Auction No. 115

Seforim, Letters from Rabbis and Rebbes, Chabad, Manuscripts, Art from Israel, Important historic documents

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 at 6 pm
Opening $ 1,000
Estimate $ 6,000 - $ 8,000
Sold for $ 20,740
Including buyer's premium

Five notebooks in which Mr. Shoshani z"l wrote his Torah thoughts as well as novellae on other topics such as mathematics, physics, astronomy, astrology, zoology, biology, history, and more. The writing is dense and in extreme shorthand.

Mr. Shoshani was known to minimize his Torah writings (it is possible that this is due to the known stringency prohibiting writing Torah thoughts unless there is concern one will forget them) so that most of his writings are comprised of several excerpts (mainly gemaras) which he connected, so that he leaves the reader to understand the innovation of his words on his own. This is also the case in the notebooks before us.

Mr. Shoshani (Hillel Perlman? Mordechai Shoshani? Mordechai Rosenbaum? Ben Shushan?) (1895?-1968) was a rabbi and teacher, a mystery man. He is known for his tremendous genius. He was in contact with many rabbis including Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel of Satmar, and many more. His disciples include Emanuel Levins, Professor Shalom Rosenberg, Rabbi Yehudah Ashkenazi (Menito), Professor Andara Nahar, the author Eli Weisel and more. It is told that he was fluent in no less than 18 languages, and had a command of physics, astronomy and mathematics to the point that renowned professors would seek his counsel in these disciplines. He had undisputed command of all of Talmudic and adjudicative literature, Earlier and Later Authorities. From his youth he would conduct "pin tests" in which he would know which letter could be found in each leaf through which the pin passed. It is also told that he almost always taught without books; he would quote from his wondrous memory. His whole life he wandered from one country to another; he had very little property.

According to the claim that his true identity was Hillel Perlman, he was born in Lithuania, or possibly Galicia, and was known for his genius from a young age, with an astonishing memory. It is told that his parents took him from one fair to another to show off his wisdom to the crowd for pay, which may have left its mark on him as an adult. There are those who claim that the trauma from his early years at the fairs was what caused his strange behavior in adulthood.

As a youth, he studied under Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook at the Otzar Chaim yeshivah in Jaffa, who valued him as one of his choice disciples, until WWI. After that, he apparently immigrated to the United States. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook sent letters to the United States, to Rabbi Meir Bar Ilan, to keep an eye on him. According to one version, Shoshani invested his money in the US stock market during the 1920s and lost his fortune in the 1929 crash. There are other versions that during the 1930s he wandered in Morocco and the Magreb countries, where he learned Arabic well, as well as customs of Oriental Jews and Islamic customs. There are two central opinions regarding how Shoshani survived to Holocaust. According to the first, he was captured by the Gestapo in Paris, and when asked to explain why he was circumcised, he claimed that he was Muslim. The Mufti of Paris, who was summoned to examine him, demanded his release after five hours of discussion, with the claim that he was a holy Muslim. According to the second version, when he was captured he was asked his occupation, and he claimed to be a mathematician. The officer who interrogated him claimed that he is in real trouble, because he himself is a professor of mathematics in his civilian life. Shoshani was undeterred and responded that he is welcome to test him in any field of mathematics of his choosing, and according to this version as well, the officer freed him.

After the war he resided in France, where he tutored students privately, and also delivered lessons to youth survivors in DP camps. It is also told that during his time in France, the Lubavitcher Rebbe attended lectures by him. There are also rumors that the Admo"r Yoel of Satmar studied with him. He ascended to Israel in 1952 and lived for a period in Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak. He returned to France in 1955-1956 and then immigrated to Uruguay. He passed away in 1968 in Uruguay during a course for religious guides and teachers. There was a note in his pocket referring to a Jew in Switzerland with respect to his identity, but that Jew passed away the very same day and thus Mr. Shoshani's secret has been preserved.

[6] notebooks. Approximately 150 pages. Densely written.

Mr. Shoshani's writings have not yet been published. They are hard to understand. The buyer will have the rights to edit and publish Mr Shoshani z"l's Torah thoughts.

Autographs of Famous Personalities