Auction 69 Part 1 Rare and Important Items
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LOT 37:

Ner Mitzva and Torah Or – Venice, 1598-1600 – Copy of Rabbi Yaakov ibn Tzur, the Yaavetz, with His Signatures and ...

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Ner Mitzva and Torah Or – Venice, 1598-1600 – Copy of Rabbi Yaakov ibn Tzur, the Yaavetz, with His Signatures and Glosses
Ner Mitzva, homily on the thirteen principles of faith, and Torah Or, homily on the Torah (on Bereshit and Shemot until Parashat Bo) – Parts I and II of Minchat Kohen, by R. Shmuel Kohen-Tzedek of Safed. Venice: Zuan (Giovanni) di Gara, 1598-[1600].
Ownership inscription on the title page, handwritten and signed by R. Yaakov ibn Tzur – the Yaavetz: " I acquired it for the will of my Creator… from the Torah scholar R. Maimon son of Aflalo, so says Yaakov ibn Tzur son of the great, pious and humble Torah scholar R. Reuven ibn Tzur".
The book contains many dozens of glosses. Presumably, most of them are handwritten by the Yaavetz. A gloss with his signature appears on p. 189b: " …so it appears to me, Yaavetz". Another gloss signed " Yaavetz" on p. 194a. Most of the glosses consist of references, corrections and headings of the topic discussed in the paragraph the gloss pertains to.
A gloss handwritten by the grandson of the Yaavetz on p. 84b, signed: " Shlomo Eliyahu ibn Tzur".
A (partially erased) stamp on the title page: "Refael ibn Tzur, Fez".
R. Yaakov ibn Tzur – the Yaavetz (1673-1752), a most prominent and illustrious figure of Moroccan Jewry. A leading halachic authority of his generation (the generation of the holy Or HaChaim and his teachers), a poet and a kabbalist, he was also well versed in Practical Kabbalah. At the age of twenty, he was appointed scribe of the Beit Din of R. Vidal HaTzarfati, R. Menachem Serero and R. Yehuda ben Attar in Fez. He then authored Et Sofer – laws and customs of official documents. With the passing of R. Vidal HaTzarfati, R. Yehuda ben Attar was appointed head of the Beit Din and the Yaavetz became his fellow dayan. The Yaavetz (together with R. Yehuda ben Attar and other leading Torah scholars of the generation) was amongst those who granted their approbation to the book Chefetz Hashem by R. Chaim ben Attar – the Or HaChaim (printed in Amsterdam, 1732). Following R. Yehuda ben Attar's passing, the Yaavetz succeeded him as head of the Fez Beit Din, and became the supreme authority in Morocco, responding to halachic queries from throughout the Maghreb. The Yaavetz was compelled to leave Fez several times. Between 1719-1728, he resided in Meknes, and during the famine of 1738, he wandered to Tetouan. In these places too he was received with great honor, and joined the local rabbis in the Beit Din, even heading the list of signees on Beit Din rulings. In his final years, he appointed five of his disciples to assist him in leading the community. These Torah scholars were known as "the Beit Din of Five", and they served as the leaders of the community in his old age and following his passing. He wrote numerous halachic responsa and authored many compositions. Some of his responsa were published in his two-part book Mishpat UTzedaka BeYaakov (printed in Alexandria, Egypt, 1894 and 1903), some were published in the books of his contemporaries, and the rest remain in manuscript form. The Yaavetz was renowned for his talents as a poet and he even authored books in this field, including his renowned book Et Lekol Chefetz (Alexandria, 1893) – four hundred piyyutim and poems he composed. The Chida describes him and his works in Shem HaGedolim, and also mentions the Yaavetz's practice of annotating his books with numerous glosses: "…he authored numerous compositions, and apart from the many books he composed, all his books were replete with his marginal notes. And he was also versed in Practical Kabbalah" (Maarechet Gedolim, Yud, 256); "Et Sofer, in manuscript, authored by R. Yaakov ibn Tzur regarding the correct way of writing documents, and he authored numerous compositions… and he also wrote extensively in the pages of his books, and he was well versed in all the customs of the rabbis who were exiled from Spain during the expulsion, and he did not leave neither major nor minor topics untreated, everything was written down…" (Maarechet Sefarim, Ayin, 31).
Two books in one volume. 216; 360 leaves. 19.5 cm. Condition varies. First title page and final leaves of volume in fair-poor condition, with stains and extensive wear, dampstains, worming, tears and damage. Tape repairs to first title page. Most leaves in middle of book in good-fair condition. Stains and dampstains. Worming in several places, slightly affecting text. Binding detached.
The Bibliography of the Hebrew Book lists the book Torah Or with 307 leaves only, comprising homilies for every Parasha of Bereshit; while this copy also contains leaves 308-360, with homilies for Shemot, until the middle of Parashat Bo. These leaves also appear in the Mehlman copy in the NLI (see: Y. Yudlov, Ginzei Yisrael, Jerusalem 1985, p. 150, no. 899). The printing of this book was presumably never completed (Yudlov, ibid).
The Bibliography of the Hebrew Book records that the year of conclusion of the printing of the first part is alluded to in the colophon – 1599. However, in this copy, this allusion was omitted.
The two parts of the book, Ner Mitzva and Torah Or, were supposedly printed successively, and thus the chronogram on the title page of part II – "השני", presumably includes reference to the millennia, and is equivalent to 5360 – 1600 (Yudlov, Ginzei Yisrael, ibid).

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