Auction No. 113

Famous personalities, Art, Seforim, Letters from Rabbis and Rebbes

Apr 8, 2019

Auction No. 113

Opening $1,800
Estimate $2,500 - $3,000
Sold for $2,318
Including buyer's premium

Objection to the mission of Rabbi Yechezkel Eliezer Abulafia of Tiberias.

Background: In 1830, Rabbi Yechezkel Eliezer Abulafia was sent from Tiberias to Italy. He spent a long time on his mission. About his stay in Italy, we found a handwritten testimony, as follows. Later, when he arrived in Livorno, he printed the letter which he had received for his mission, in order to distribute it among the the donors. One copy of it survived and is kept in the National Library. (National Library, Jerusalem, 199/24).

In 1829, Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Abulafia was sent by the Tiberias Kollel. And twenty years later, in 1839, he traveled in France, to the cities of Nice, Marsielle and more. When he stayed in Nice, he was a guest of Moshe Ben Zaqen of Gibraltar and there the philanthropist Yoav Viterbo promised donations for a period of ten years. This commitment was done with the assistance of Rabbi Yechezkel Eliezer, and he signed as witness (Manuscript National Library, Jerusalem, no. 8696).

In 1831, Rabbi Yechezkel Eliezer Abulafia published the book Ben HaMelech VeHaNazir in Livorno. In 1832, he was again sent a letter designating him as emissary, with the destinations being the cities of Italy, in which the great poverty of the town was emphasized. Signed by the leading Sephardic rabbis.

In the certificate that is published here for the first time, we discover that this emissary abused his office and caused the rabbis of Tiberias, Sephardic and Ashkenazic alike, to rage. This certificate, from Cheshvan 1838, reveals that he left Tiberias in 1830; yet from then to early 1838, he did not send anything to the town. Moreover, for two years he had been delaying in Paris, sitting there idly. Furthermore, the community of Tiberias had sent him a fair amount of money to cover his costs of living and he did not even bother to notify them that he had received the money and to thank them. Therefore, after such strange behavior, his mission was cancelled.

The document is signed by all the rabbis of Tiberias: Chaim Nissim Abulafia, Raphael Maman, Machluf Edre'i, Arazi haCohen, Chai Shmuel Vozan, Avraham Elchadif, Shmuel Chaim HaCohen, Yekutiel Zalman Leib, Shimon of Husiatyn, Shaul HaLevi of Russia and David Eliyahu of Russia.

The letter of cancellation was sent to the members of the Clerks and Administrators of Amsterdam, who were responsible for the European fundraising system and they approved the cancellation and sent a copy of it to the rabbis of Italy.

This lot includes three certificates:

1. The authentic certificate of cancellation which was meant for the Trieste community, to which the emissary had not yet arrived.

2. A form from the Clerks and Administrators with a copy of the cancellation, approved by them. The form was apparently sent to several communities in Italy, Cheshvan 1839.

3. A long Italian letter by the Clerks and Administrators to the community of Trieste, in which they explain at length the severity of the damage done by this emissary. Cheshvan 1839.

[5] pp. Ink on paper. Sizes vary. Fine condition.