Auction 66 Rare and Important Items
May 15, 2019 (Your local time)
 8 Ramban St, Jerusalem.

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LOT 19:

Avodat HaKodesh – First Book Printed in Jerusalem – Jerusalem, 1841

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Sold for: $3,800
Start price:
$ 2,000
Estimated price:
Auction house commission: 23%
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Avodat HaKodesh, laws, practices, segulot and Tikkunim, by R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai – the Chida. Jerusalem: R. Yisrael Bak, 1841. Two title pages, the first one with a woodcut border.
The first book printed in Jerusalem. The book begins with a foreword by the printer (leaves [2b]-[4]). This foreword is a renowned and notable source documenting the history of Eretz Israel, of the Galilee and of Damascene Jewry. R. Yisrael Bak relates of his travels before reaching Jerusalem: His immigration to Eretz Israel and establishment of the printing press in the Galilee; the earthquake of 1837 which claimed the lives of thousands of Jews; the riots in Galilean towns in 1834-1838 by rebels who renewed their attacks on the earthquake survivors, plundering and destroying their remaining possessions. R. Yisrael relates of his involvement in the 1840 Damascus affair, reporting that he urged Moses Montefiore to get involved, by sending him letters to London from Alexandria, where he was residing at that time. He acclaims the Sephardi Torah scholars and investors who assisted him in reestablishing his printing press in Jerusalem.
The famous printer R. Yisrael Bak (1797-1874) was a disciple of leaders of the Chassidic movement, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and R. Yisrael of Ruzhin. Born in Berditchev, he was involved in the printing profession already in his youth, and in 1815, he established the (second) printing press in Berditchev, where he printed some 26 books before immigrating to Eretz Israel. Reputedly, he designed the Slavita typeface. Following his immigration to Eretz Israel, ca. 1831, he settled in Safed, where he established a printing press which operated for a short while, until the great 1837 earthquake which completely destroyed the town (see item 99). In 1841 he established a printing press in Jerusalem – the first printing press in Jerusalem to print Hebrew books and the only press in the city until the 1860s.
[Regarding R. Yisrael Bak and his printing press in Safed and Jerusalem, see: Sh. HaLevi, Sifrei Yerushalayim HaRishonim, Jerusalem 1976, pp. 15-27; Meir Benayahu, R. Yisrael Bak's Printing Press in Safed and the Beginning of Printing in Jerusalem, Areshet 4, Jerusalem 1966, pp. 271-295].
[4], 111 leaves. 15 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains and wear. Marginal creases to several leaves. Minor damage and tears. Marginal dampstains to last leaves. Worming to margins of first title page and last leaves. Handwritten inscriptions. Owners' signatures in Oriental script on second title page ("Yaakov Tzribis"; "Yaakov Tribis"). Stamp on title page. New leather binding.
The first Hebrew book printed in Jerusalem. Sh. HaLevi, no. 1.

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