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Manuscript by Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi of Lemgo, and a Manuscript by his Disciple Rabbi Avraham Prins – Amsterdam, 18th Century – Novellae, Sermons, Letters, Notes and Memoirs – Important Historical Material Regarding the Ashkenazi Community of Amsterdam
Volume comprised of three manuscripts: · Manuscript of novellae and sermons, autograph of R. Yitzchak HaLevi of Lemgo, author of Toldot Yitzchak. · Manuscript of novellae, sermons and circumcision ledger handwritten by his disciple R. Avraham Prins of Amsterdam. · Copyings of letters and documents from that period, including letters addressed to the Pekidim and Amarkalim (officials and administrators in Amsterdam), and more.
The manuscripts were presumably bound in the beginning of the 1830s. The binding is imprinted with gilt letters: "Zera Yitzchak – Toldot Avraham". The volume contains invaluable Torah and historical material from Torah scholars and public leaders of Amsterdam in the 18th century. Below is an outline of its contents:
· Chiddushei Shas VeChiddushei Sugiot (Talmudic novella). Sermons on Halacha and Aggada: for Siyumim, in praise of the Torah and in praise of peace, for festivals and eulogies. Handwritten by R. Yitzchak Itzak HaLevi of Lemgo, a prominent Amsterdam Torah scholar and rabbi of Groningen. Amsterdam [ca. 1790]. Page 82b mentions "Admor HaGaon" (this may refer to R. Shaul Rabbi of Amsterdam, or to his son and successor R. Yaakov Moshe Lowenstam).
, 88 leaves, [1 index leaf]. Autograph of R. Yitzchak of Lemgo.
· Torah novellae and sermons. Familial and communal memoirs. Registry of circumcised babies (Mohel's ledger). Memoirs and copies of documents and letters regarding Eretz Israel. Writings about his teacher, R. Yitzchak of Lemgo. Testaments and eulogies. Handwritten by R. Avraham Prins of Amsterdam (1768-1851), a leading community activist and founder of the Pekidim and Amarkalim organization (officials and administrators in Amsterdam on behalf of the Jews in Eretz Israel), official and chief supervisor of all matters concerning Eretz Israel. [1810-1849].
147 written pages, in the handwriting of R. Avraham Prins. (Some of the signatures following the copyings may be autographic – original, not written by the copier).
R. Yitzchak Itzak (Segal) HaLevi of Lemgo (1748-1801) a prominent scholar of the Etz Chaim study hall of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam, was a disciple of R. Shaul of Amsterdam, and a close friend of his son R. Yaakov Moshe. He was amongst the prominent regular "learners" in the Beit HaMidrash and served as lecturer and dean of the yeshiva. In 1800, he was appointed rabbi of Groningen and its district.
His manuscripts underwent many vicissitudes, and numerous books and articles have been written on the subject. His great composition Toldot Yitzchak, commentary on the Tosefta, of which his disciple R. Avraham Prins (who succeeded him as head of the yeshivah) added a sample to Likutei Tzvi, Amsterdam 1809, disappeared and was only revealed to the public at auctions, first appearing in 1870 at the Friedrich Muller auction house in Amsterdam (Item 944) in three folio size volumes containing approximately 1600 leaves. In 1881, the same manuscript was offered as part of the estate of Levi Gutshlag Winifred of the Hague at the H.G. Baum auction house (Item 156). In ca. 1900, this manuscript reached the Rosenthaliana library in Amsterdam. In 1965, Joseph Onderwyser published a book in English named Mavoch (labyrinth) in which he describes in a very picturesque (and odd) manner his worldwide quest for the manuscript of the colossal work on the Tosefta, discovering it in an internal list of the Rosenthaliana library in Amsterdam. This book then raised a polemic in the press and in journals and eventually, a team of editors began publishing the commentary. So far, one volume has been published on Tractate Megillah, Jerusalem, 2002, by Machon Ofek. The volume is prefaced with a long article - the author's biography, and an account of
his tenure in the Amsterdam Beit Midrash.
This manuscript sheds light on the early history of R. Yitzchak of Lemgo's manuscript composition on the Tosefta: On p. 76 of his notebook, R. Avraham Prins documents the purchase of the manuscript at the sale of the estate of R. Yitzchak ben Mordechai of Lemgo, R. Yitzchak's nephew. He relates that it was he who bound it in three volumes "and in each volume I imprinted his name in gilt letters". He bemoans the fact that he lacks the means to publish the book. On p. 86, written at a later date, R. Avraham repeats the fact that since he realized that he was unable to publish the book, he bound it in three volumes so that his teacher's family members could study it (apparently, he returned the three volumes to the descendants of R. Yitzchak of Lemgo).
This booklet, handwritten by R. Yitzchak of Lemgo, is hitherto unknown and a discovery in its own right. R. Avraham Prins writes about it on p. 86 and about more letters "bound with this volume". Evidently, this volume was not offered at the same auctions in the 19th century at which the other three volumes by R. Yitzchak of Lemgo were sold. In addition, R. Avraham Prins' diary of memoirs and sermons discloses new details of the biography of his close teacher R. Yitzchak of Lemgo who taught him Torah and raised him in his home like his own son after he was orphaned.
The diary of the memoirs of R. Avraham Prins is of great significance, as it also reveals unknown details of the history of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam in the late 18th century and in the early 19th century.
Among them are details of the circumstances which led to the establishment of the Pekidim and Amarkalim (Officials and Administrators) organization, when a Jew left behind a will dedicating one third of his inheritance to the poor people of Eretz Israel. His heirs attempted to prevent the execution of the will, but R. Avraham together with R. Tzvi Hirsch Lehren endeavoured to collect the inheritance, initiating the establishment of the Pekidim and Amarkalim (pages 81-82). The copying of these Pekidim and Amarkalim documents is also unknown, as the book Igrot HaPekidim VeHaAmarkalim MeAmsterdam published in Jerusalem, 1965 only includes the letters sent from Amsterdam to Jerusalem, while these are copies of letters sent from Eretz Israel to Amsterdam. This material has not yet been sufficiently examined, but below is an outline of the letters' contents: Letters signed by R. Tuviah ben R. Shlomo, R. Natan Nata ben R. Menachem Mendel, R. Avraham Shlomo Zalman Shapira (Tzoref) and his son-in-law R. Aryeh ben R. Yerachmiel, treasurer and trustee. Letters from the rabbis of Hebron, Tiberias and Jerusalem.
A letter from Livorno containing a copy of a missive by R. Yisrael of Shklow, disciple of the Vilna Gaon to R. Shlomo Zalman Tsoref regarding the mission for locating the Ten Lost Tribes. (This letter is a new discovery in this enigmatic affair - See article by Dr. Aryeh Morgenstern, Sinai, 100, pp. 552-554).
Throughout the years, R. Avraham Prins recorded in this volume Torah and ethics thoughts, as well as eulogies for his offspring who died during his lifetime and wills he wrote at the age of 60 and 64. On p. 86, he wrote that "In Sivan 1838, I reached the age of 70". In his testament from 1849 he hints that he is 80 years old (p. 119), evidence to the fact he was born in 1768 or in 1769. R. Avraham Prins died in 1851.
Total of approx. 200 leaves (some are blank). 19.5 cm. Thick high-quality paper, very good condition. Original leather binding with gilt inscription and ornaments, in very good condition. Minor repair of tear to back cover. Ex-libris.
Letter (2 pages, approx. 40 lines) handwritten and signed by R. Yaakov Ettlinger, author of Aruch LaNer. [Altona, ca. 1868].
Responsum of Torah thoughts pertaining to the inspection of sacrifices and other topics, addressed to "my son-in-law the rabbi" (presumably his son-in-law R. Yisrael Meir Freimann, Rabbi of Filehne – see below), and signed at the end "so are the words of your father-in-law Yaakov".
The Aruch LaNer includes in his letter a copying from his novellae on Tractate Pesachim: "...so I wrote in my miscellany. And from here you see, my son-in-law, that my thoughts parallel yours, and you wrote well, particularly in the difficulty you raised… which indeed is an excellent question, and I heard it several years ago from a certain Torah scholar from Königsberg (whose name presently eludes me)…".
The letter is undated, but in his words the Aruch LaNer refers to new books printed in 1861-1868 (see Hebrew description).
R. Yaakov Ettlinger (1789-1872, Otzar HaRabbanim 9805), chief rabbi of Altona and the surroundings and rabbi of Altona, was a foremost leader of German Jewry and one of the strongest opponents of the Reform movement. In his youth, he served as lecturer in the yeshiva of his father, R. Aharon Ettlinger in Karlsruhe, and was one of the primary disciples of R. Asher Wallerstein, son of the Shaagat Aryeh and rabbi of the city. He also studied in the Würzburg yeshiva under R. Avraham Bing, and was a colleague of Chacham Yitzchak Bernays of Hamburg and R. Elazar Bergman of Jerusalem.
In ca. 1828, he was appointed dean of the yeshiva and rabbi of the Kloiz in Mannheim, and in 1836, went to serve as rabbi of the Three Communities (Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek), where he established a prominent yeshiva. R. Yaakov Ettlinger dedicated his life to disseminating Torah, and leading German rabbis were his disciples, the most renowned ones include: R. Samson Refael Hirsch; R. Azriel Hildesheimer, R. Tzvi Binyamin Auerbach Rabbi of Halberstadt and author of Nachal Eshkol, R. Getsch Schlesinger dayan in Hamburg, R. Eliyahu Munk dayan in Altona and his son R. Yehuda Munk Rabbi of Marburg, R. Zev Yitzchak HaLevi Dunner of Köln author of LiChevod Amudei HaTorah, R. Moshe Weisskopf Rabbi of Paris, and other renowned disciples who were the glory of German communities in that generation.
He authored the following books: Aruch LaNer on Talmudic tractates, Bikurei Yaakov, Responsa Binyan Tzion, Minchat Ani on the Torah and others. He was the founder and author of the Orthodox periodical Shomer Tzion HaNe'eman. His books are studied until this day in Torah study halls, and his teachings are quoted extensively in Halachic literature. Already in his generation, he was considered a leading Halachic authority, and Halachic questions were referred to him from Jerusalem and throughout the Jewish world. R. Yosef Shaul Natansohn wrote in several dispensations for Agunot, that he will issue a permission only if the "Gaon from Altona" will concur with him (Shoel UMeshiv, Telitaa, part II, 216; part III, 87). He was the supreme authority amongst German rabbis, and even the great Torah scholar from Würzburg, R. Yitzchak Dov Bamberger wrote regarding him: "and since then, I would bring any difficulty before leading Torah scholars of the generation, R. M. Kargau and my mechutan R. Yaakov Ettlinger… before them I posed any difficult matter" (Responsa Yad HaLevi, Jerusalem 1988, p. 60). After his passing and that of the Ktav Sofer the same year, Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Deyzh termed them the righteous men of the generation (Maaglei Tzedek, I, Parashat Vaera).
The recipient of this letter was presumably his son-in-law R. Yisrael Meir Freimann (1830-1884), Rabbi of Filehne (Wieleń) and Ostrowo (Ostrów Wielkopolski, Posen Province), author of Anfei Yehuda on the VeHizhir book. He exchanged extensive correspondence with his father-in-law the Aruch LaNer on various topics, some of which was published in Responsa Binyan Tzion, mostly in part III of the new edition of Likutei Teshuvot – Binyan Tzion (Dvar Yerushalayim publication, Jerusalem 2002). This responsum was not published in the new edition of Binyan Tzion, yet it does contain a different responsum addressed to R. Shlomo Bamberger, in Elul 1868 (Responsa Binyan Tzion, part III – Likutei Teshuvot, section 121), criticizing and contesting the words of the Shoel UMeshiv in his approbation to the book of R. Bamberger, which was published that year. That responsum mentions that the Aruch LaNer previously corresponded with his son-in-law R. Yisrael Meir Freimann on the topic, and passages from this letter are cited in that responsum. It results therefore, that the recipient of this letter is his son-in-law R. Yisrael Meir Freimann, and that this letter was written prior to Elul 1868.
 leaf. 21 cm. 2 written pages, approx. 40 lines. Thin, blueish stationery, good condition. Creases and light stains.
Autograph manuscript of R. Samson Refael Hirsch – sections of his commentary to the Torah and of translations of verses from Bamidbar, written in German and Hebrew and arranged for print [Frankfurt am Main, ca. 1870s].
These sixteen leaves contain the commentary of R. Samson Refael Hirsch beginning with Naso, chapter 6 verse 19, until Behaalotecha chapter 10, verse 12; and the German translation of the verses of Naso, chapter 6, verse 22 through Behaalotecha chapter 10 verse 28.
Author's autograph, with deletions and additions. 32 large pages in close, small handwriting. The main part of the text is the lengthy commentary by R. Samson Refael Hirsch. The margins contain the translation of the verses to German, as well as additions and corrections to the commentary. (The text of the printed book incorporates these additions and corrections, and this manuscript is presumably the revised edition of the commentary, brought to print in 1876. The manuscript contains emphasized words, which were also emphasized in print). The composition was published in the author's lifetime in Frankfurt, between 1867 and 1878, and later published in further editions, in several languages.
R. Shimshon ben R. Refael Hirsch (1808-1888) was the legendary leader of German Orthodox Jewry and founder of the association of independent communities. He was a disciple of Chacham Bernays of Hamburg, and of R. Yaakov Etlinger, the Aruch LaNer of Altona. At the age of 22, he began serving in the rabbinates of Oldenburg, Emden and Nikolsburg. In 1850, he was summoned by eleven orthodox families in Frankfurt am Main to stand at the helm of the new orthodox community Adat Yeshurun. R. Samson Refael Hirsch was the first to attempt to stem the rapid spiritual decline of German Jewry, painstakingly rebuilding Orthodox Jewry in Germany. His Halachic and Torah authority earned him the undisputed position of leader of Orthodox Jewry in Western Europe. He invested great effort in establishing the independent communities in various German cities, and educated an entire generation to Torah and observance, through his discourses, books and essays (the Nineteen Letters, Horeb and others), which were originally delivered and written in German, and have since been translated and published in many editions, in Hebrew and other languages.
His magnum-opus is undoubtedly his expansive commentary on the Torah, which contains profound philosophical ideas of Jewish ideology, faith and ethics, composition which serves until this day as a basis for books on Jewish thought and for many lecturers. This work is a commentary on the Torah based on the teachings of Chazal and the early commentators, incorporating original ideas by the author, on man's duty in this world, which are supported by his profound knowledge in Kabbalah, "though he never mentions Kabbalistic works in his commentary, Kabbalists have already pronounced that his commentary on the Torah was profoundly influenced by the Zohar…" (Shemesh Marpeh, New York 1992, pp. 308-309). An eye witness testified that the draft notebooks of his commentary contain many quotations from the Zohar (ibid.), though in this manuscript, which contains the commentary prepared for print, the sources of those quotations were omitted. In his commentaries pertaining to Halachic topics, his distinct and comprehensive knowledge of Talmudic topics is apparent, including of subjects of Kodashim and Taharot. Reputedly, the Ktav Sofer, when he met him in his youth, was impressed with his erudition and the breadth of his knowledge of Talmud and Halacha, saying: "…whichever topic we discussed, anywhere in the Talmud and in Halacha, he was fluent" (Shemesh Marpeh, p. 290). In the approbations to his responsa work Shemesh Marpeh (New York, 1992), the leading Torah scholars of our generation describe the importance of R. Samson Refael Hirsch's works: "His famous compositions, in all of which his objective was to demonstrate the supremacy and truth of our holy Torah… and to establish religious observance without any deviation whatsoever from the tradition of our ancestors and teachers… (the words of R. Elazar Menachem Shach in his approbation); "A leader in Jewish thought, ceaseless in his endeavors to establish religious observance" (the words of R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in his approbation).
 leaves, written on both sides. 28-29 cm. Thin, high-quality paper, some leaves blueish. Good-fair condition. Stains and ink spillages. Tears and wear with slight damage to text. Without binding.
A letter of rabbinical ordination handwritten and signed by R. Azriel Hildesheimer – semicha ("yoreh yoreh yadin yadin") for his disciple R. Meir son of R. Wolf Austerlitz. Eisenstadt, .
R. Azriel's wax seal is imprinted in the margins under his signature.
R. Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899), an eminent rabbi, disciple of the author of Aruch LaNer and of R. Yitzchak Berneis of Hamburg. From 1851-1869, served as Rabbi in Eisenstadt, and introduced an innovative yeshiva integrating secular studies with Torah study, following the principle of Torah with Derech Eretz, provoking opposition and criticism both from the Reform Movement and from certain sects of the Orthodox community. Nonetheless, Hungarian and German Torah leaders perceived his greatness and supported his yeshiva. In 1869, he was appointed Rabbi of Berlin, wherein he established the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary and stood at the helm of German Orthodox Jewry.
The recipient of the semicha, R. Meir HaLevi Austerlitz (died in 1913), officiated as dayan in Eisenstadt. Son of R. Binyamin Ze'ev Wolf HaLevi Austerlitz, dayan in Eisenstadt and son-in-law of R. Yechezkel Moshe Fishman Rabbi of Miskolc.
Double leaf, approx. 34 cm. Good condition. Stains. Folding marks. Tiny tears to margins.
Lengthy and interesting letter, handwritten and signed by R. Yisrael Lipschitz, author of Tiferet Yisrael. Danzig (Gdańsk), Yom Kippur eve, 1854.
Addressed to Sir Moses Montefiore and his wife Yehudit, and enclosing a copy of the book Tiferet Yisrael on Order Kodashim (printed in Königsberg 1850). The letter begins with wishes for a "year of blessing and success" and concludes: "…so are the words of the one who loves you and reveres you, who extends his blessings to you for the new year and for a good final sealing, and wishes you a joyous festival – Yisrael Lipschitz".
In the body of the letter, R. Yisrael expresses his gratitude to the Montefiore family for their financial support in publishing the book, and refers to mentioning Sir Moses Montefiore and his wife on the title pages, in blessing: "I hereby present you with my book on order Kodashim which G-d granted me… take a look and see my honored ones, your names mentioned in blessing… on the title page… and the merit of the Holy Torah… and the merit of those who study this holy book, will stand for you, honored couple, and may your memory be blessed throughout the land, from the extremities of the Rhine river until the borders of Russia and Turkey, which is how far, G-d be praised, these books have reached, and may your names upon the title pages of Tiferet Yisrael glow like the luminaries light up the sky…".
R. Yisrael Lipschitz (1782-1860) is renowned for his monumental composition Tiferet Yisrael on the six orders of Mishna, which was accepted by the entire Jewish world and has been reprinted in hundreds of editions until this day. He was the son of R. Gedalia Lipschitz author of Regel Yeshara, and grandson of R. Yisrael Lipschitz Rabbi of Cleves. An outstanding Torah scholar and a foremost leader of German Jewry, he sat studying Torah the entire day, bedecked in Tallit and Tefillin beneath his outer coat, and was renowned as a holy and G-d fearing man. He served as rabbi for over fifty years, in the communities of Dessau, Danzig and others. Apart from Tiferet Yisrael on the Mishna, he composed many other books, of homilies, novellae and Halachic rulings.
 leaf, approx. 27 cm. Approx. 24 autograph lines and signature, in neat calligraphic script. Thin, blueish-grayish stationery. Fair-good condition. Tears and creases. Adhesive tape repairs.
Leaf, handwritten on both sides – Two authorizations, accepting members to the Chevrat Mishnayot in the city of Volozhin, signed by the members of the society, including the signatures of R. Chaim of Volozhin, author of Nefesh HaChaim and of his eldest brother, R. Simcha of Volozhin. Volozhin, 1764.
This document was issued by the society of Torah study in Volozhin, in which R. Chaim of Volozhin participated. He signed this document at the age of 15, a decade before he was appointed Rabbi of Volozhin and many years before he established his famous yeshiva in the city.
On one side of the leaf is an authorization written on the 8th of Iyar 1764, accepting R. Shmuel son of R. Shimon to the Chevrat Mishnayot.
The last signature appearing on the leaf is "Chaim son of R. Yitzchak" – The signature of R. Chaim of Volozhin [next to his signature, the word "of Volozhin" was written in another handwriting].
The other signatures: "Mordechai son of Meir", "Aryeh Leib son of R. Yitzchak", "Simcha son of R. Yitzchak", "Moshe son of R. Yaakov", "Yeshaya son of Chaim Zecharya", "Avraham son of R. Aharon", "Shimshon son of R. Moshe".
On the other side of the leaf is an authorization for accepting R. Avraham Duber son of R. Yehuda Yidel and his son-in-law R. Avril and R. Yaakov his brother, dated Tuesday, the 11th of MarCheshvan 1764.
The last signature is: "Chaim son of R. Yitzchak" – Signature of R. Chaim of Volozhin.
The other signatures: "Zvi Hirsh son of R. H…", "Simcha son of R. Yitzchak", "Moshe son of R. Yitzchak", "Avraham son of R. Aharon".
Apparently the signature "Simcha son of R. Yitzchak" belongs to R. Simcha of Volozhin, eldest brother of R. Chaim.
R. Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821), author of Nefesh HaChaim, Torah luminary who stood at the helm of Lithuanian Jewry and was active in advancing Torah study. Born in Volozhin, son of R. Yitzchak, a community leader, close disciple of the Vilna Gaon and founder or the Volozhin yeshiva, forerunner of Lithuanian yeshivot. In his youth, he was a disciple of R. Refael HaCohen of Hamburg, author of Torah Yekutiel at the time the latter officiated as rabbi in Minsk and continued his studies at the yeshiva of the Shaagat Aryeh during his second tenure in the Volozhin rabbinate. He then basked in the luminance of the Vilna Gaon, becoming his most prominent disciple and clinging to his venerable teacher for many years until the Gaon's passing. His companion and friend R. Yisrael of Shklow lavishly praised R. Chaim in the introduction to his work Taklin Chadtin, using superlative titles describing his Torah greatness and pure character.
In 1774, at about the age of 25, R. Chaim was appointed Rabbi of Volozhin and held this position until 1789. He then relocated to serve as Rabbi of Ukmergė (Vilkmergė), however due to opposition by a number of members of that community, he returned to Volozhin after only one year, officiating as rabbi until his passing. He was an active leader, wrote halachic responsa to great Torah scholars in his times and was the decisive opinion on current issues in his days. His yeshiva thrived under his management and drew disciples from all over Lithuania, becoming a prototype of other yeshivot founded throughout Lithuania. In contrast to his teacher, the Vilna Gaon, who severely opposed the Chassidic movement, R. Chaim believed that their intent was praiseworthy and their claims should be addressed. This led to his famous work "Nefesh HaChaim", outlining pure conduct and service of G-d according to exoteric and esoteric Torah teachings, following the teachings of the Vilna Gaon and his disciples.
R. Simcha of Volozhin and Nyasvizh, eldest brother of R. Chaim of Volozhin was an exceptional Torah scholar and diligently studied together with his younger brother day and night, both were disciples of the Shaagat Aryeh. If the oil lamp burned out, they would study Torah by moonlight as recounted by R. Itzele of Volozhin in his introduction to Nefesh HaChaim, telling the history of his father: "From his youth, he studied Torah with amazing diligence and at the age of 14, studied together with his elder brother, R. Simcha and they would study day and night…". R. Simcha guided his younger brother in the manner of toiling in Torah study. R. Yosef Zundel of Salant recounts that his teacher R. Chaim of Volozhin told him that he is grateful to his brother R. Simcha "for etching faith in his heart for 48 years with all that a man must know" (HaTzaddik Rabbi Yosef Zundel M'Salant V'Rabbotav, Jerusalem 1926, p. 113). Reputedly, he officiated in the rabbinate of a Lithuanian city (perhaps in Nyasvizh, his home for many years). At the age of 24, he wrote the book Kitzur Piskei Dinim similar to the format of Simlah Chadasha authored by the author of Tevu'ot Shor.
 leaf,  written pages. 19.5 cm. Fair-good condition. Stains, dark stains and ink smears. Wear and tiny tears to margins. Folding marks.
Handwritten leaf – letter of appointment, by notables of the Volozhin community appointing R. Chaim of Volozhin to a three-year tenure as Rabbi of their community from Iyar 1782 until Iyar 1785, with another letter of appointment appointing him to another three-year term, from Iyar 1785 until Iyar 1788.
On one side of the leaf is the first letter signed by dignitaries of the Volozhin community expressing their unanimous decision to appoint R. Chaim to the community rabbinate, signed by community leaders and rabbis: "Duber son of R. Yehuda Yedel", "Aryeh Leib son of R. Yitzchak", "Yonah Avraham son of R. Yehuda Yedel", "Shmuel son of R. Avraham", "Avraham son of R. Aharon", "Yehuda Leib son of R. Mordechai", "Dov Ber son of R. Yosef", "Aryeh Leib son of R. Yitzchak Isaac".
On the verso of the document is a similar text dated Monday, the 3rd of MarCheshvan 1785, extending R. Chaim's term in the rabbinate for another three years from the end of the previous term: "From the 4th of Iyar 1785 until the 4th of Iyar 1788…". Signed by community leaders and rabbis: "Avraham son of R. Aharon", "Dov Ber son of R. Yosef", "Ozer son of R. Naftali", "Yehuda Leib son of R. Mordechai", "Aryeh Leib son of R. Yitzchak Isaac", "Aharon Zelig son of R. Michael", "Shmuel son of R. Avraham".
R. Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821), close disciple of the Vilna Gaon and founder or the Volozhin yeshiva, forerunner of Lithuanian yeshivot. Born in Volozhin to his father, R. Yitzchak, a community leader. In his youth, he was a disciple of R. Refael HaCohen of Hamburg, author of Torah Yekutiel, at the time the latter officiated as rabbi in Minsk and continued his studies at the yeshiva of the Shaagat Aryeh during the latter's second tenure in the Volozhin rabbinate.
In 1774, at about the age of 25, R. Chaim was appointed Rabbi of Volozhin and held this position until 1789. He then relocated to serve as Rabbi of Ukmergė (Vilkmergė), however due to opposition by a number of members of that community, he returned to the Volozhin after only one year, officiating as rabbi until his passing.
Following the common practice in those days, a rabbi was appointed for only three years (see the Chatam Sofer responsa, Orach Chaim, Siman 206: "The custom in most of the Diaspora is to write a rabbinic contract for a limited time, sometimes for three years and at times for five years. The reason for this is cited in Choshen Mishpat Siman 333, prohibiting a person to lease himself for more than three years, which changes his status from an employee to a slave and one is prohibited to enslave himself"). After three years, the community leaders would assemble to renew the rabbi's contract and would sign another three-year contract. These letters of appointment are for three years from 1782 to 1785 and from 1785 to 1788.
Double leaf,  written pages. 20.5 cm. Fair condition. Stains, dampstains. Wear and tears to margins. Folding marks.
Letter Written by Lviv Community Members to Their Rabbi, Author of Yeshuot Yaakov – Appointment of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Charif, Succeeding Kabbalist Rabbi Meshulam Katz, Author of Ikar Tosfot Yom Tov – Lviv, 1810
Historical document – letter bearing 45 signatures of Lviv (Lvov) community notables, sent to the Rabbi of the city, R. Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein (author of Yeshuot Yaakov). Lviv, Adar Bet 1810.
The community members signed an appointment document requesting the city rabbi to appoint a Magid Mesharim (preacher) and posek in the city to succeed the holy kabbalist R. Meshulam HaCohen [died during Sukkot of that year], particularly requesting the appointment of R. Zvi Hirsh Charif (Heller) Rabbi of Brzesko (Brigel; author of Tiv Gittin) to fill this position. Historic document related to the history of the Lviv community [the history of the Lviv community has been lengthily documented in the book Klilat Yofi (Krakow, 1888, 1893), however this document of appointment is not mentioned there].
The letter contains praise of their late rabbi who led the community for many years. They also write of their wish to continue strengthening Torah study and describe their fervent wish to appoint a prominent Torah scholar to teach Torah in their community [in the end, R. Zvi Hirsch did not accept the position; he chose to head the Brody Yeshiva].
Kabbalist R. Meshulam Cohen Tzedek (1758-1810), author of Ikar Tosfot Yom Tov on the Mishnah and Pitchei Nidah on the laws of Nidah, officiated as Rabbi of Korets from 1788, succeeding his brother Kabbalist R. Yitzchak Isaac HaCohen, author of Brit Kehunat Olam, disciple of the Magid of Mezritch. In the early 1790s, he was appointed magid and posek of "out of town" Lviv [the name a large suburb of Lviv. Eminent Torah scholars officiated as rabbis of "out of town" and their status was similar to deputy rabbi of greater Lviv]. Descendant of Kabbalist R. Naftali Katz, author of Semicha Chachamim, he studied kabbalah extensively and published his brother's profound book Brit Kehunat Olam. He endorsed many books, including books with kabbalistic and Chassidic content and the books of the Admor HaZaken, Baal HaTanya.
R. Zvi Hirsch Heller (1776-1835, Encyclopedia L'Chachmei Galicia, Vo. 2, pp. 665-671), prominent Rabbi of Galicia and Hungary hailed as "R. Hirsch Charif" (the sharp), due to his genius and cleverness. Rabbi of Brzesko in Galicia and later head of the renowned Brody Yeshiva. Slanderous accusations compelled him to flee the city to Hungary, there he officiated in the Bonyhád, Uzhhorod and Óbuda (Alt-Ofen) rabbinates. Many leading rabbis were his disciples, such as R. Zvi Hirsch of Liska (Olaszliszka) and R. Shlomo Ganzfried, author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Author of the Tiv Gittin novellae and other compositions.
Large leaf. 38 cm. Written on both sides. Good condition. Stains and wear.
Collection of handwritten leaves, novellae on Tractate Bava Metzia – Daf 2-5. Autograph of 29 pages, handwritten by R. Nachum Weisfish of Shadik (Szadek). Jerusalem, 1847. The top of the first page contains an opening title: "Bava Metzia, [Daf] 2. Here in the holy city of Jerusalem, Tuesday Iyar 4, 1847". R. Nachum Rabbi of Shadik (1813-1868) was the son of R. Moshe Avraham Loew Weisfish and disciple of the Chemdat Shlomo, a leading Torah scholar in Poland, who granted him rabbinical ordination at the age of 18. He served as rabbi of Shadik, Poland for a few years, and immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1843 together with his two brothers, R. Asher Lemel Rabbi of Gołyń and R. Yaakov Yehuda Leib, following a dream they all three dreamt separately, instructing them to immigrate to Eretz Israel. In Jerusalem, he would sit for the main part of the day bedecked with Tallit and Tefillin, learning with great diligence. He founded Yeshivat HaRan, where he delivered scholarly lectures to the leading young Torah scholars of Jerusalem. He learnt Kabbalah together with R. Yosef Zundel of Salant from the Kabbalist R. Yehuda HaKohen. He passed away in a Cholera epidemic in 1868 and his epitaph on the Mount of Olives reads: "A holy and pure man, at the age of eight he began searching for G-d and devoted his whole life to Torah, fasts and ascetism. He studied Torah without respite, day and night. He merited to learn and teach, and edified many disciples… A pious and modest man…". This composition was presumably composed whilst learning with his disciples in Yeshivat HaRan, where he taught the tractates Ketubot and Bava Metzia only for approximately ten years. The novella were published based on a manuscript in his book Avnei Kodesh (Jerusalem 1971; Jerusalem 2012). 15 leaves. 21.5 cm. Written on both sides – a total of 29 autograph pages. Thick, dark paper. Fair-good condition. Stains and wear. Detached leaves. Damage to text at the margins.
Lengthy letter (approx. 65 lines) handwritten and signed by R. Yosef Shaul Natansohn, author of Shoel UMeshiv, addressed to R. Yaakov Shlomo Heilprin, a rabbi of Premishlan (Peremyshliany). [Lviv], Adar 1852.
Interesting halachic responsum, regarding disqualifying a Shochet in Premishlan. In this responsum, the Shoel UMeshiv discusses laws of testimony and dayanim, and responds to several responsa and polemic letters sent to him regarding this Shochet. This responsum discloses the interesting combination of R. Yosef Shaul's leadership. On the one hand, his resolute defence of the honor of the dayanim of the city, and his great concern for upholding Kashrut, on the other hand, his obvious considerateness and sensitivity for the dignity and livelihood of the disqualified Shochet (even adding in the address a special request to be particular not to deprive the emissary of his tip).
The Shoel UMeshiv writes his clear conclusion, prohibiting that Shochet to act as Shochet and Bodek in Premishlan, but on the other hand requests that the town find a different source of livelihood for his family. He writes with decisiveness yet compassion: "Accept my compassion for this person and his family, undoubtedly children depend on him, and these young sheep, what wrong did they commit, therefore my beloved friends, provide him with some source of income, until he repents, admits his wrongdoing and undertakes not to return to his foolishness, then he will be able to find sustenance for himself and his household, whether in this city or in different places. And it is very distressing that he was enticed to behave so, and lost his source of sustenance by his own fault… and until his fitness is established with unequivocal testimony, he is henceforth disqualified from ritual slaughtering. This too I do out of mercy for him, but there is no mercy in judgement, and I will not make my Torah a deception, and the One whose Name is truth should guide me in the path of the truth, since my whole aspiration is for truth".
In the lines of the address, an interesting note is added in the handwriting of the Shoel UMeshiv, requesting a tip be paid to the emissary transmitting this letter.
R. Yosef Shaul Natansohn (1808-1875) was a leading Torah scholar in Galicia. Already in his youth, he composed together with his brother-in-law R. Mordechai Zev Ettinger the books Mefarshei HaYam on Bava Kama and Magen Giborim on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim. He sent responses to thousands of queries, and authored many books: Responsa Shoel UMeshiv – 15 parts; Divrei Shaul on the Torah, Rambam and Shulchan Aruch; Yadot Nedarim and others. From 1857, he served as Chief Rabbi of Lviv, which was the largest and principal Galician community. After his passing, he was eulogized by R. Shlomo Zalman Spitzer (son-in-law of the Chatam Sofer): "A leader of outstanding Torah scholars, master of the entire Jewish people… whom all the leading Torah scholars of our times addressed their questions to on difficult matters… he was holy from birth and was raised in holiness to Torah and worship of G-d… already 40 years ago, my father-in-law the Chatam Sofer praised him effusively and termed him a Gaon...".
The recipient of the letter: R. Yaakov Shlomo Heilprin (1827-1895), rabbi of Dunayev and Premishlan, was the son of R. Dov Berish Heilprin Rabbi of Premishlan. He maintained close ties with R. Yosef Shaul Natansohn, and judging by the large number of responsa addressed to him contained in Responsa Shoel UMeshiv, it appears that he was one of his confidants. He composed the booklet Yefeh Anaf on the history of the Heilprin family.
 double leaf, 21.5 cm. 2 written pages. Fair-good condition. Marginal wear. Creases and folding marks.
This responsum was printed based on this manuscript in Responsa Shoel UMeshiv seventh edition (Jerusalem, 1995), Yoreh De'ah section 2, pp. 108-110 (with a few errors).
Letter of blessings in honor of the 70th birthday of R. Azriel Hildesheimer, by rabbis and notables of the city of Kaunas (Kovne), including R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, Rabbi of Kaunas, and R. Yitzchak Blazer, Rabbi of St. Petersburg. Kaunas, 1890.
A long letter on a large-format leaf. The first four lines are in the handwriting of R. Yitzchak Elchanan, followed by a letter in scribal writing with good wishes and blessings in honor of R. Azriel's 70th birthday.
The margins bear the signature and stamp of R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor and four signatures of Kaunas rabbis and notables: R. Yitzchak Meir Rabinowitz, Rabbi of Slobodka (then a suburb of Kaunas); R. Yitzchak (Itzele) Blazer, Rabbi of St. Petersburg"; R. Baruch Broide, Kaunas notable and follower of the Musar Movement and R. Zvi Hirsh Soltzovsky, son-in-law of R. Yitzchak Elchanan.
Beside the signatures of the Rabbis appears the stamp of Kollel Perushim in Kaunas with the inscription: "Society of founders of our People's philanthropists established by the Torah scholars of our times to support those who study Torah and to guide them in Torah learning and fear [of G-d] to train them to become Torah authorities".
R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896), a Torah luminary in his generation, renowned for his exceptional Torah knowledge, his diligence and outstanding piety. The supreme Torah authority of his times, he led Lithuanian and Russian Jewry for years with wisdom and compassion. Officiated in the rabbinate from ca. 1837 and in 1864, was appointed Rabbi of Kaunas (Kovne), his name spreading all over the world as a leading posek. His responsa and novellae are printed in his books Be'er Yitzchak, Nachal Yitzchak and Ein Yitzchak.
R. Yitzchak (Itzele) Blazer (1837-1907), prominent disciple of R. Yisrael of Salant, luminary in his days and disseminator of the Musar Movement. Officiated in the rabbinate of the capital city St. Petersburg and from 1862-1878, headed the Kovne Kollel. In his senior years, he moved to Jerusalem. Authored Pri Yitzchak Responsa and Kochvei Or which he published together with the book Or Yisrael by his revered teacher, R. Yisrael of Salant.
R. Yitzchak Meir Rabinowitz (1843-1891), Lithuanian Torah scholar, Rabbi of Žasliai, later of Slobodka (from ca. 1885).
The recipient, R. Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899), a leader in his times, was a disciple of the Aruch LaNer and of R. Yitzchak Bernays of Hamburg. He served as rabbi of Eisenstadt between 1851-1869 where he founded an innovative yeshiva integrating secular studies according to the Torah with Derech Eretz doctrine. This move drew opposition and criticism both from the Reform movement and from certain sects of Orthodox Judaism. However, the leading rabbis of Hungary and Germany recognized his greatness and backed his yeshiva. In 1869, he was appointed rabbi of Berlin, where he established the Rabbinical seminary, standing at the helm of Orthodox Jewry in Germany.
R. Yitzchak Elchanan and R. Azriel Hildesheimer developed a close relationship during their mutual activities on behalf of the Jewish People, R. Yitzchak Elchanan from his base in Russia and R. Azriel from Germany. Among other joint undertakings, they labored to assist Russian Jewry after the 1881 pogroms (Sufot BaNegev), establishing a relief committee for Russian Jewry in Berlin; both luminaries extended great efforts to annul decrees against the Jewish People from their respective countries.
 leaf. 36 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains. Folding marks, filing holes.
Lengthy and interesting letter handwritten and signed by R. Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin – the Netziv of Volozhin. Volozhin (Valozhyn) 1890.
Addressed to R. Azriel Hildesheimer in Berlin, the letter contains heartfelt blessings in flowery terms, on the occasion of his 70th birthday – "May G-d add to him years of life, vitalize him, guard him and satisfy him… and may his fragrance be amongst his people like the wine of Harel and Ariel". The Netziv praises his accomplishments in the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin: "I am like the masses of the Jewish nation, who know and understand that he has achieved much, by building and planting in Prussia (Germany) a place for the study of Torah and Halacha, an abode for the honor and service of G-d, and he is comparable to the glow of the stars, who illuminate the night for the multitudes. Therefore, I hereby extend by blessings and prayers, that G-d should help him build more pathways to serving Him and may the light of the merit of the Torah guide his ways, to draw after him the Jewish people pleasantly…".
The Netziv signs off the letter with a request from R. Azriel Hildesheimer to in turn bless him: "And may I as well be blessed with his blessings, to continue guarding the yeshiva, at the age when one already requires rest from old age. I, his friend who is loaded with a great deal of work. Awaiting G-d's salvation – Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin".
R. Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin – the Netziv of Volozhin (1817-1893), a foremost and outstanding Torah scholar of his generation, was the son-in-law of R. Yitzchak of Volozhin and his successor as dean of the yeshiva for decades. His father, R. Yaakov Berlin of Mir (1794-1868), immigrated to Jerusalem in 1854 and was one of the leaders of the Prushim community in Jerusalem.
Known for his great diligence and brilliance, the Netziv led the Volozhin yeshiva with devotion and love for many years, until the yeshiva became the main breeding ground for Torah leaders who were the glory of Lithuanian, Russian and Polish Jewry. With his noble personality and profound, thorough erudition, he produced generations of eminent Torah scholars, yeshiva deans, dayanim and rabbis. He was also engaged in public leadership and his opinion was conclusive for all community matters in Russia and Lithuania. He responded to halachic queries which many rabbis sent to him, customarily signing his letters in those years as "he who is laden with work". He composed many books, including HaEmek She'ela – novellae on She'iltot; HaEmek Davar on the Torah; Responsa Meishiv Davar; Talmudic novellae and commentaries on Halachic midrashim: Mechilta, Sifri and Sifra.
The recipient of the letter, R. Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899), a leader in his times, was a disciple of the Aruch LaNer and of R. Yitzchak Bernays of Hamburg. He served as rabbi of Eisenstadt between 1851-1869 where he founded an innovative yeshiva integrating secular studies according to the Torah with Derech Eretz doctrine. This move drew opposition and criticism both from the Reform movement and from certain sects of Orthodox Judaism. However, the leading rabbis of Hungary and Germany recognized his greatness and backed his yeshiva. In 1869, he was appointed rabbi of Berlin, where he established the Rabbinical seminary, standing at the helm of Orthodox Jewry in Germany.
 leaf, official stationery. 25 cm. 17 handwritten lines. Good-fair condition. Stains and creases. Minor wear.
Interesting letter handwritten and signed by R. Yechiel Michel HaLevi Epstein Rabbi of Navahrudak, author of Aruch HaShulchan, to his relative R. Yosef David [Shachor] Rabbi of Siemiatycze. Navahrudak, Shevat 1904.
In an interesting letter, R. Yechiel Michel announces the engagement of his granddaughter Rashke [orphaned daughter of his son-in-law R. Efraim Zalman Shachor-Warhaftig, brother of R. Yosef David recipient of this letter], with R. Yehonatan Nachumovsky, nephew of R. Eliyahu Chaim Meisel of Lodz. At the end of this joyful letter, R. Yechiel Michel blesses the recipient "that he should see pleasure and satisfaction from his progeny and their children forever".
The Aruch HaShulchan recounts all the details of the shidduch and the undertakings of all parties. He relates that his son R. Baruch Epstein of Pinsk [author of Torah Temima] suggested the match and describes the progress of the shidduch, completed in Vilna in the home of his son, R. Dov Ber [the orphaned bride was a niece to both him and his wife Lifsha (Shachor), from her paternal and maternal sides, see article by R. Eitam Henkin, Chapters in the history of the author of Aruch HaShulchan, Yeshurun, 27, p. 662].
R. Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1908), Rabbi of Navahrudak, leading Lithuanian posek. Authored Aruch HaShulchan on the four parts of the Shulchan Aruch and other books. Disciple of R. Eliyahu Rabbi of Babruysk and disciple of R. Itzele in the Volozhin Yeshiva. Son-in-law of R. Yaakov Berlin (the Netziv's father) and by second marriage father-in-law of the Netziv's brother-in-law.
The recipient, R. Yosef David Shachor (died 1906), grandson of R. Chaim Leib Shachor of Mir [brother-in-law of R. Yechiel Michel, sons-in-law of R. Yaakov Berlin of Mir]. His late brother was R. Yechiel Michel's son-in-law, sons of R. Alexander Ziskind Shachor of Ruzhany and Jerusalem. R. Yosef David was the disciple of his relative the Netziv of Volozhin. Served 11 years in the Antopal community and from 1900 as Rabbi of Siemiatycze.
Several letters by the Aruch HaShulchan to R. Yosef David Rabbi of Siemiatycze about the shidduch and marriage of R. Yosef David's niece were printed in the book Zecher Avot [containing the history of the Shachor family, Tel Aviv, 1993, pp. 286-289], however, this letter does not appear in the book and is hitherto unknown.
Postcard, 9X14 cm. 13 lines handwritten and signed by him. Good condition.
Lengthy letter handwritten and signed by R. Yaakov David Ridvaz. [Safed?], Shevat 1909.
Lengthy halachic responsum, regarding a "dispensation of one hundred rabbis" for a man whose wife does not conform with Jewish law. The letter itself consists of 27 lines in his handwriting, with some 30 lines of additions, written in the margins, between the lines and on the verso of the leaf.
The Ridvaz – R. Yaakov David Willowsky (1845-1913), was a prominent Torah scholar renowned since his youth as a leading Torah scholar in his generation. He served as rabbi in several places, including Slutsk, Chicago and Safed. He would commonly sign with the acronym Ridvaz (which originally stood for Rinat Yaakov David Ben Zev, yet later, when the name Refael was added to him during an illness, it simply stood for his initials Refael Yaakov David Ben Zev. See his preface to his book Responsa Beit Ridvaz). He composed many books, yet his magnum-opus remains his comprehensive commentary on Jerusalem Talmud, and most editions of Jerusalem Talmud include it. His granddaughter married the head of the London Beit Din, R. Yechezkel Abramsky, author of Chazon Yechezkel.
This responsum was published with variations (based on a different manuscript, not including the additions on the verso of this leaf), in Responsa Kerem Ridvaz (Jerusalem 1995).
 leaf. 27 cm. Written on both sides. Fair condition. Stains and tears. Repairs to paper.
Lengthy letter (4 pages) handwritten and signed by R. Meir Arik, Rabbi of Yazlovets. Yazlovets, days of Selichot 1912.
A halachic responsum concerning laws of a misguided betrothal, in a case when a person married an insane woman "who does not have any intelligence whatsoever, to distinguish between summer and winter, and she is like an animal in form of a human being…". The responsum was sent to R. Moshe Stern Rabbi of Polien (Poienile de sub Munte) and to his son-in-law R. David Sperber, posek in that city (a disciple of R. Meir Arik). R. Meir relates in it to a responsum by R. Shlomo Leib Tabak, author of Erech Shai, on this topic. This responsum was published based on a manuscript in Responsa Imrei Yosher HaChadash (Jerusalem, 1997), Even HaEzer section 78, pp. 71-72. R. Meir Arik concludes the letter with blessings for a good year: "I hereby seek their wellbeing wholeheartedly, and bless them with a good inscribing and sealing. Meir Arik, Rabbi of this city".
R. Meir Arik (1855-1925), a leading Galician Torah scholar, served as rabbi of Yazlovets, Buchach and Tarnów. He was a disciple of R. Yaakov of Rimalov (Hrymailiv) and of the Maharsham. From 1885, he served as rabbi of Yazlovets, in place of his teacher the Maharsham who moved to Berezhany. From 1912, he served as rabbi of Buchach. During WWI, he fled to Vienna, studying Torah there with his friend R. Yosef Engel. Following the war, he returned to Poland and was appointed rabbi of Tarnów. Many of Poland's leading Torah scholars were his disciples, the most renowned ones include R. Meir Shapiro of Lublin, R. Aryeh Tzvi Frumer – the Gaon of Koziegłowy, R. David Sperber Gaon of Brașov (recipient of this letter), R. Yehuda Horowitz – Rebbe of Dzikov, R. Meshulam Roth author of Kol Mevaser, R. Reuven Margolies and R. Yehoshua Erenberg Rabbi of Tel Aviv.
He published many books, yet most of his manuscripts were lost during his escape to Vienna during WWI, including five large volumes of halachic responsa. His books: Sheyarei Tahara on Mishnayot Order Taharot (Kolomyia, 1890); Minchat Kenaot on Tractate Sota (Lviv, 1894); Minchat Pitim on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah and Even HaEzer (Munkacs, 1898-1908); Tal Torah (Vienna, 1921); Responsa Imrei Yosher part I (Munkacs, 1913), part II (Kraków-Tarnów, 1925); and other books containing selections of his Torah thought and letters: Minchat Aharon – Me'irat Einayim (Brooklyn, 1978) and Imrei Yosher HaChadash – Tal Torah HaChadash (Jerusalem, 1997).
 double leaf, 4 pages, approx. 22.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Minor tears and dampstains.
Letter (approx. 10 lines), handwritten and signed by R. "Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin". [Radin (Radun')], Elul 1926.
Letter of blessings for the New Year, addressed to the philanthropist R. David Potash in Tel Aviv (who made great effort to assist the Chafetz Chaim in his immigration plan to Eretz Israel).
"To my honorable and outstanding friend, a seeker of charity and kindness, R. David Potash… as the year draws to its close, I hereby extend my blessings… may G-d renew upon him a year of life, peace, blessing and success in all his endeavors, and may his eyes see the salvation of the Jewish people and the raising of the prestige of the Torah, in accordance with his wishes and the wishes of his friend who blesses him with Ketiva VeChatima Tova – Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin".
R. Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin (1837-1933), leader of the Jewish people, was widely known by the name of his first book, the Chafetz Chaim. He founded the Radin yeshiva and authored many halachic and ethical works: Mishna Berura, Shemirat HaLashon, Ahavat Chessed and dozens more. This letter was written in his later years, at the age of about 90.
Official stationery. 28 cm. Good condition. Folding marks and light wear.
Handwritten title page for Likutei Halachot on Tractates Zevachim and Menachot, handwritten and signed by the author R. "Yisrael Meir son of R. Aryeh Zev HaKohen" (approx. 9 lines). [Warsaw, ca. 1899].
· Three printed leaves – galley proofs of leaves 1-3 containing the author's prefaces. A lengthy note (3 lines), handwritten by the author the Chafetz Chaim, appears on p. 3a.
"Sefer Likutei Halachot – a compilation of the essential laws derived from the topics in the Order of Kodashim [currently published from Zevachim and Menachot] according to the rulings of the Rambam, a little here and there the opinions of other Rishonim on these topics will also be explained… All this I did with the assistance of the One who grants man wisdom - Yisrael Meir son of R. Aryeh Zev HaKohen".
R. Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin (1837-1933), leader of the Jewish people, was widely known by the name of his first book, the Chafetz Chaim. He founded the Radin yeshiva and authored many halachic and ethical works: Mishna Berura, Shemirat HaLashon, Ahavat Chessed and dozens more. One of his greatest enterprises was Likutei Halachot, a complement to Hilchot HaRav Alfas by the Rif, with a clear and concise commentary, compiled from books of the Rishonim. The Rif's book was written on Talmudic topics which are currently relevant and applicable. Likutei Halachot covers topics relating to the Temple and its services, which are not practiced at the present time. The objective of the Chafetz Chaim in publishing this book was to encourage the study of topics pertaining to the Temple services and offerings, thereby bolstering the yearning for the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our times.
The first part of Likutei Halachot on Tractates Zevachim and Menachot was printed in Warsaw in the autumn of 1899, and these leaves were written then during the printing process.
 leaves. Approx. 23 cm. Fair condition. Tears to the center of the leaves affecting text. Wear and worming.
Responsa of the Maharik, by R. Yosef Colon. Warsaw, 1884.
The front endpaper contains ownership inscriptions indicating that the book belonged to R. Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin, the Chafetz Chaim: "This book belongs to the preeminent scholar R. Yisrael Meir son of R. Aryeh Zev HaKohen of Radin, Vilna province, author of Chafetz Chaim"; "This book belongs to R. Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin, who acquired it from a person who wishes to remain unnamed. So says his friend who seeks his wellbeing Yitzchak Koshoner".
This book came from the inheritance of R. Tzvi Yehuda Eidelstein, son of R. Yerachmiel Gershon Eidelstein Rabbi of Shumyachi and author of Chiddushei Ben Aryeh (1862-1919), who received it from the Chafetz Chaim himself. This transpired during WWI, when the Chafetz Chaim fled together with the Radin Yeshiva to Shumyachi, Minsk province, where they remained for some two and a half years. During that period, the rabbi of the town, R. Yerachmiel Gershon, became very close to the Chafetz Chaim. In his book Chiddushei Ben Aryeh Part II, several responsa appear concerning Mikvaot and Agunah, questions posed to the Chafetz Chaim who requested from R. Yerachmiel Gershon to respond to them with the applicable Halacha (the Chafetz Chaim also reputedly said about him that he was a disciple of R. Chaim of Brisk not only in Torah but also in his righteousness).
, 2-116,  leaves. 32.5 cm. Dry paper. Fair-good condition. Worming. Wear and mold stains. Endpaper containing ownership inscriptions is professionally restored. Elaborate leather binding.
An authentication letter by R. Yitzchak Yeshaya Weiss is enclosed, confirming that "this book comes from the library of R. Yaakov Eidelstein, son of R. Tzvi Yehuda Rabbi of Shumyachi in whose home the Chafetz Chaim stayed during WWI, leaving the book there when the war ended".
Letter with the signature and stamp of R. Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik. Minsk, Shevat 15, 1916. Written by a scribe with the handwritten signature of R. "Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik" (the letter was presumably written by his son R. Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik and signed by R. Chaim).
Rabbinical ordination, accorded to Rebbe Menachem Nachum Rabinowitz, son of Rebbe Pinchas of Kontikoziva (Prybuzhany) and son-in-law of Rebbe Yosef of Koidanov (Dzyarzhynsk). R. Chaim alludes to the Rebbe's faculty to give blessings: "Those who acknowledge him will be blessed and fortunate through him, as it says that blessing is adjoined to a Torah scholar".
"R. Menachem Nachum son of R. Pinchas Rabinowitz was by me, he is great in Torah and fear of G-d, sharp and erudite, I discussed Torah with him and found him presenting straight rational in his Torah debates, he responds correctly and in accordance with Halacha… He is exceptional in every way… a son-in-law of the great Torah scholar from Koidanov… therefore my words come to inform others of his virtues. Those who acknowledge him will be blessed and fortunate through him, as it says that blessing is adjoined to a Torah scholar – so says Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik".
R. Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik (1853-1918), Rabbi of Brisk (Brest), was a foremost Torah scholar in Lithuania and one of the leaders of his generation, and is considered the initiator of the learning method in Lithuanian yeshivot. He was the son of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the Beit HaLevi, and son-in-law of R. Refael Shapiro, dean of the Volozhin yeshiva and son-in-law of the Netziv. After his marriage, he began serving as the third dean of the Volozhin yeshiva. With the yeshiva's closure, he proceeded to succeed his father, who passed away in 1894, as rabbi of Brisk, and continued teaching Torah to a small group of elite students. He was known for the uncompromising battle he waged against Zionism (R. Chaim would frequently say that the Zionist movement's prime objective is to uproot faith and Torah observance from the Jewish people). He was one of the founders of Agudath Yisrael, yet despite his extensive public and charitable activity, his mind never ceased learning and innovating in Torah, delving deeply into Torah topics until absolute exhaustion. A small compendium of his novellae was printed some twenty years after his passing in Chiddushei Rabbeinu Chaim HaLevi on the Rambam, published by his son R. Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik Rabbi of Brisk (Brisk, 1936 – in the foreword by the author's sons, they write how the book was written over a period of many years, revised over and over again, "even a hundred times"). Many novellae circulated orally in his name within the Lithuanian yeshivot, transmitted and copied by many writers, resulting in the stencil edition of Chiddushei HaGrach (in recent years, several books were published based on R. Chaim's draft notebooks, with some of the novellae corresponding to those transmitted orally).
The recipient of the ordination: The Rebbe of Koidanov-Haifa – R. Menachem Nachum Rabinowitz (1887-1959) was the son of Rebbe Pinchas Rabinowitz of Kantikuziva-Linitz (1861-1926) and son-in-law of Rebbe Yosef Perlow of Koidanov (d. Chanukah 1915 – a month and a half before this letter was written). He served as rabbi and rebbe in Russia. In 1934, he immigrated to Eretz Israel and became the head of the Beit Din in Haifa. He authored the book Machshevet Nachum.
In Machshevet Nachum (Jerusalem, 2004, p. 239), his son describes the circumstances surrounding this letter of ordination from R. Chaim: "I heard from my father that when he came [to Minsk] to receive rabbinical ordination from R. Chaim of Brisk, he met the latter in his house when he was surrounded by several rabbis and young rabbinical students, and after R. Chaim welcomed him with great reverence and affection, he told him of the purpose of his visit – to obtain an ordination. R. Chaim asked if he had yet been accorded any ordinations, and when he answered to the affirmative, R. Chaim requested to see them. My father showed him one ordination, and R. Chaim, after perusing it, commented: Kalt! [=cold]. My father responded that it isn't so surprising, considering the rabbi who wrote it is an opponent of Chassidism. R. Chaim retorted, 'And what am I?!', to which R. Nachum replied, 'His honor is half a Chassid'…" (see the continuation of the story in the enclosed copy). The preface of Machshevet Nachum (p. ) attests that this enthusiastic letter was worded and written by R. Chaim's son, R. Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik Rabbi of Brisk.
 leaf. 20.5 cm. Good condition. Stains.
Letter (16 lines) handwritten and signed by the kabbalist R. Shlomo Elyashov, author of Leshem Shevo V'Achlama. Shavel (Šiauliai, Lithuania), Elul 1891.
Sent via Kovno (Kaunas), to be passed on to his friend and relative R. Shraga Meir Leizerowitz of Žagarė. The letter opens with warm wishes for the new year: "He Who gives life should decree years of life and Ketiva VeChatima Tova for my friend and relative… the outstanding and pious R. Shraga Meir Feivish Leizerowitz". R. Shlomo Elyashov advises R. Shraga Meir to act upon the advice of R. Leib Chassid of Kelm on a certain matter, and be cautious lest R. Natan Tzvi of Slabodka know about it: "Concerning what the Chassid R. Leib told him, his advice is very correct. But take care not to inform Natan Tzvi of Slabo--- about it…" (we do not know which topic is being discussed, nor whether the Natan Tzvi mentioned refers to R. Natan Tzvi Finkel, the Saba of Slabodka. It may pertain to R. Shraga Meir's plans of travelling to London).
The holy Torah scholar, R. Shlomo Elyashov (1841-1926), a leading Kabbalist in Lithuania – "the G-dly Kabbalist, master of secrets, unique in his generation…" (as his disciple R. Aryeh Levin described him on the title page of the biography he wrote about him), lived in Shavel (Šiauliai, Lithuania). R. Shlomo became renowned at a young age for his proficiency in Kabbalah, and he arranged for printing most of the writings of the Gaon of Vilna on Kabbalah. His notes on Etz Chaim were printed in the Warsaw 1891 edition under the title Hagahot HaRav SheVaCh (Shlomo ben Chaikel). His series of books on Kabbalah named Leshem Shevo V'Achlama were published from 1909-1948, and are considered fundamental works for the study of Kabbalah. His books and writings were composed amidst much holiness and purity (he reputedly also used Hashbaat HaKulmus). He entertained a close relationship with the Chafetz Chaim, who visited him several times in Shavel and Homel (the Chafetz Chaim once spent a Shabbat with him in Shavel, and on that occasion, the women of the family ate the meals in a different room. See the letter of R. Tzvi Hirsh Ferber, Yeshurun, 5, p. 663, 6). The Chafetz Chaim urged his disciple R. Eliyahu Dushnitzer to go visit the Leshem, famously saying that in this world one may still merit to see him, while in the Next World, his place will be in the highest spheres, and we will be far from him.
The recipient of the letter, R. Shraga Meir Leizerowitz (1840-1929), was a native of Kelm. He was a pious person and a Kabbalist, close to R. Leibly Chassid of Kelm, to the foremost Kabbalists of Lithuania (the Leshem, R. Aryeh Leib Lipkin of Kretinga, R. Aharon Shlomo Maharil, R. Yitzchak Meltzan and others) and to the leading disciples of R. Yisrael of Salant. After his marriage, he lived in Žagarė, and honored R. Chaim Chaikel Elyashov (father of the Leshem) to be the Sandak at the circumcision of his son. R. Shraga Meir arrived in England in the early 1890s, where he served for many years a rabbi of Chevrat Shas. In his later years he immigrated to Jerusalem.
Postcard. 14 cm. Good condition. Light stains. Postmarks from Šiauliai.
Soviet passport of the holy kabbalist R. Shlomo Elyashov, the Leshem. Gomel (Homel), 1923.
Russian passport, printed in Russian and French, of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. This passport discloses details pertaining to the immigration to Eretz Israel of the Leshem at the age of 82, together with his son-in-law, daughter and grandson: R. Avraham Popka-Elyashov, Mrs. Chaya Musha (Musia), and the child Yosef Shalom.
The passport was issued in Gomel (Homel) in November 1923, citing Eretz Israel as the destination of their journey. The identification details were completed by hand: Age: 82. Year of Birth: 1841. Place of Birth: Kaunas province. The leaves of the passport bear stamps, attesting to their journey from Homel, via Moscow, Odessa and Turkey: 1. Stamp of the Soviet Republic, from Gomel, November 1, 1923 – allowing exit from the Soviet Union to Eretz Israel, via Odessa. Russian. 2. Visa entry stamp to Eretz Israel from Moscow, November 14, 1923. English. 3. Stamp from Odessa, February 15, 1924. 4. Stamp from Turkey dated February 29, 1924 with details in Turkish and stamp of the Russian embassy in Turkey. 5. Stamp of the Government of Palestine dated March 7, 1924 (according to their immigration certificate issued by the Palestine Office of the Jewish Agency in Constantinople – see Kedem Auction 62 Item 280 – the date they registered in Constantinople for immigration was March 2, 1924, and they actually left Constantinople on a ship headed for Jaffa on March 6, 1924). The photograph was torn off this passport.
The holy Kabbalist R. Shlomo Elyashiv (Elyashov, Elyashoff), author of the Leshem (1841-1926) was a leading Lithuanian Kabbalist. His notes on Etz Chaim were printed in the Warsaw 1891 edition under the title Hagahot HaRav SheVaCh (Shlomo ben Chaim Chaikel), appellation the Sephardi rabbis were fond of calling him by. His series of books on Kabbalah named Leshem Shevo V'Achlama were published in 1909-1948, and are considered fundamental works on the study of Kabbalah. He was received in Jerusalem with great honor by the leading Sephardi and Ashkenazi Kabbalists, especially R. Shaul Dweck, dean of the Rechovot HaNahar yeshiva who had exchanged correspondence with him all the years, and the Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, his disciple in Kabbalah already during the time the Leshem lived in Šiauliai. His was joined in his immigration to Eretz Israel by his son-in-law from Homel - R. Avraham Elyashov (Elyashiv; 1878-1943), his daughter Rebbetzin Chaya Musha (Musia, 1881-1952) and their only son R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (1910-2012), then a young boy of thirteen and a half, who later became one of the leading Halachic authorities of this generation.
Booklet, 17.5 cm. 8 leaves. Good-fair condition. Lacking photograph. Open tear in place of photograph at the center of leaf . Original, fabric covered wrappers, detached and slightly worn.
Maharach Or Zarua Responsa, by R. Chain son of Rabbeinu Yitzchak of Vienna, author of Or Zarua. Leipzig, . First edition, copied from a manuscript "which was hidden for close to 600 years".
Copy of R. Natan Zvi Finkel "the Saba of Slabodka" and of his son R. Moshe Finkel. Handwritten inscription on the flyleaf: "Gift to my brother-in-law… R. Natan Zvi Finkel". Ownership stamps of his son R. "Moshe Finkel – Rosh Metivta of the Knesset Yisrael Yeshiva – Slobodka, Kovne". Signature on title page: "Zvi Meir HaCohen".
R. Natan Zvi Finkel – the "Saba of Slabodka" (1849-1927), leading figure in the Mussar Movement. Disciple of R. Yisrael of Salant and one of the founders of Kollel Perushim in Kovne. Founded many yeshivot, including the Slabodka Yeshiva, later named Knesset Yisrael after his teacher R. Yisrael of Salant. In his senior years, he moved to Eretz Israel and established a branch in the city of Hebron. Taught thousands of disciples, many of whom blossomed into Torah giants, and was known for his profound ethical influence. An anthology of his deep discourses was printed in the Or HaTzafun series. He conducted himself with simplicity and asceticism and modesty, never appearing in public, his name and signature do not appear on any official document of the Slobodka Yeshiva or Torah institutes which he managed. His private correspondence was infrequent and he would usually sign the few letters he wrote with his initials and not with his full signature. His home was open wide and his disciples would move about as comfortably as its owners. His personal belongings were few and books belonging to his private library are very rare.
R. Moshe Finkel, one of the heads of the Knesset Yisrael Yeshiva in Slabodka and in Hebron (1884-1925), esteemed son of the "Saba of Slabodka", R. Natan Zvi Finkel and son-in-law of the head of the yeshiva R. Moshe Mordechai Epstein, Torah prodigy who amazed both R. Chaim of Brisk and R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk with his Torah knowledge and profound comprehension foreseeing that he would be a future Torah luminary. In 1913, he began delivering discourses in the Slabodka Yeshiva. In the month of Adar 1925, he moved to Eretz Israel and officiated as a head of the Knesset Yisrael – Slobodka Yeshiva in Hebron. He died on Chol Hamoed Sukkot 1926 at the age of 42 and in the lifetime of his illustrious father [stories abound of the Saba's control of his sentiments and his coping with his personal tragedy during the Festival].
XIV, 91 leaves,  leaf. Lacking the last three leaves of the index of responsa and errata. 22 cm. Fair condition. Stains and heavy wear. Defects and dampstains. Paper strips reinforcing the margins of some leaves. Detached leaves, torn and detached binding.
Six parts of the Mishnah Berurah, commentary on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, by R. Yisrael Meir HaCohen of Radin, author of Chafetz Chaim. [Warsaw, Piotrków, 1884-1907. Vol. 1, 3, 4 and 5 are first editions. Vol. 2 and 6 are stereotype editions].
Some volumes bear "proofread" inscriptions in the handwriting of the author of the Chafetz Chaim. The volume which contains the laws of Shabbat bears an ownership inscription on the flyleaf: "Belongs to R. Baruch Duber Leibowitz Rosh Metivta in the great Knesset Beit Yitzchak Yeshiva". Signatures and ownership inscriptions of R. Moshe Finkel, a head of the Knesset Yisrael Yeshiva in Slobodka and Hebron, adorn the five other volumes. A handwritten gloss appears in part 3, p. 42.
R. Baruch Dov (Ber) Leibowitz (1864-1940), author of Birkat Shmuel, taught many disciples. Disciple of R. Chaim of Brisk in the Volozhin Yeshiva, son-in-law of R. Avraham Yitzchak Zimmerman Rabbi of Hlusk. After his father-in-law relocated to the Kremenchuk rabbinate, he succeeded him in the Hlusk rabbinate and established a yeshiva. After a 13-year tenure, he was asked to head the Knesset Beit Yitzchak Yeshiva in Slobodka. During WWI, he wandered with the yeshiva to Minsk, Kremenchuk and Vilna, finally settling in Kamenets. Author of Birkat Shmuel on Talmudic treatises. His writings are basic works of deep yeshiva Torah study.
R. Moshe Finkel, (1884-1925), son of the "Saba of Slabodka", R. Natan Zvi Finkel and son-in-law of the head of the yeshiva R. Moshe Mordechai Epstein, Torah prodigy who amazed both R. Chaim of Brisk and R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk with his Torah knowledge and profound comprehension and they foresaw that he would be a future Torah luminary. In 1913, he began delivering discourses in the Slabodka Yeshiva. In the month of Adar 1925, he moved to Eretz Israel and officiated as a head of the Knesset Yisrael – Slobodka Yeshiva in Hebron. He died on Chol Hamoed Sukkot 1926 at the age of 42, in the lifetime of his illustrious father.
Six volumes. Part 1: 151,  leaves. Part 2: 155 leaves. Part 3: , 2-195 leaves (lacking first leaf with the introduction to the Hilchot Shabbat). Part 4: , 196-290 leaves. Part 5: 153,  leaves. Part 6: 164 leaves. 23 cm. Brittle paper. Condition varies, fair to good-fair. The inside of some volumes is in good-fair condition. Stains and wear. Worming. Detached leaves and few tears. Contemporary bindings, mostly detached. Defects and worming to binding.
The Mishnah Berurah books on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim were composed and printed by the author of the Chafetz Chaim during the course of 27 years. He toiled greatly in studying the halachot and labored to reach true halachic conclusions (sometimes studying the same topic more than 36 times). These books were accepted by the entire Jewish world and many editions were printed. The Chafetz Chaim was accustomed to inspecting each and every book for defective printing or exchanged leaves and would write in his own handwriting "proofread" on each book which passed his inspection.
Mesilat Yesharim, pertaining to ethics and fear of G-d, including Derech Etz Chaim, by R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto – the Ramchal. Vilna, 1869.
The title page bears the signature of R. Yehuda Leib Chasman, signing with the acronym: "Yahel---". The margins contain numerous brief as well as lengthy notes in his handwriting.
Mesilat Yesharim is the foremost ethics work in Torah study halls and for adherents of the Mussar movement. This edition was printed based on the Königsberg 1858 edition which was published at the behest of R. Yisrael of Salant, following a directive he received from his teacher R. Yosef Zundel of Salant. The latter related to his illustrious disciple, that upon receiving a farewell blessing from his teacher R. Chaim of Volozhin when leaving the Volozhin yeshiva, he asked his teacher which ethics books he recommends studying. R. Chaim replied: "All ethics books are beneficial, but Mesilat Yesharim should be your guide".
R. Yehuda Leib Chasman (1869-1934), a leading Torah scholar of his times, was a study partner and childhood friend of R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in their native city of Iwye. A student of the Kelm Beit HaTalmud, he served as mashgiach of the Telshe yeshiva during the time of R. Shimon Shkop. From 1909, he served as rabbi of Szczuczyn, and established there a Yeshiva Gedola which was closed at the outbreak of WWI. After the war, with the ensuing destruction of Torah institutions and communities, he dedicated himself to the activities of the Vaad HaYeshivot in Vilna. He was a confidant of the heads of the Vaad: R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, the Chafetz Chaim and R. Shimon Shkop.
In 1927, the Saba of Slabodka (who dubbed him "the genius in ethics") called him to succeed him as mashgiach of his yeshiva in Hebron, a position he held until his death in Cheshvan 1935. His Torah novellae were published in his book Minchat Yehuda and his discourses were printed by his leading disciples in the three volumes of Or Yahel.
, 2-42 leaves. Approx. 17.5 cm. Thin, high-quality paper. Good condition. Stains. New, elaborate leather binding.
Report from R. Yitzchak Yeshaya Weiss enclosed, identifying the signature and notes as "R. Yehuda Leib Chasman's distinctive handwriting". R. Weiss affirms that the signature on the title page can be read "Yahelibman", as per his surname in his youth, when he was known as Yehuda Leib Libman.