Auction 69 Part 1 Rare and Important Items
Dec 3, 2019 (Your local time)
Israel
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LOT 34:

Signature of R. Moshe Yonah Rabbi of Safed, Disciple of the Arizal – On the Title Page of Bechinat Olam, Venice ...

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Signature of R. Moshe Yonah Rabbi of Safed, Disciple of the Arizal – On the Title Page of Bechinat Olam, Venice, 1546 – Including Dedication by HaRav HaMelitz, and Inscription Handwritten by Rabbi Reuven Bachar Yaakov
Title page of Bechinat Olam, by R. Yedaiah Bedersi, Venice, 1546. On the verso of the title page, calligraphic signature of the kabbalist R. Moshe Yonah, rabbi of Safed, a disciple of the Arizal.
A lengthy dedication was added beneath the signature, handwritten by R. Mordechai HaLevi – HaRav HaMelitz of Jerusalem, with his calligraphic signature, attesting that he gave this book, together with another two, to R. Reuven Bachar Yaakov. The dedication is followed by a line handwritten by the recipient of the book, R. Reuven Bachar Yaakov, rabbi of Sofia, and later yeshiva dean in Safed: " I gave him in exchange of the above, a Chumash with Targum and the Rashi commentary, in small format".
The kabbalist R. Moshe Yonah was one of the first disciples of the Arizal. R. Chaim Vital lists him in Sefer HaChezyonot amongst the "second group" or "senior group" of the disciples of the Arizal, together with R. Moshe Alshech, R. Moshe Najara, R. Yitzchak Archa, R. Avraham Guakil and others. R. Moshe Yonah was one of the first to record teachings heard directly from the Arizal. He compiled the teachings of the Arizal in the book Kanfei Yonah, which was widespread amongst kabbalists, mainly in Italy, but over the years, his authorship of the composition was forgotten, and it was instead attributed to the Rema of Fano, and even printed under the latter's name (see: M. Benayahu, R. Moshe Yonah Disciple of the Arizal and First to Record His Teachings, Memorial Book for R. Yitzchak Nissim, IV, p. 7 onwards). R. Moshe Yonah was a leader of the Safed community, and the rabbi of the city. R. Yosef Yuspa Hahn quotes in his book Yosef Ometz (in the chapter on the order of priority in Torah study) methods of studying Kabbalah which he heard from R. Yaakov Schweinfurt, emissary of the Safed Torah scholars, "in the name of the kabbalist R. Yonah Rabbi of Safed". R. Yosef Yuspa adds that he saw the signature of R. Moshe Yonah several times on writings sent to his father from Safed, and that he thinks that he is the author of Kanfei Yonah. With the decline of Safed and the scattering of the disciples of the Arizal, R. Moshe Yonah emigrated to Egypt around 1582-1585, residing there until his passing. Several manuscripts in his handwriting and with his signatures were preserved, including sermons he delivered in Egypt in 1585 (see: R. Moshe Hillel, Min HaGenazim, II, p. 45 onwards).
R. Mordechai HaLevi, known as "HaMelitz" (d. 1807), a leading Jerusalem Torah scholar, Rishon LeTzion and rabbi of the city. He was the son-in-law of R. Mordechai Yosef Meyuchas author of Shaar HaMayim, and his successor as rabbi of Jerusalem. His responsa were published in the books of Torah scholars of his times, such as Simchat Yom Tov by R. Yom Tov Algazi, Chikrei Lev by R. Refael Yosef Chazan, and others. In 1793, he left for Europe as emissary of Jerusalem. During the course of his mission, he published several books of Rishonim in Livorno, including Ishei HaShem (Livorno 1795) – laws of the Ramban and novellae of the Ritva on Tractate Nedarim; Nimukei Yosef on Tractates Ketubot and Nedarim, with the addition of his glosses to Nimukei Yosef, named Maamar Mordechai; Beit HaBechira (Livorno 1795) – novellae of the Me'iri to Tractates Nedarim, Nazir and Sotah, with novellae of the Nimukei Yosef to Tractate Shevuot. With the completion of his mission, he returned to Jerusalem. In 1806, he was appointed Rishon LeTzion of Jerusalem in place of his father-in-law, but that same year, he travelled as emissary to Constantinople, and passed away there in 1807. R. Chananel Neppi, who met R. Mordechai HaLevi during the course of his journeys, describes him: "…I had the merit of meeting him when he came to Italy as emissary of Jerusalem, and I found him to be very well-versed in Talmud and halachic literature, by heart as if they lie in his pocket, and he brought to print the works of the Rishonim… he also authored a large composition named Maamar Mordechai, but due to the troubles which befell Jerusalem, he was compelled to travel to Constantinople, where he was summoned to the Heavenly yeshiva in 1807" (Toldot Gedolei Yisrael UGeonei Italia, pp. 243 and 245).
R. Reuven Bachar Yaakov (1729-1806), Torah scholar and kabbalist, rabbi of Sofia, and later of Safed. Born in Sofia, he studied there under R. Shlomo Shalem. He married the daughter of R. David son of R. Shmuel Majar. R. Reuven was the uncle of R. Avraham Alkalai, author of Zechor LeAvraham (who mentions his uncle in his book, with the acronym: R.B.Y. = Reuven Bachar Yaakov). R. Reuven was an expert scribe and copied kabbalistic manuscripts, including the composition of his father-in-law, Chasdei David (later published by R. Yaakov Shealtiel Ninio, in Emet LeYaakov, Livorno 1843-1844), and other kabbalistic compositions (see: R. Moshe Hillel, Identity of the Copyist of the Book Etz Chaim with a Colophon from 1579, Chitzei Giborim, X, Nisan 2017, p. 883). In 1768, he wished to immigrate to Eretz Israel, but was held up in Salonika and Constantinople, never reaching Eretz Israel. He instead returned to Sofia and resumed his position as rabbi of the city. In the 1790s, he finally fulfilled his dreams and immigrated to Eretz Israel, settling in Safed, where he was appointed rabbi of the city (see: Rosanes, Korot HaYehudim BeTurkia VeArtzot HaKedem, V, chapter II, Sofia 1937-1938, pp. 106-109).
[2] leaves (title page with additional leaf joined to it – leaf 69 of Bechinat Olam). 19.5 cm. Fair condition. Stains, tears and wear (not affecting text).

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