Auction No. 113

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

Apr 8, 2019

Auction No. 113

Opening $5,000
Estimate $8,000 - $10,000
Sold for $11,590
Including buyer's premium

'Letters' of Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Baki, one of the rabbis of Casale, in which he gathered, according to the custom of contemporary scholars, missives, letters, texts of deeds, engagement contracts, letters of recommendation, and the like – and at the beginning, 13 missives from the great controversy about – Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto – the Ramcha"l.

The 'Egron' before us is undoubtedly a treasure trove from the scholars of Italy in the 18th century.

Background about the Ramcha"l controversy: when it became known outside Italy that the Ramcha"l had an angel from heaven who revealed secrets to him and that around him was a group of scholars who studied the secrets of the Torah, the rabbis of Ashkenaz, headed by Rabbi Moshe Hagiz who was then staying in Ashkenaz, decided to come out strongly against the Ramcha"l, fearing that he was a new false messiah.

The rabbi of Ashkenaz wrote to the rabbis of Italy asking them to persecute him to the point of total excommunication, after which a bitter dispute erupted between them for four years straight, and many missives were sent in the meantime as a result of this episode.

In 1937, Dr. S. Ginzburg published a large collection of missives by the Ramcha"l and his contemporaries. The collection before us contains 13 missives from this well-known affair, among them missives by Rabbi Moshe Hagiz, missives by the Ramcha"l, Rabbi Yekutiel Gordon of Vilna, Rabbi Emanuel Kolbo the physician and the scholars of Livorno – four of these 13 missives have not been published in the aforementioned book and were unknown until this Egron.

In this variegated Egron, Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Baki gathered together a collection of letters of recommendation for the poor, redemption of captives, bridal funds, a letter of recommendation for a woman who was searching for her husband, letters of ordination, acceptance letters and permits for ritual slaughterers, condolence letters, a letter of dismissal, a chalitzah deed, a last will and testament, a deed of sale of a place in a synagogue, warnings to cheese-makers, letters of recommendation for Italian Jews who wanted to immigrate to the Land of Israel, texts of engagement and wedding agreements according to the Mantova custom, and more – some of the letters and ordinations were given to extremely well-known rabbis and personages.

The rabbis of Italy: the Egron contains letters by dozens of Italian rabbis. We shall mention but the most well-known of them: Rabbi Yitzchak Lampronti (author of Pachad Yitzchak), Rabbi David Finzi (the Ramchal's father-in-law), Rabbi Binyamin HaKohen – the Raba"ch, his son-in-law Rabbi Yeshayahu Bassan (author of Lachmei Todah, the Ramcha"l's rabbi), his son Rabbi Yisrael Binyamin Bassan, Rabbi Shimshon Morpurgo (author of Shemesh Tzedakah), Rabbi Aviad Sar Shalom Basil (author of Emunat Chachamim) , Rabbi Shimshon Chaim Nachmani (author of Zera Shimshon), Rabbi Yaakov Abuhav - Av Beit Din of Venice, Rabbi Avraham Segre, Rabbi Yehoshua Segre, Rabbi Menashe Yehoshua of Padova, Rabbi Shabtai Elchanan of the elders, Rabbi Mordechai Tzahalon of Ferrara, Rabbi Natan Finkleri, Rabbi Yuda Mindola, Rabbi Gabriel Pontrimoli, Rabbi Eliyahu HaLevi Av Beit Din of Alessandria and many more.

Among the letters, there are also two missives by Rabbi David di Silva, son of Rabbi Chizkiyah di Silva, author of Pri Chadash. The first, to Rabbi Avraham Segre about his difficult economic situation with a description of his efforts to print his father's books – Pri Chadash and Mayim Chaim, and the second, a letter of recommendation for Rabbi Yehoshua ibn Ezra.

The missives were printed in the Metzudah anthology (Tel-Aviv 1945), pp. 213 and onward.

The vast majority of the letters are from the 1730s.

244 pages, approximately 50 of which are blank. 20x14 cm. Eloquent rabbinical Italian script.

Very fine condition. Aging stains. Magnificent new leather binding.

The Ramcha”l and Italian Jewry