Mordechai Halevi obligates himself to travel to Prague and invest the sum of money at his behest…in order to benefit and bring profit to the partnership, and the honored Rabbi Shmuel Papo obligates himself to attempt to sell the merchandise here in Venice or elsewhere…".
The document is written on a sheet of paper folded in two. On the second leaf is a list of merchandise invested in by the partners, amounts and prices. Among others, the following merchandise is listed: granato (garnets), calzetta (woven shoes/socks), bottone (buttons), as well as a listing of packages of books for sale: "Forty Mishnayot with Tosfot Yom Tov for 160 reale (40 refers to the amount of books, reale were the common currency)", "Three Yalkut Chadash for 38 reale", "Eighty Safa Berura for 8 reale", "Four Shichechat Leket for 7 reale".
Evidently, all the listed books were printed in Prague (Mishnayot with Tosfot Yom Tov, first edition, Prague 1615-1617; Yalkut Chadash, Prague 1657; Safa Berura, Prague 1660 and Shichechat Leket, Prague 1652) and exported by R. Mordechai Wallerstein from his hometown of Prague to Venice for sale. R. Shmuel Papo signed at the end of the list: "I, Shmuel Papo received these assets…". On the margins is another inscription signed by R. Mordechai of Prague: "I, Mordechai HaLevi, confirm receiving 15 of the 40 sets of Mishnayot…".
Rabbi Shmuel Papo, signatory on the contract, is evidently R. Shmuel Shemaya Papo, son-in-law of the kabbalist R. Moshe Zakut - the Remez (father of R. Avraham David Papo of Ragusa - see Nepi- Ghirondi, Toledot Gedolei Yisrael VeGeonei Italia, p. 31].
The first signatory as witness, R. Avraham son of R. Yechizkiya, known as R. Avraham Chizkuni (born in 1627), was an Ashkenazi scholar and kabbalist. Born in Cracow, he was a disciple of the author of the Tosfot Yom Tov, and travelled to Venice to join the kabbalist group of the Remez and his companions. At the end of his days, he travelled to Tripoli, Libya, and died there (see: Nepi- Ghirondi, Toledot Gedolei Yisrael VeGeonei Italia, first volume; Michel, Ohr Hachaim, p. 34, no. 92). Two of his works were printed: Zot Chukat HaTorah - Kitzur Kavanot HaAri, printed by the Remez in Venice in 1659, and Shtei Yadot - commentary on the Torah, revealed and hidden dimensions (nigleh and nistar), printed by his son in Amsterdam in 1726. The rest of his compositions were never published and have been lost over the years.
The second signatory as witness, R. David ben Shlomo (the Dvash) Altaras (1639-1714), was a Venetian rabbi, who also served as editor and proofreader in the local printing houses. Among other books, he printed Divrei HaBrit (Venice 1707). His testament together with mussar and poetry written by himself and by his disciples was printed and titled Tzuf Dvash, Venice 1714. His glosses on the Mishnayot were published after his passing (Mishnayot with Nekudot HaKosef, Venice 1737-1738; afterward in additional editions).
Folded folio (4 pages, two with handwriting). 30.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains. Folding creases, tears and wear to margins and folding creases.

Opening1,000$ Sold For1,230$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 17

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Letter by Jerusalem Rabbis Regarding the Mission of the Author of Pri Chadash – Polemic of Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Jerusalem

Two handwritten leaves, copy of a letter by Jerusalem rabbis regarding the mission of R. Hezekiah da Silva, author of the Pri Chadash, and about the polemic between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in Jerusalem. [Italy, end of the 17th century].
Cursive Italian Hebrew script. Early copy [copied close to the time of writing] of the letter by Jerusalem rabbis, R. Moshe Galante, Maharam Chaviv, R. Ovadia Aharon Chayun, R. Chiya Avraham di Boton, R. Avraham Tzemach, R. Ya'akov Molcho, R. Chiya ben Dayan and R. David Yitzchak - regarding the mission of R. Chizkiya da Silva, author of the Pri Chadash from the month of Tishrei 1688. The letter is addressed to the community leaders, the gaba'im and the rabbis of the "Holy communities in the region of the Frankish cities and the notables of Italian cities and the governing rulers of the Ashkenazi cities".
The Jerusalem rabbis write in the letter that about three months previously, they sent the "sage…Chizkiya da Silva to knock at the doors of donors…", and upon arriving in Egypt, he met the Jerusalem emissary R. Avraham HaLevi who told him that he was not as successful as in the past in collecting funds in the communities he visited. R. HaLevi attributed this decline in donations to an earlier visit by another emissary by the name of R. Moshe HaCohen "who teaches Torah to the Ashkenazi communities in Jerusalem", who collected funds allocated for Jerusalem to pay the debts of the Jerusalem Ashkenazi community, after showing them an agreement signed between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities in Jerusalem, according to which both communities were united regarding all monetary matters.
In their letter, the Jerusalem rabbis cried out protesting the fact that the donations that were allocated for Sephardim were given to pay Ashkenazi debts: "And upon hearing this thing, we were astonished that this was done, that funds which belong to our community of Sephardim were given to pay debts of the Ashkenazi communities, because we have never consented to this". According to them, the agreement of unifying the two communities was contingent upon the Ashkenazim first paying all their debts and only afterward, the communities would unite. The Sephardim claim that they do not waive their rights to the funds already collected by R. Moshe Cohen as well as funds donated in the future and they grant R. Hezekiah da Silva the power to ban and excommunicate anyone who denies this right.
Many historic details are cited in the letter shedding light on the state of the two Jerusalem communities - the Sephardi and the Ashkenazi, such as the debts of the Ashkenazim which eventually led to the obliteration of the their community in 1720 and the monetary agreements drawn between the two communities, including the agreement of the Sephardi community to arrange the tax payments for the Ashkenazim.
Rabbi Hezekiah da 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 Galante (the Rav HaMagen) and the Chida tells 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 considerable proficiency". It was not long before he was appointed head of the yeshiva. 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 Galante as an emissary to Western Europe [this is the mission discussed in this letter]. 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 Galante's mission and that "it 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 Isaac Aboab who was very old at that time. Rabbi Hezekiah stayed in Amsterdam until 1692 and printed his book Pri Chadash on Yoreh Deah during this stay.
After his book was printed, Rabbi Hezekiah’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 leading Torah authorities of previous generations and they decided (together with two Hebron scholars) to ban studying from Rabbi Hezekiah’s books and ruled that the books should be buried. For decades, this agreement of the Torah scholars of Egypt was binding as cited in the Ginat Egoz responsa (Yoreh Deah, Klal 3, 3). The Chida in his book Shem HaGedolim recounts that the decision was revoked 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 Hezekiah’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 Hezekiah died before he reached the age of forty but even at that young age was recognized as one of the leading scholars of his times.
Sheet folded into two leaves, [3] written pages. 27 cm. Good condition. Stains. Folding creases and few tears to margins.
The letter has not been printed and the affair described in the letter is not mentioned in Ya'ari's book Sheluchei Eretz Yisrael.

Opening1,000$ Sold For1,353$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 18

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Manuscript – Large-Format Machzor for a Chazan – Asti, Foano and Moncalvo Rites – For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – Asti, Italy, 1733

Manuscript, machzor for use by the chazzan - Asti, Foano and Moncalvo rites, for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. [Asti, Italy], 1733.
Large-format manuscript, vowelized Italian Hebrew square script, on thick high-quality paper. Enlarged initials; words, instructions and titles decorated with curly floral ornaments.
Lacking title page, however it left ink traces on the preceding blank leaf. These traces have a legible imprint stating that the manuscript was written in Asti. Colophon on last leaf: "The work was completed on Tuesday, Parshat Korach, 26 of the month of Sivan, 1733".
Contains prayers for Rosh Hashanah and for Yom Kippur, with version and piyyutim unique to the Asti, Foano and Moncalvo tradition, such as Seder HaAvodah by the poet Yossi ben Yossi.
The Jewish communities of Asti, Foano and Moncalvo were established by French expatriates who settled in the Piemonte region in Italy after the French expulsion in the 14th century. Most of the French expatriates adopted the prayer rites of their new places of residence and only the Jews of these three communities continued their past tradition thereby preserving the ancient French prayer rites. The French version is somewhat similar to the Ashkenazi rites, but differs in the version of prayer and has unique piyyutim. This version, called "Afam (Asti Foano Moncalvo) version" was never printed and only survives in ancient manuscripts.
Large volume. 2-105, 105-191 leaves. Approximately 29 cm. Good-fair condition. High-quality thick paper. Stains, some leaves have dark stains. Some loose or detached leaves. Several leaves have tears from ink-erosion (partially affecting text). Contemporary leather binding, slightly damaged.

Opening4,000$ Sold For4,920$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 19

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Manuscript, Composition Defending Jewish Books during the Italian Inquisition – Italian and Hebrew – 16th/17th Century

Manuscript, "Risposta generale a tutte quelle blasfemie che si trovano ne i libri hebraici…" [General response to the blasphemies in Hebrew books…]. Composition defending Jewish books which were censored and confiscated during the Italian inquisition. By an unknown Jewish author. [Italy (Ferrara?), end of the 16th century or first decades of the 17th century]. Italian, with Hebrew citations and quotes (Italian script).
The body of the composition is in Italian. In the left margins are long quotes and citations in Hebrew. In several places, Hebrew passages were incorporated into the Italian text.
The composition which seems to have been written for the heads of the inquisition in Italy is a detailed letter defending Jewish books. The author methodically refutes the claims that Jewish books contain ideas that offend Catholic Christianity and its rites, and he quotes many sources which the censors labeled as offensive. The author asserts that these passages actually refer to Idolatry and not to Christianity and that the censorship and confiscation of the books were based on erroneous interpretation of various Hebrew expressions. He calls to return the confiscated books to their Jewish owners and to refrain from punishing them.
At the beginning of the composition, the author explains the meaning of words which often appear in Jewish books and which censors mistakenly tend to color with anti-Christian connotations. For example, he explains that the Hebrew word "Notzrim" refers to Edom, the word "Rome" refers to the Roman Empire, the word "Goyim" to gentiles, etc. The author also proves that Jews are obligated to seek the well-being of the governments and nations among which they dwell. Afterward, he writes extensively about the content of various Hebrew books.
The Hebrew sections contain quotes and citations from a wide spectrum of sources: from the Bible, the Talmud and the Midrash, from the Rambam and the Ramban commentary on the Torah, from Megillat Ta'anit and Josippon. On leaf [2], inside the Italian text, is a long Hebrew section on the Mishnah "R' Chananya son of Akashya says, G-d wanted the Jewish People to gain merits…", quoting the Perush HaMishnayot of the Rambam, the author of Derech Emunah, the author of the Ikarim and the Abarbanel. The Italian text cites various books by Christian scholars. In several places, the writer cites the Beit Yosef in Tur Yoreh Deah (first printed in Venice in 1551).
[6] leaves (11 written pages), 32 cm. Good condition. Stains. Folding marks and creases. Minor tears in several places. Several corrections in another handwriting. New binding. Bookplate.
Provenance: Toaff family collection.

Opening1,500$ Sold For2,706$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 20

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Ornamented Manuscript – Pamphlet in Honor of Pope Benedict XIV, Written in Gratitude by the Jewish Community of Rome – Rome, 1751

Illustrated and ornamented manuscript, a pamphlet written in honor of Pope Benedict XIV, as a mark of gratitude from the Jews of Rome, in recognition of his assistance to those who were affected by the flooding of the Tiber River. [Rome], 1751.
Calligraphic writing in Hebrew, Latin and Italian. Pages framed in gold, with floral ornamentations.
Most pages are divided into two columns - one with the Hebrew text and the other with Latin translation.
On the first page is a general declaration: "From the Hebrew Rome community, our cheers for the exalted Pope… who peacefully rules on his royal throne, blessed be the fourteenth who performed wonderful kindness and great charity offering assistance at the time of the flooding of the Tiber River from the beginning of February until the seventh, in 1751".
This is followed by a long, more detailed text, in Hebrew and Latin, with praises for the Pope in flowery language and thanks for his assistance, describing the dire circumstances of the Jews of Rome and the Pope's generosity in providing for the Jews of the vicinity.
A similar version of praise and gratitude dedicated to Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga appears further in the pamphlet. These pages are followed by words of thanks and appreciation in Italian.
For hundreds of years (until the Italian unification in 1870), the Pope served not only as head of the Catholic Church, but also as governor of the Papal States. Therefore, Benedict XIV (who is blessed in the Hebrew text of this pamphlet) was the direct ruler of the Jewish community of Rome. In those times, the Jews of Rome were restricted to a ghetto located on the banks of the Tiber River, and were subject to constant flooding by the river.
Pamphlet, opens from left to right. [12] leaves (22 written pages). Fair condition. Dark stains. Traces of adhesive tape. Professionally restored tears and damages, with paper replacements to margins. The gold frames and ornamentation were reinforced and restored with added color.

Opening5,000$ Sold For7,380$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 21

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Manuscript – Kol Tefilla Kol Kinah VeKol Rinah – Prayers, Verses and Piyyutim for Fast-Days – Livorno, 1851 – Illustrated Title Page and Elaborate Leather Binding

Manuscript, "Kol Tefilla Kol Kinah VeKol Rinah according to the rites of the Livorno community", hymns, verses and piyyutim recited on fast-days at the time the Torah scroll is removed from the Holy Ark and upon its return to the ark. Livorno, 1851.
Handsome manuscript in very good condition. Illustrated title page. Black ink on high-quality thick light bluish paper. Charming square script in large vowelized lettering. Instructions in small unvowelized script. Wide margins.
Handsome contemporary leather binding, with embossed ornaments. A lace ending in two pompons is attached to the binding for use as a bookmark.
Written on the title page: "Made by Yehuda Rokach… in the beautiful city of Livorno to beseech the Lord… during the fast-day prayers". Perhaps the writer, "Yehuda Rokach" is R. Yehuda Rokach who was born in Livorno in 1840, and served as teacher in the Rabbinical Beit Midrash in Livorno - son-in-law of R. Eliyahu Ben-Amozag (died in 1899). If he is indeed the writer, this manuscript was written at the time he was only 11 years old.
Contains: Prayers upon removing the Sefer Torah from the Holy Ark on fast-days, the Psalms to be recited on the various fast-days, the piyyut "Al Hechali Evke" recited on Tisha B'Av, another piyyut for Tisha B'Av, and more.
The 22nd of Shevat appears among the fast-days. This was a special day of commemoration for the Livorno community, instituted in memory of the salvation from the 1742 earthquake. (The book "Shivchei Todah" by R. Malachi HaCohen was printed following this event). The piyyut "Eshtachave el Hechal Kodshecha…" written in commemoration of this event appears in this manuscript.
[2], 53 pages. 20.5 cm. Overall very good condition. High-quality thick paper. Most leaves are clean, only few pages are stained. Several loose leaves. Lightly penned inscriptions on four pages. Worn and rubbed leather binding.

Opening1,000$ Sold For4,920$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 22

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Manuscript, Novellae by Rabbi David Modena – Italy, 16th Century – Unprinted Composition

Manuscript, novellae and laws on treatises of Choshen Mishpat, by R. David Modena. [Italy, 16th century].
Handwritten by the author. Cursive Italian Hebrew script. Part of a hitherto unprinted long composition written by R. David Modena.
Includes novellae and summaries of treatises and views on the laws of Choshen Mishpat.
The writer reviews and expands on the Talmud and cites the Ba'alei HaTosfot and the Spanish sages and expresses his opinion or determines the halacha of that treatise (see Hebrew description for examples).
Another section of this composition is known (see digitized manuscripts on the NLI website, Wallach Manuscript 372). Another section exists in the Russian State Library in Moscow (Moscow Manuscript - Ginzburg 800-801), and that manuscript is dated 1558.
Several Italian sages with the name R. David Modena lived during the 15th and 16th centuries. One was the disciple of the Maharik. We are not certain of the identity of the author of this manuscript.
[31] leaves. 29 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains, wear and tears to several leaves. Detached leaves.

Opening5,000$ Sold For6,150$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 23

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Manuscript – Shita L’Masechet Kritot – By Rabbi Moshe Kurayif of Tunisia, Author of Be’er Moshe (Maternal Grandfather of the Author of Mishmerot Kehuna) – Unprinted Composition

Manuscript, novellae on Tractate Keritot, by R. Moshe Kurayif. [Tunisia, 18th century].
Hitherto unprinted composition, autograph writing of the author, with corrections and erasures. At the beginning of the first page is an inscription in a different handwriting: "Novellae on Kritot by R. Moshe Kurayif".
R. Moshe Kurayif leading Tunisian sage of the 18th century (died c. 1800) was a disciple of R. Tzemach Tzorfati and of R. Yitzchak Lumbroso. His son-in-law was R. Shmuel HaCohen Yitzchaki, Rabbi of Tunisia during 1801-1804, father of R. Avraham Yitzchaki, author of Mishmerot Kehuna (1802-1864). His composition Be'er Moshe on Tractate Nazir was printed in Livorno in 1852 (by his disciple R. David Bunan, author of the De Hashev responsa, son of R. Yitzchak Bunan the first) and is cited extensively in the books of the commentators, and compilations of this important work has recently been printed in the Oz V'Hadar Talmud edition. This composition has not yet been printed.
This composition is mentioned in the book Toldot Chachmei Tunis (Ma'arechet 40, p. 249), by R. Yosef Cohen Tanuji (a Tunisian sage in the 18th century), who writes: "I have heard that he authored other Shitot on the Talmud and I saw a handwritten Shita on Tractate Keritot".
In the manuscript, the author refers to his novellae on other tractates: Tractates Nazir, Bechorot, Pesachim, Kiddushin and Bava Kama. In many places, the author mentions teachings he heard without noting their sources: "I have heard", "I have heard a question", "Someone asked me". He cites novellae written in books by Achronim, some from his time, see for example leaf 13v, with mention of his cousin R. Eliyahu Chai Burgil, a Tunisian sage: "See the book Migdanot Natan".
[67] leaves. Approximately 128 written leaves. 20 cm. Fair condition. Wear and stains. Worming affecting text. Loose sheets. Worn, detached binding.
Enclosed is a report of an expert on rabbinical manuscripts.

Opening2,000$ Sold For4,428$ Including buyers premium

Auction 55a Lot Number 24

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Manuscript – Compositions on the Talmud, Makel Ya’akov and Bechorato L’Ya’akov – By Raabi Ya’akov Ben Zaken, a Leading Tunisian Sage – Unprinted Compositions

Manuscript, Makel Ya'akov on Tractate Makot, and Bechorato L'Ya'akov on Tractate Bechorot – hitherto unprinted compositions, by R. Ya'akov Ben Zaken. [Tunisia, c. 1830-1840].
Two unprinted compositions: Makel Ya'akov on Tractate Makot is complete, whereas the composition on Tractate Bechorot is lacking at the beginning (begins at leaf 17 of the tractate). Most of the composition is in the author's handwriting, with corrections and additions in the text and on the margins (from leaf 19 and on, commentary on Tractate Makot and from leaf 2 of the second pagination, on Tractate Bechorot). Approximately 42 leaves are apparently written in the handwriting of the copier (the author's introduction and first leaves of Tractate Makot, and [25] leaves at the beginning of Tractate Bechorot). At the end of the interesting introduction (leaf 2/r) the author signed "Ya'akov Ibn Elazar Ibn Zaken".
In the composition, the author cites his companions and teachers who were Tunisian sages: "My close teacher" R. Yeshu'a Basis; "My bosom friend" R. Avraham HaCohen [author of Mishmerot Kehuna]; "My bosom friend" R. Avraham Chajaj [author of Zar'o shel Avraham]; R. Shmuel Tzafaj; R. Yeshu'a Tzafaj, etc.
R. Ya'akov Ben Zaken (died in 1857) was a leading Tunisian sage in the 19th century, a dayan in the city of Tunis in the Beit Din of R. Yeshu'a Basis and R. Natan Burgil (the second). He studied Torah with R. Avraham Yitzchaki, author of Mishmerot Kehuna (1802-1864) and R. Yitzchaki eulogized R. Ya'akov referring to him as "My Torah companion" (see Chasdei Kehuna, p. 47/v, Derush 18, see ibid Derush 15). In 1851, his son R. Elazar printed Selichot and Tikun Chatzot in Livorno. This book has an introduction by his father - "the introduction of the sage R. Ya'akov Ben Zaken, who taught Torah in the city of Tunis", and he signs at the end: "Ya'akov son of Elazar Ibn Zaken". Novellae and customs are cited in his name in books authored by Tunis sages (in Zar'o shel Avraham by R. A. Chajaj, etc), and he also signed a number of regulations with Tunis rabbis during 1850-1855. His other manuscripts were not printed. In the introduction to this book, another
composition he wrote titled Nadar Ya'akov on Hilchot Nedarim is mentioned. This manuscript is mentioned by R. Shlomo Mazuz in Shem HaGedolim L'Chochmei Tunis" (Ma'arechet 7, at the end of the book Cheshek Shlomo, Part 2), who writes that he saw the manuscript of the book Makel Ya'akov.
35 leaves; [25], 2-17, 2-11, [2] leaves – total of approx. 174 written leaves. 20 cm. Fair condition, wear and worming to text. Damages and lacking text to approx. first five leaves and to the margins of approx. 15 other leaves. Unbound.
Enclosed is a report by an expert on rabbinical manuscripts.

Opening2,000$ Sold For3,690$ Including buyers premium
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