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Bidding Information
Lot #    26389
Auction End Date    3/23/2010 12:12:30 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Sifra di-Zeni'uta
Title (Hebrew)    ספרא דצניעותא
Author    [Kabbalah - First Ed.] R. Elijah of Vilna
City    Vilna-Grodna
Publisher    Menahem Mann & Simhah Zimel
Publication Date    1820
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition. [4 of 6 - wanting title and f. 1], 59, [1 of 3 - wanting final 2] ff., 201:160 mm., wide margins, light age and damp staining. A very good copy bound in later boards, rubbed.
   Sifra di-Zeni'uta ("Book of Concealment"), portion ogf the Zohar, a kind of fragmented commentary on the portion Bereshit, in short obscure sentences, like an anonymous Mishnah, in five chapters, printed at the end of portion Terumah (2:176b–179a). In several manuscripts and in the Cremona edition (1558–60) it is found in the portion Bereshit. The Gaon in his commentary pays special attention to establishing the correct readings. His chief aim, however, was to explain the Kabbalah sources in such a way as to abolish any contradictions between them and the talmudic sources. Wherever he found such contradictions he ascribed them to error in the understanding of the Kabbalah sources or of the words of the Talmud. He applied the same thoroughness to the kabbalistic works of R. Isaac Luria, in which he delved deeply, and “he brought them out of the darkness caused by copyists' errors” (R. Hayyim of Volozhin in the famed introduction to the commentary to the Sifra di-Zeni'uta). His method of exposition in Kabbalah literature was also directed to understanding the words in their plain sense, although pupils said that in every literal interpretation he gave there was latent the esoteric meaning of the passage. Because of his attachment to Kabbalah he took a negative attitude to philosophy, which he designated “the accursed.” In particular his criticism was directed against Maimonides who rejected the efficacy of the use of Divine Names, charms, and amulets, thus denying the possibility of practical Kabbalah, which Elijah had followed from his early youth (Be'ur ha-Gra to Sh. Ar., YD 179:6). In his critical observations against philosophy he did not refrain from sharply attacking even R. Moses Isserles. When the Gaon gives the view of R. Isserles who, following Maimonides, interprets pardes as wisdom, he comments, “Neither he nor Maimonides saw the pardes” (ibid. to YD 246:4). Despite all his vast knowledge and understanding of Kabbalah, Elijah opposed preference being given to its study over that of the halakhah, as he opposed changes in the text of the liturgy and new customs, in which he saw echoes of Shabbateanism.

R. Elijah ben Solomon Zalman of Vilna (1720-97) is a dominant figure in Jewish intellectual thought, his importance and prestige undiminished, as great today, if not greater, than in his own time. The Vilna Gaon’s extraordinary intelligence, expressed by his expertise in Torah at the age of three, outdistancing his tutors while a young child, his incredible proficiency over the entire expanse of the written and Oral Torah by nine, by which time he was already studying Kabbalah, accompanied by complete piety, are attested to by numerous reputable sources. More than seventy works, encompassing Bible, halakhah, Talmud, Kabbalah, and general sciences are attributed to him.

Paragraph 2    ממנו יתד ממנו פנה לאדרא רבא ולאדרא זוטא. ויסוד מוסד לכל דברי הזוהר ... ביאור רחב על כל ענין וענין ... וכמעט על כל תיבה ותיבה, מראשית ספרא דנא ועד תומו. הכינה ... הגאון ... אליהו מווילנא זצוק"ל...

דף [2]: הקדמת בן בנו של הגר"א, ר' יעקב משה מסלונים, שהביא את הספר לדפוס. דף [6-3]: הקדמת ר' חיים ב"ר יצחק מוואלוזין. [3] דף (בסוף הספר): מליקוטי הגאון ז"ל המדברים בעניינים שהוזכרו בביאור זה הספר. ראינו שני טפסים שבהם קדמה הקדמת ר' חיים מוולאזין להקדמת נכד המחבר. אחד מהם נדפס על ניר משובח עם שולים רחבים בתבנית 2.

הסכמות רבני ווילנא: ר' שאול ב"ר יוסף [קאצנלנבוגן], כז תמוז תק"ף (עם חידוש: "מלת איש יאמר פעם על הגוף ופעם על הנפש"); ר' אברהם אבלי ב"ר אברהם שלמה [פוסבולר], עש"ק [ערב שבת קורח, ד תמוז] תק"ף.

   CD-EPI 0177999; H. Zeitlin, Be-Fardes ha-Hasidut ve-ha-Kabbalah (1960), 55–279; G. Scholem, Bibliographia Kabbalistica (1933), 66–210; M. Benayahu, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Cremona (1971), 206–9; EJ; JE
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Kabbalah:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica