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Bidding Information
Lot #    21813
Auction End Date    11/18/2008 10:20:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Reshit Hokhmah
Title (Hebrew)    ראשית חכמה
Author    R. Elijah b. Moshe de Vidas
City    Amsterdam
Publisher    Nataniel Puah
Publication Date    1708
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   [2], 326, [22] ff., 181:144 mm., nice margins, old hands on title, damp, use, and age staining, tears, some worming affecting single letters, bound in contemporary leather boards, tooled in blind, split, name cut out on front panel, rubbed.
   Ethical and moral work, oft reprinted, title with the printer's emblem of Nataniel Puah.

R. Elijah b. Moshe de Vidas (16th century), kabbalist, author on morals, one of the great kabbalists of Safed. R. Vidas was a disciple and close friend of R. Moses Cordovero, whom he always called "my teacher" without mentioning his name. In 1575 he completed his major work Reshit Hokhmah, one of the outstanding books on morals in Judaism. In contrast with previous authors in this field, Vidas included kabbalistic theories in his work, which was aimed at a popular audience; in particular, he quoted at length all that is said in the Zohar on the question of morals and religious conduct. Quotations from the Zohar were annotated from manuscripts still found in Safed. The book is encyclopedic in character and is divided into five long chapters, "Fear," "Love," "Repentance," "Holiness," and "Humility." Vidas added five chapters from Israel Al-nakawa's Menorat ha-Ma'or which was then known only in manuscript. They include chapters on the mitzvot, on education, on business dealings in good faith, and on manners. At the end of these, he added Huppot Eliyahu Rabbah, a collection of rabbinical sayings which list qualities (e.g., "three good qualities..."), and Or Olam, moralizing sayings which open with the word "forever" or with the word "great"; for example, "great is charity, even more than sacrifices."

R. Vidas' book is written in an easy and engaging style, avoiding metaphors. It was immediately accepted as one of the most important books on morals and was printed some 40 times. The first edition was printed in Venice in 1579 during the author's lifetime. The date of R. Vidas' death is still unknown. Because of its great length, his book was summarized several times: Reshit Hokhmah Kazar (Venice, 1600), completed in 1580 in Asti, Italy, by R. Jacob b. Mordecai Poggetti; Tappuhei Zahav, by R. Jehiel Melli (Mantua, 1623); Toze'ot Hayyim (Cracow, before 1650) by R. Jacob Luzzatto, a preacher in Poznan. These three summaries were published many times.

Paragraph 2    ... נדפס רביעית [!] ... במלוי השמטות וחסרונות אשר נפלו בראשונים מוגה מספר ... ר' יחיאל מילי זלה"ה בעל ס' תפוחי זהב [מנטובה שפ"ג] הנמצא ביד בעל הדפוס נין ונכד לגאון הנ"ל ...

מעבר לשער: דברי המדפיס. כותב בין השאר: הגאון ... ר' יחיאל מילי ... מצאתי בספרו ... שורות ... ומילוי השמטות וחסרונות ... כי נוסחא אמיתית נזדמנה לו ... מהדורא בתרא מהרב המחבר ... ואלה מוסיף על הראשונים כי ציינתי ... פסקי פסקי בכתב אשורית ... גם לרבות המ"מ ... שנשמטו ובפרט מזוהר הקדוש ותיקוניו. ובכל מקום שנזכרו תיקונים כתיבת יד ... שנדפסו אח"כ אצל הזוהר חדש רשמתי מבחוץ דף ועמוד זוהר חדש דפוס ויניציאה שנת תחי"ה [תי"'ח] וכן בזוהר שיר השירים ושאר מגילות. עם הסכמת ר' אברהם פרווינצאל מן ההוצאה הראשונה והסכמות רבני אמשטרדם: ר' שלמה די אוליוירה, ט שבט תס"ח; ר' שלמה ב"ר יעקב אאיליון, יב שבט תס"ח; ר' יהודא ליב ב"ר אפרים אשר אנשיל המבורג, ר' יוסף ב"ר ראובן יודה כ"ץ ור' פנחס זעלינג ב"ר משה סופר ונאמן הק"ק אשכנזים, יד שבט תס"ח.

   CD-EPI 0130500
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Listing Classification
18th Century:    Checked
Holland:    Checked
Other:    Ethics
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica