||First edition of the account of the imprisonment of R. Yom Tov Lipmann ben Nathan ha-Levi Heller. This bi-lingual Hebrew-German edition recounts what befell R. Yom Tov Lipmann Heller and how he had to spend 40 days in prison prior to returning to Prague in August 1629.
R. Yom Tov Lipmann ben Nathan ha-Levi Heller, (1579–1654), Moravian rabbi, commentator on the Mishnah. Heller was born in Wallerstein, Bavaria. He received his education in the home of his grandfather, Moses Wallerstein, as well as, among others, from Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal) of Prague. Besides his great talmudic knowledge, he engaged in the study of Kabbalah, religious philosophy, and Hebrew grammar and also acquired an extensive general knowledge, particularly of mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences. In 1597, when only 18 years of age, he was appointed dayyan in Prague, and served in this office for 28 years, during which period he acquired renown for his profound knowledge and for his integrity. In 1625 he was appointed rabbi of Nikolsburg (Moravia) but in that same year moved to Vienna where he was elected av bet din. Through his endeavor the suburb of Leopoldstadt (at that time still outside the boundaries of Vienna) was confirmed as a special residential quarter for Jews. Heller saw to its communal organization and orderly administration, until the settlement became "a city filled with the qualities of wisdom, wealth, and honor" (Megillat Eivah). In 1627 he returned to Prague.
When, during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), it was decreed that the Jews of Bohemia must pay a heavy tax to the government, the leaders of the Prague community, including Heller, imposed taxes upon its members to repay the loan which the community had borrowed to pay the impost. Several of the poor who opposed the assessment accused Heller of favoring the wealthy and, when their plot to remove him from office failed, slandered him to the emperor Ferdinand II, accusing him of contempt of the state and of insulting Christianity. He was imprisoned on June 25, 1629, and transferred to Vienna. When during the investigation he was asked how he dare defend the Talmud since it had been ordered to be burned by the pope, he replied: "Jews are obliged to obey the Talmud which is the main Oral Law." The sentence of death passed upon him by a court of Catholic priests was, "by grace of the emperor," commuted to a large monetary fine. Through the efforts of the Jews of Prague the other heavy penalties imposed were partly reduced. Instead of his books being banned, only the fragments on which he was condemned were erased, and the prohibition imposed on his serving in the rabbinate throughout the Austrian Empire was limited to the district of Prague. After spending 40 days in prison he returned to Prague in August 1629. He appointed the fifth of Tammuz, the day on which the order for his arrest was issued, as a fast day for all the members of his family. The details were described by Heller in his Megillat Eivah.
In 1631 he removed to Poland, living first in Lublin and subsequently in Brest-Litovsk and Nemirov (among other things he composed a eulogy on the destruction of Nemirov in the Chmielnicki massacres). From 1634 to 1643 he served as rabbi of Vladimir-Volynski. Heller took part in the rabbinical activities of the Council of Four Lands and was one of the members of the permanent battei-din and one of the chief speakers at the conventions during the fairs in Lublin, Jaroslaw, and other places. He demanded that the takkanot and bans of 1587 prohibiting the purchase of rabbinic office be renewed and strengthened. This incited against him the anger of "those that hate without cause, and mendacious enemies." As a result of a calumny, a decree of expulsion from Vladimir was issued against him, but this decree too was rescinded through the efforts of his influential friends in Warsaw. In 1643 he was called to serve in the Cracow rabbinate and after the death in 1648 of Joshua b. Joseph, author of the Meginnei Shelomo, he also headed the Cracow yeshivah. During his residence in Cracow, Heller prepared a second edition of his Tosefot Yom Tov (Prague, 1614–17; Cracow 1643–442). Following the persecutions of 1648–49 he concerned himself with the amelioration of the lot of agunot. On his death Zelig Margulies testified of him that "he did not leave the wherewithal to purchase shrouds even though he was the av bet din of Cracow... all this, because he never took dishonest money" (Introd. Hibburei Likkutim (Amsterdam, 1715)). In his commentary Tosefot Yom Tov, Heller mentions in various places his four sons, Moses, Samuel, Abraham, and Levi.
Of Heller's many works, which testify to his diversified scholarship, his commentary to the Mishnah is the most famous. He named this Tosefot Yom Tov because its purpose was to serve as an addition (tosefet) and exposition, supplement and work of source reference to the Mishnah commentary of Obadiah of Bertinoro. Heller traced the sources of the Bertinoro commentary, explained obscurities, examined and also criticized its conclusions in the sphere of halakhah, and made linguistic comments. He explained the words grammatically, noted the halakhah on the basis of the Talmud and the rishonim and aharonim and took care to establish accurate readings, most of which he added to the second edition of his commentary, through clarification and elucidation of the text on the basis of various manuscripts and earlier published works. Heller endeavored to reconcile the contradictions between one Mishnah and another by means of straightforward and logical rationalization. All his comments are formulated with the utmost simplicity—and here he follows in the footsteps of his teacher Judah Loew b. Bezalel, who opposed the method of pilpul. Despite his positive attitude to Kabbalah, he refrained from relying upon it in deciding the halakhah, since "in explaining the Talmud, we have no dealings at all with esoteric matters" (Ma'adanei Yom Tov; Ber. 1). In his opinion the Mishnah might be interpreted differently from the explanation given in the Talmud, "providing no decisions which contradict the view of the authors of the Gemara are given" (Tosefot Yom Tov to Naz. 5:5).
||מהגאון ... תוספת יום טוב ... וצוה לצאצאיו ... לקראה בר"ח שמרבין בו בשמחה (אדר) ... להודות לבורא ... אשר הפליא לעזרו מכל התלאה אשר מצאתהו ... ואנכי נצר משרשיו (משה (קערנער) באא"מ אליעזר המכונה פייבש
(מק"ק זלאטאווי במדינת פרייסען מערבית) בן אמי זקנתי ... חיה בת אבי זקני הרב מו"ה משה בהרב המחבר ... הבאתיה תחת מכבש הדפוס [בתוספת הערות] ... (האברך .. מו"ה שמעון בן ... מו"ה משה בעהם נ"י ... טרח ויגע להגיה את הספר הזה).
שנת הדפוס הלועזית במעטפת הימנית.
עברית וגרמנית, זו מול זו.
עמ' III-IV: מכתב תנחומים לר' משה שרייבער, במות עליו אשתו, מאת ר' משה קערנער.
עמ' V-VIII: דברי הקדמה ובתוכם תולדות המחבר, מאת הנ"ל. בין השאר הוא כותב: מגלת איבה מורשה היא ביד צאצאי המחבר ... בעודי עול ימים רבים חלו פני להדפיסה ... מאנתי מלא תשוקתם ... בבואי ז"ך תשרי שנת ל'פ'ה' ב'ר'ע'ס'ל'ו'י'א' י'ע'"א'
[תקע"ה] רבו המשתוקקים אשר יעצוני להדפיסה. והמושלם ... מו"ה (יהושע) העשיל המכונה מירא ... התאוה תאוה להעתיקה אל לשון אשכנזי, ופתוני להדפיסה בהשתי הלשונות ... לא אביתי שמוע ... [לבסוף] אמרתי ... לבטל רצוני ... התויתי א'ל'ה'
(לו) הערות ... ואחר כלות המגלה והערותיה יעלה ויבא המוסר השכל היוצא ממנה ...
עמ' 44-46: דברים על המהדיר, שנפטר "יום ד יד לחדש כסלו" תקצ"ז, מאת י[הושע] ה[עשיל] מירא, המתרגם, שגם כתב הקדמה משלו בגרמנית.
באותה שנה יצא הספר גם בלעמבערג, בשינויים רבים.
נוסח שלישי של "מגילת איבה" הדפיס אברהם כהנא, ספרות ההסטוריא הישראלית, ב, ווארשא תרפ"ג, עמ' 290-277, ובהקדמתו כתב: "הנוסחות של מגילת איבה שבדפוסים שונים חלו בהם ידים, וכל אחד משונה מחברו. הנוסח הניתן כאן הוא על פי כתב יד ישן".
הסכמות: ר' (שלמה) זלמן ב"ר אברהם [טיקטין], ברעסלויא, יז אלול תקצ"ו;
ר' שמואל יוסף הלוי לנדא מקעמפנא, ברעסלא, יח אלול תקצ"ו;
ר' מרדכי דוב פרידענטהאל, ברעסלויא, יא תשרי תקצ"ז (עמ' XII).