||Attractive edition of this popular kabbalistic work on the order of Tu Bish’vat attributed to Nathan of Gaza (Nathan Binyamin Ghazzati), the prophet of the false messiah Shabbetai Zevi. The title page informs that the book is primarily taken from Hemdat Yamim, believed to be by a major Sabbatean work by Nathan and the Zohar. Formally, Peri Eitz Hadar contains four basic sections. After an introduction that explains the basis for the Tu Bish’vat seder, there is a prayer to be said before the actual seder begins. This is followed by a description of the order of the fruit to be eaten and the way wine should be blended in each of the four cups. However, the bulk of the seder consists of selections from the Bible, early rabbinic texts, and the Zoharic literature. In fact, the greatest portion of this material is taken from the Zohar. The text is in two volumes with minor errors in pagination. Despite like number of pages the use of varying stock makes the two volumes different in width.
Written by an unknown author, Pri Etz Hadar was included in the Sefer Ḥemdat Yamim by R. Yisrael Yakov Ben Yom Tov Algazi (1680-1756), the father of the Maharit Algazi, a friend of the Hida, the Rosh Yeshiva of Beit El in Jerusalem. One of the great mekubalim of his time, R. Algazi’s name added greatly to the credibility of Hemdat Yamim despite its attribution by Rabbi Yaakov Emden (and modern scholars) to Nathan of Gaza (1643-1680) the 17th century mystic who greatly encouraged the aspiring messiah Shabbtai Tzvi. Sefer Hemdat Yamim remains a major source of kabbalistic minhagim (customs) still practiced by followers of the Ari z”l’s school of Jewish mysticism in the Ashkanzi (Hasidim), Temani (Shami), Sefaradi, and Mizrachi Jewish communities.
Nathan of Gaza (1643/4–1680), one of the central figures of the Shabbatean movement. His full name was Abraham Nathan b. Elisha Hayyim Ashkenazi, but he became famous as Nathan the Prophet of Gaza, and after 1665 his admirers generally called him "the holy lamp" (buẓina kaddisha), the honorific given to R. Simeon b. Yoḥai in the Zohar. The combination of great intellectual and imaginative power which was his main characteristic resulted in his having visions of angels and deceased souls after a short time. He delved deeply into Lurianic Kabbalah, following the ascetic rules laid down by Isaac Luria . Shortly before or after Purim 1665 he had a significant ecstatic experience accompanied by a prolonged vision (he speaks of 24 hours) of the divine world revealing how its different stages were connected, a vision that differed in many significant details from the Lurianic scheme. Through this revelation he became convinced of the messianic mission of Shabbetai Zevi, whose figure he saw engraved on the divine throne. When the latter returned from his mission to Egypt and came to see him in Gaza, Nathan finally convinced him of his messianic destiny by producing a pseudepigraphic vision, attributed to a medieval saint, Abraham Hasid, who as it were foretold the birth and early history of Shabbetai Zevi and confirmed his superior rank. In his ecstasy Nathan had heard a voice announcing in the name of God that Shabbetai Zevi was the Messiah; he therefore became the prophet of the “son of David,” the mission that the biblical prophet Nathan had fulfilled for King David. As he had been vouchsafed charismatic gifts since his ecstatic awakening, many people made pilgrimages to him from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. He showed "the roots of their souls," revealed their secret sins, and prescribed ways to penance. Since his prophetic powers were widely acknowledged as genuine, his endorsement of Shabbetai Zevi's messianic claim gave the decisive impetus to the mass movement which swept the Jewish people everywhere.