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Bidding Information
Lot #    22480
Auction End Date    12/23/2008 1:18:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Or ha-Hayyim with commentary Ma'yan Gannim
Title (Hebrew)    אור החיים ע'פ מעין גנים
Author    [Hasidim - First Ed.] R. Zevi Elimelekh Shapira
City    Zholkva
Publisher    Saul Meir Hoffer
Publication Date    1848
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition of commentary. [1], 32, [2] ff., 240:184 mm., extra wide margins, light age and damp staining, old hands, stamps. A very good copy bound in contemporary boards, rubbed.
   With kabbalistic commentary by R. Zevi Elimelekh Shapira (1785–1841), hasidic zaddik in Dynow, Galicia, often known after his main work as "the author of Benei Yissakhar" (Zolkiew, 1850). He was a disciple of R. Zevi Hirsch of Zhidachov, R. Jacob Isaac "ha-Hozeh" ("the seer") of Lublin, and the Maggid R. Israel of Kozienice. R. Zevi Elimelech served as rabbi in Strzyzow, Halicz, Dynow, and Munkacs. His total opposition to Haskalah and philosophy was evidenced in both his devotion to Kabbalah as the essence of Judaism and his statement that "there is no knowledge, either in the realm of science or philosophy, which is not alluded to in the Torah [which is higher than the intellect]" (Benei Yissakhar, Sec. 2:88). He considered philosophical enquiry a waste of time and of soul. Rational reason should not be sought for the mitzvot, but they should be observed with love, as divine decrees, whether rational or not, without questioning or seeking proofs. Man must have faith "even in two opposite [commands of God] where the intellect cannot solve the contradiction" (ibid., Sec. 1, 73). The task of the zaddik is of utmost importance since by means of the high spiritual level he attains he may help to unite the upper and lower worlds. R. Zevi Elimelech differentiated between two types of zaddikim: the perfect one, "the servant of God" (eved adonai) and the one who only "worships God" (oved Adonai). Worship of God must combine both love and fear. Fear corresponds to zimzum and love corresponds to hitpashetut ("expansion"). Just as there can be no stability or survival for worlds without zimzum, so if it were not for fear, man would dissolve in ecstasy "and the light of the soul would depart from its earthly container." Fear of Divine Majesty – in contradistinction to fear of punishment – is the acme of faith. A man "to whom God gives knowledge (binah) is enabled to retreat within himself directing his thought to his Creator also while in the company of other men." Dynow thus reformulates Nahmanides' thesis (commentary on Deuteronomy 11:20).

Dynow's writings comprise (1) kabbalistic: glosses to the commentary of R. Eleazar of Worms on Sefer Yezirah (Przemysl, 1888); commentary on the beginning of R. Eleazar's Sefer Hokhmat ha-Nefesh (Lemberg, 1876); glosses to the Zohar (Przemysl, 1899); Ma'yan Gannim, a commentary on Or ha-Hayyim (1848) by Joseph Jabetz; Regel Yesharah (Lemberg, date of publication not known), an alphabetical commentary on names and concepts on the basis of the kabbalistic system of R. Isaac Luria. (2) Homiletic and exegetical works which became popular among Hasidim, among them Derekh Pikkudekha (Lemberg, 1851), homilies on the mitzvot; Igra de-Kallah (Lemberg, 1868), homilies on the Torah; Igra de-Pirka (Lemberg, 1858); Likkutei Maharza (Przemysl, 1885), on the Torah and the Prophets; Keli ha-Ro'im (Lemberg, 1808), commentary on Obadiah; Devarim Nehmadim (Przemysl, 1885); Maggid Ta'alumah (Przemysl, 1876), novellae to tractate Berakhot; Rei'ah Duda'im (Munkacs, 1879), on tractate Megillah; Ve-Heyeh Berakhah (Przemysl, 1875), commentary on Mishnah Berakhot; Berakhah Meshulleshet (Przemysl, 1896, commentary on the Mishnah); Tamkhin de-Oraita (Munkacs, 1926).

Theological-homiletic work by R. Joseph ben Hayyim Jabez (d. 1507), Hebrew homilist and exegete. From the prefaces to some of his works, it seems that after the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Jabez traveled to Lisbon, to Sicily, and then to northern Italy, after a brief stay in Naples, arriving in 1493 or 1494 in Mantua, one of the largest and most cultured Italian-Jewish communities. There he remained and was honorably accepted as part of that community, apparently as its official preacher. Both in his travels and in Mantua, he preached about the meaning of the catastrophe that had befallen Spanish Jewry. Among his published works, most of which were written after the expulsion, are four theological-homiletic compositions, which treat three main questions: Hasdei ha-Shem (Constantinople, 1533), on the Diaspora and messianic expectations; Or ha-Hayyim (appended to Ma'amar ha-Ahdut, Ferrara, 1554; separately Shklov, 1796), on Jewish philosophy and its influence upon the fate of Spanish Jewry; and two short treatises (published with the first edition of Or ha-Hayyim), "Ma'amar ha-Ahdut" (Ferrara, 1554) and "Yesod ha-Emunah" (appended to Ma'amar ha-Ahdut), on the ikkarim, the "dogmas" of Judaism.

In asserting that philosophical rationalism was to blame for the choice by so many Spanish Jews of conversion rather than exile and suffering, he expressed the feeling of many of his contemporaries. Jabez – who hated philosophy – maintained that the philosophical intellectuals did not consider the observance of the commandments as the most important aspect of religious life, and therefore were not prepared to sacrifice themselves for that observance. He did not attack Maimonides directly, but accused Maimonides' pupils and followers of distorting his views and thus of bringing the religious catastrophe upon Spanish Jewry.

Similarly, in his treatment of the question of the ikkarim, R. Jabez opposed all his predecessors who attempted to formulate a rational basis for the dogmas of Judaism, claiming that rational proof of a dogma leaves no room for religious belief. Accordingly, he did not include the existence and unity of G-d – which, he maintained, can be rationally proved – among the three main dogmas he proposed, namely, the creation of the world, divine providence, and the belief in redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Although polemics against many contemporaries comprise much of his writing, Hasdei ha-Shem contains elements of hope in its description of the exile as necessary for the expiation of the people's sins, and the great Jewish sufferings in his own day as indicative of the approaching redemption. ,p> Besides these theological works, all printed in several later editions as well, Jabez' writings include a commentary on the tractate Avot (Constantinople, 1533), one on Psalms (Salonika, 1571), and many other works still in manuscript.

Paragraph 2    ... הרב ... ר' צבי אלימלך [שפירא] זלה"ה מ"כ ב"ק דינוב עבר בעמק הספר ... והשתיל סביבות דברי המחבר הגהות ... בשם מעין גנים ... הובא לבית הדפוס ע"י בנו ... ר' שמואל נ"י ... בש'נת מ'ע'י'י'ן' ג'נ'י'ם' ב'א'ר' מ'י' ד'ח'י'י'ם'
   Ben-Sasson, in: Zion, 26 (1960/61), 23–64, passim; idem, in: Sefer Yovel… Y. Baer (1960), 216–27; Horodezky, hasidut, 2 (19534), 201–18; idem, in: Mezudah (1948), 284–9; Berger, Eser Zahzahot (1909), 106–118; M. Bodek, Seder ha-Dorot (1927), 67; L. Grossmann, Shem u-She'erit (1943), 21–23; R. Mahler, Ha-Hasidut ve-ha-Haskalah (1961), index; N.Z. Horowitz, Ohel Naftali (1964), 98–99; CD-EPI 0136007
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Hasidic:    Checked
Kabbalah:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica