Auction No. 113

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

Apr 8, 2019

Auction No. 113

Opening $1,200
Estimate $4,000 - $5,000
Sold for $2,684
Including buyer's premium

Ma'aseh Rav is a compilation of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna's - "the GR"A"'s - conduct. His customs were compiled by Rabbi Yissachar Ber, son of R' Tanchum, in 1817, primarily according to Rabbi Saadyah, famed disciple of the GR"A, and from notes of the GR"A's conduct. It took about fifteen years to arrange and print the work. Approbations were given back in 1817, including one from Rabbi Avraham Danzig, author of Chayei Adam and the GR"A's mechutan. The book was revised and re-arranged for print in 1829, and finally printed in 1832 by R' Mordechai, son of Rabbi Yissachar Ber.

During the years between the writing and the printing of this work, various copies were made, as the publisher notes in the first printed edition. This is a copy that was finished on the 24th of Av, 1828 - that is, before the book was printed. This manuscript is so important because it is one of the solitary surviving early manuscripts that preceded the printed edition. It features clear variations from the printed text and is one of the few copies that was written in a block scribal hand.
In 1833, only one year after the printing of the first edition of the book, another edition was printed in Lemberg, but it was very different than the earlier edition. Some believe that the second edition was actually an earlier edition that had been prepared for print back in 1817. Over time, dozens of editions of the book have been printed, some with light variations to the text. However, in 1896, the GR"A's progeny printed the Tosefet Maaseh Rav in Jerusalem according to the great-grandson of the GR"A's manuscript, which was written in 1828, with many variations.

This manuscript was written in 1828 and is similar to what is considered the first edition and the Tosefet Maaseh Rav. In his article "Sefer Maaseh Rav," Yeshurun, 21, Rabbi David Kaminetzky discusses manuscripts of Maaseh Rav that were written before the book was printed [p. 825-826]. Some of those manuscripts are incomplete. In addition, manuscripts of the "first edition" are particularly rare. This manuscript is not listed by the aforementioned article nor was it available to be studied by the researchers of the GR"A's Torah and customs.

This manuscript features many variations in text to the printed edition, including some that are very significant. It includes variations to texts that were questioned by those who studied the GR"A's Torah. This edition clarifies their questions.

For example:

Siman 124 discusses eating garlic on Friday night. The printed version states, "the garlic should be cooked," which has been much discussed and questioned. But this manuscript does not say that the garlic should be cooked.

In siman 62, the printed edition reads, "Monday is completely for Hash-m," meaning that the second day of the week is completely for Hash-m. Later generations expanded on the virtues of Monday and Thursday (not just Monday), and some even wrote that the GR"A passed away on Monday. However, this manuscript clearly writes "Monday and Thursday are completely for Hash-m."
In siman 184, regarding kitniyot on Pesach, the printed edition determines "and one should not permit hemp oil." However, here it says that "flax and hemp seeds should not be permitted."
Siman 118 in the printed edition states, "During kiddush on wine, the bread should not be on the table." However, this manuscript states, "during kiddush on raisin wine, the bread should be on the table."

[12] pages. Ink on paper. Beautiful block scribal hand. Colophon at the conclusion. Fine condition. Small oily stain throughout the book's leaves. New half-leather binding.

The Vilna Gaon and his Disciples