Auction No. 113

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

Apr 8, 2019

Auction No. 113

Opening $ 18,000
Estimate $ 40,000 - $ 50,000

Zamir Aritzim V'Charavot Tzurim. "To prune and cut down all thorns ... that surround the rose." By R' Aryeh Yehudah Leib of Broyde. Oleksinetz, [1772]. First book in history written to oppose the Chassidim. Work of immense historic value. Exceptionally rare. Incomplete copy.

The first publication opposing Chassidut and Chassidim. Includes proclamation of a ban against Chassidut and other documents. This work reverberated harshly throughout the Jewish diaspora and caused many Chassidim to gather together to plan an appropriate reaction and defense.

The work was printed in the summer of 1772, about a half of a year before the passing of the Maggid of Mezeritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov as leader of the nascent Chassidic movement. The first Admor of Lubavitch, the "Baal HaTanya," wrote about the harsh results of the book's publication: "The book was sent all over the exile. The magnitude of derision and suffering that it caused to the famed righteous people of Wolyn is unbelievable - to the extent that they could not sit in their homes and they all came to rest in the shade of the great Rebbe (the Maggid of Mezeritch) in Rivne to confer and decide what to do."

The work includes: Leaf 1b: "Iggeret HaKanaut" from Vilna about the first Chassidim in Vilna and their customs.
Leaf 3b: Excommunication announced in Brodt in 1872.
Leaf 6a: "Tosefet Biur" about the "innovators who destroy our customs."
Leaf 11b: Writings that reached the Brisk, Lithuania community from the Vilna community, signed by 15 community trustees, headed by Reb Shmuel, Av Beit Din, and the Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna.
Leaf 14b: Letter sent from Vilna to ... the heads of the communities ... the rabbis" by the Vilna rabbis, led by the Vilna Gaon; "Matters discussed" regarding the growth of Chassidut in the communities of Vilna, Minsk and Sklow; "Regulations of the Leshnov Community" against the "people known as Chassidim," signed by the rabbis and leaders of Leshnov. In addition to various supplements by the copier: "... I also heard from trustworthy people by members of the holy Vilna community that they scream during prayers ... and it is said in the name of the true chassid, Moreinu, Eliyahu that he knows that this is a big קליפה [blockage]."

This public opposition triggered a storm. The Chassidic community destroyed every copy that they could find and even paid a lot of money to purchase additional copies so that they could destroy them. This means that even two hundred years ago, this work was very uncommon!

About sixteen years after it was printed, in 1798, another compilation was printed with the title Zamir Aritzim, which also opposed Chassidut. However, its content is completely different; it was authored by R' David of Makow. That booklet is better known, and so some bibliographers erroneously believed that this rare booklet was similar to the second. Refer to the National Library catalog, entry 001729888. In 1904, Ephraim Deinard printed another edition of this work. He called it "Zamir Aritizim HaRishon" to clarify the matter.

Much has been written about the historic significance of this work. Some even attributed it to the Vilna Gaon (!) or his disciple Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. Today this theory has been thoroughly disproven, however it still indicates the significance of the printing of this work. Today, researchers believe that the copier was the author "Aryeh Yehudah Leib, son of Rabbi Mordechai, scribe of Brody." There are also discussions regarding the place of print, Oleksinetz, near Brody. Some write that the publishers were a joint team from Vilna and Brody. They note the words of the Baal HaTanya "that they wrote there from Vilna" - indicating that the Vilna community was the dominant cause of the publication. Refer to Mordechai Wilensky's study, Zamir Aritizim V'Charavot Tzurim: Critical edition by Mordechai Wilensky, in his monumental work Chassidim and Mitnagdim, I, printed in 1970.

Especially rare work. Noted bibliographer, Rabbi Chaim Lieberman, wrote: "This edition is one of the rarest books." There is only one known complete copy in the world - the copy in the National Library in Jerusalem. This copy had been in Shlomo Dubno's library, from where it then joined the library of collector and bibliographer Yisrael Mehlman, 1745, and he wrote, "Extremely uncommon and valuable."

The book consists of [16] leaves. Before us are 13 leaves from the book and 3 leaves [13,15,16] in facsimile, 17 cm.
Fine-very fine condition. Aging stains. New leather binding, within a beautiful linen slipcase.

The Vilna Gaon and his Disciples