Auction 10 July 28, 2021 / י"ט אב, תשפ"א
Jul 28, 2021

The auction has ended

LOT 29:

Original Responsum from A Rishon ----

600-year-old autographed responsum by the ...

Sold for: $280,000
Start price:
$ 150,000
Estimated price:
$200,000 - $300,000
Auction house commission: 23% More details
VAT: 17% On commission only

Original Responsum from A Rishon ----

600-year-old autographed responsum by the Maharik---

Rabbi Yosef Colon's Famous fundamental responsum regarding laws of Kiddushin 

27-page (14 leaves) handwritten halachic responsum by the Maharik, with 5 lines the Maharik penned himself, and signed with his original autograph “Yosef Colon ben Moreinu Harav Shlomo z”l.”

The Maharik numbered among the very last Rishonim, culminating a glorious era. His rulings and decisions are widely accepted, following the halachic principle of ‘halachah d’basra’i’, ‘the halachah must follow the most recent ruling’. One of his great disciples was Rabbi Ovadya Bartenura, the leading commentator on the Mishnah.

This is one of the most famous responsa published by the Maharik, and it is the basis for the entire Chapter 45 in Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer, which discusses the concept of sablonos, an Aramaic term used to describe gifts that a bridegroom sends to his fiancée. The most famous and fundamental responsum regarding this subject was authored by the Maharik following a controversial episode that took place in Florence. In his responsum, he established clear definitions and parameters to determine when and in which instances sablonos might be regarded as kiddushin.

All commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch, as well as leading Achronim, follow up and discourse this topic in their respective commentaries and responsa. (See for example, Harav Meir of Lublin’s writings in Maharan Mi’Lublin Ch. 82: “And I shall not write any more, for all the debates are already explicitly stated in the responsa of the Poskim and Responsa of the Maharik in Ch. 170-171).”

The Responsa of the Maharik is one of the premier works of halachic responsa, and its foundations are cited throughout the Shulchan Aruch .

In the preface to his famous commentary Beis Yosef, Rabbi Yosef Karo mentions the Maharik’s responsa in the same breath as those of the greatest Rishonim, among them the Rashba, Rosh and Rivash. He likewise cites him in his commentary, the Beis Yosef, over 300 times!

The Rema in his preface to Darkei Moshe writes similarly, “The responsa of the sages after whom we are all drawn…the responsa of the Rosh, Rashba and Maharik…these are the great lights that illuminate the eyes of the people.”

This responsa was published in sefer Shu”t Maharik Chapter 171, though the wording in the manuscript is a superior version then the printed version.

27 sides (14 leaves); clear Ashkenazic-Italian writing. New ornate leather binding with gold engravings. Page size: 15x21 cm. This responsum ends with 5 handwritten lines, some of which were omitted from print.

The rarity and importance of the present responsa with the Maharik’s original autograph is unparalleled. 

History & Legacy

Rabbi Yosef Colon, the Maharik (1410-1480), was a scion of Rashi Hakadosh. He was born in Chambéry on the Italian border of Southeastern France to his father Rabbi Shlomo Colon. Following attacks by bandits in his native town, the Maharik escaped and found refuge in North Italy, serving as Rav and Rosh Yeshiva, and from there his name spread to all corners of the world. 

 Among his most famous disciples was Rabbi Ovadya of Bartenura

The Maharik was the foremost sage and scholar in Italy and one of the spiritual leaders of his generation. Maharam Mintz, a disciple of Mahar”i Weil, writes: “What am I? Just an empty vessel. Behold, you have the elderly Rabbanim who are certainly preferable to me, and whose wisdom far surpasses mine, and especially that you have the leader of the generation… Maharik Colon…”

The Maharshal similarly praises him: “His words are strong as an iron chain, and they soar to the heights of the heaven, due to his sharpness” (Yam shel Shlomo, Bava Kama Ch. 8a).

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