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Bidding Information
Lot #    10944
Auction End Date    7/12/2005 12:23:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Yam shel Shelomo; Shut Hakham Zevi
Title (Hebrew)    ' ;
Author    R. Solomon ben Jehiel Luria; R. Zevi Hirsch Ashken
City    Fuerth; Sudilkov
Publication Date    1766; 1825
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   [2], 92; [3], 56 ff., 355:205 mm., wide margins, old hands, stamps, usual light age staining. A very good copy loose in contemporary leather boards.
   Two important works bound together. The first is the novellae Yam shel Shelomo on tractate Hullin by R. Solomon ben Jehiel Luria (Maharshal, c. 1510-74). In Yam shel Shelomo, Maharshal traces the development of halakhot from the time of the geonim, based on the Talmud. Halakhic novellae on tractate Bava Kamma by R. Solomon ben Jehiel Luria (Maharshal, see above . . .). In Yam shel Shelomo, Maharshal traces the development of halakhot from the time of the geonim, based on the Talmud. Seven tractates only (Bezah, Gittin, Kiddushin, Ketubbot, Yevamot, Bava Kamma, and Hullin) of the sixteen that originally encompassed this, perhaps Maharshals most important work, are extant today. The title, Yam shel Shelomo, alludes both to Lurias name and to the sea that King Solomon made (cf. I Kings7:23). Yam Shel Shlomo was the result of many years effort. The result is an analytic halakhic compendium based on the Talmud, organized by tractate. Maharshal believed that later halakhic works intended to summarize the conclusions of their predecessors and provide halakhic rulings confused rather than clarified issues and might be utilized for future rulings without recourse to their Talmudic source. Maharshal is not reticent to state that post-Talmudic authorities are in error when he believes that to be the case, particularly objecting to the methodology of R. Joseph Caro. Luria, who is opposed to pilpul, explains the halakhah in a lucid forthright manner, demonstrating its historic development, and offering his own conclusions.

Few biographical details are known about the Maharshal. He was probably born in Poznan (Poland). His family was related to many of the important families of the time, including Katzenellenbogen and Minz of Padua. Luria was orphaned in his youth. He was educated by his maternal grandfather, R. Isaac Klober, a well-known scholar, and Maharshal took pride in the fact that he received most of his learning and traditions from him. When 40 years old he was appointed rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Ostrog. About 20 years later he moved to Brisk (Brest-Litovsk) where he may also have been rabbi before he went to Ostrog, and then to Lublin where he served as a rosh yeshivah, at first in the yeshivah founded by R. Shalom Shachna. However, after becoming involved in a quarrel with R. Israel, the son of R. Shalom, he left and in 1567, with the permission of the government, founded his own yeshivah where he was able to teach in accordance with his own system. Among his outstanding pupils were R. Mordecai Jaffe and R. Joshua Falk.

The second title is the responsa of R. Zevi Hirsch Ashkenazi (Hakham Zevi, 16601718). The title page is undated and lacks the place of publication. There are 169 responsa from the Hakham Zevi. This is his most important chief work These responsa reflect his stormy life and his many wanderings. Questions were addressed to him from all parts of Europe - from London to Lublin and from Hamburg to "Candia in Italy" dealing in particular with problems which arose from the condition of the Jews in various countries. They shed light on the communal organization, its privileges and regulations. He wrote his first responsa in 1676, about the time he was sent to the yeshivah of R. Elijah Covo in Salonika to study the Sephardi scholars' method of study. During his stay in Salonika (167678?) and Belgrade (1679), he adopted Sephardi customs and manners and, despite his Ashkenazi origin, assumed the title "hakham," the Sephardi title for a rabbi and also the name "Ashkenazi." In 1680 he returned to Ofen and continued his studies. After his wife and daughter were killed during the siege of Ofen by the Imperial army of Leopold I, R. Ashkenazi escaped to Sarajevo where he was appointed hakham of the Sephardi community. His parents were taken prisoner by a Brandenburg regiment after the fall of Ofen and ransomed by Jews in Berlin. It seems that only much later Ashkenazi received the news that his parents were alive.

Three responsa (74, 76, 77) deal with the celebrated problem of the chicken which was allegedly found to have no heart. His decision that such a bird was kasher created a sensation in the rabbinic world, and was vigorously opposed by such leading rabbis as Moses Rothenburg, Naphtali Katz of Frankfort, David Oppenheim, and Jonathan Eybeschuetz, who vehemently attacked the decision. He was supported by his son, R. Jacob Emden. In one of his responsa (no. 93) R. Ashkenazi deals with the question of whether a golem could be counted in a minyan ("religious quorum"), one such being having been fashioned by his grandfather, R. Elijah of Chelm. When in 1705 R. David Nieto of London expressed views which were deemed by his community to be heretical and bordering upon the doctrine of Spinoza, the matter was brought before R. Ashkenazi, who accepted R. Nieto's explanations (no. 8). The mutual relations between Ashkenazim and Sephardim are dealt with in a number of responsa (14, 38, 99). For example, on the question of whether it is permissible for Ashkenazim to use a Sephardi scroll, written in accordance with the views of Maimonides for the public reading of the Torah, he concludes that Ashkenazi and Sephardi scrolls are equally valid since the subdivision into sections is the same in both cases. As to the question of whether the Zohar should be given priority and relied upon in halakhic rulings, he declares emphatically that "even if the Zohar were to contradict the halakhic authorities we could not discard the opinions of the halakhic authorities in favor of what is written in the esoteric law; for in the laws and their practical application we are not concerned with mystic lore. But in cases where halakhic authorities differ, it is proper to follow the decision of the Zohar" (no. 36). In 1692 he published his glosses to the Turei Zahav on the Hoshen Mishpat. Opposed to pilpul in the study of the Talmud, he demanded a systematic and fundamental analysis of the subject matter.

   EJ; Vin Fuerth 336; Sudilkov 75
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Listing Classification
18th Century:    Checked
19th Century:    Checked
Germany:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Halacha:    Checked
Responsa:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica