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Bidding Information
Lot #    28982
Auction End Date    1/25/2011 10:28:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Tehillah le-David
Title (Hebrew)    תהלה לדוד
Author    [First Ed.] R. Judah b. David Messer Leon
City    Constantinople
Publisher    Joseph b. Isaac Jabez
Publication Date    1576
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition. 108, 4 ff., 188:145 mm., light age and damp staining, wide margins, paper repairs, contains the oft lacking final 4 ff. A very good copy bound in modern half vellum and marbled paper over boards.
   Religious philosophy by R. Judah b. David Messer Leon (1470/72?–1526?), rabbi and religious philosopher. Born in Mantua, Italy, R. Leon studied in his father's yeshiva in Naples, where he was ordained at the age of 18 by French and German rabbis. He then went to the yeshiva of R. Judah Minz in Padua. In 1494 he was living in Florence, about 1505 moved to Salonika, and about 1512 was appointed rabbi of Valona, Albania. In this town there were many disputes between the various communities because of the desire of the exiles from Spain and Portugal to impose their customs on the existing communities. He became involved in these disputes, and in one of them excommunicated his opponent, Meir ibn Verga. On the night of the Day of Atonement, during a fierce quarrel between the various communities, he was insulted and banned two scholars among the heads of the community who opposed him. His ruling, which attempted to justify his action and prove that the ban was legally in force, was published under the title Kevod Hakhamim (ed. by S. Bernfeld, 1899). There is, however, a conjecture that a great part of this work was taken from the responsa of R. Joseph Colon (Venice, 1519, ed. no. 170). As a result of these disputes, he returned to Salonika where he died.

R. Leon combined vast erudition in Jewish subjects with a comprehensive knowledge of general culture, particularly in philosophy. In the study of Torah he preferred the method of the rabbis of Germany and France to the methods of the rabbis of Spain. An admirer of Maimonides, R. Leon, in those of his works that have remained unpublished, Magen David (dealing with the problem of the nature of the Sefirot and compiled apparently before 1506) and Ein ha-Kore (a commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed), defended Maimonides' philosophical method and attempted to answer the complaints of his critics. He was opposed to R. Levi b. Gershom and Isaac Abrabanel, mainly because their views differed from those of Maimonides. His combination of general culture with values originating from Jewish religion and culture is reflected in his query to R. Jacob b. David Provencal "on the view of the sages of the Talmud in the study of the natural sciences, logic, philosophy, and medicine." The reply (published in the collection Divrei Hakhamim (1849), 63–74, of R. Eliezer Ashkenazi), that "each one of the seven sciences is praiseworthy and valued in the eyes of our sages," addressed him as one who would produce "fruit from the tree, but not forsake the root in order to take hold of the husk." Apparently R. Leon also engaged in Kabbalah. He stated that although his father refused to allow him to engage in it "because of his tender age," he studied Kabbalah in secret. Among his other works worthy of mention are Tehillah le-David (Constantinople, 1577), on religious philosophy, published by his grandson Aaron Leon; Sod ha-Gemul; and his rulings and responsa, and letters and poems (some also in Latin) – most of which are still in manuscript.

Paragraph 2    שחבר ... מהר"ר מיסיר דוד בן הרב ... מיסיר ליאון זלה"ה באמונות ועיקרי התורה ודרושיה והוציא לאור תעלומיו בן בנו ... הה"ר אהרן לבית ליאון נרו ... חלק א-ג. והיתה התחלת המלאכה ... יום שני טו לירח חשון שנת בימים ההם ובעת ההיא אצמיח לדוד צ'מ'"ח' צ'ד'ק'"ה' ועשה משפט וצדקה בארץ

דף צז, א: "עד כאן נמצא בספר עצמו כתיבת יד של הרב המחבר והניחו כך פתוח שכונתו היה עליו להוסיף ... ולא הספיק להשלים ... עד שנתבקש בישיבה של מעלה ... אמר הצעיר ... אהרן לבית לאון ... אמרתי ... להציב ציונים ומפתחות". בדבריו הוא מזכיר את ספריהם של המחבר ואביו, שנשארו בכתב-יד. ד דף, בסוף: אמר אהרן, אחר כלת הדפסת ספר תהלה לדוד באו לידי ב דרושים מהרב המחבר והסכמתי להדפיסם... אחד דרוש לחופה והשני נקראת אגרת יסודי הצדיקים וזהו הדרוש לחופה והוא שייך לפרק שבעה ושלשים מחלק שלישי. חלק א: במעלות התורה ושלמות מקבליה ושלמות מרע"ה [משה רבינו עליו השלום] אשר נתנה על ידו. חלק ב: ביסודות שנקראו בלשון אמונה שהם למעלה מהחקירה (דף לו-סח, א). חלק ג: בעיקרי האלהות בחקירת תאריו ושמותיו יתברך. ושלש עשרה מדותיו והשגחתו ושכר ועונש ודרוש המזל והבחירה והמראות האלהיות.

   Michael, Or, no. 727; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (19302), 79, 85–88, 110–3; G. Scholem, in: KS, 9 (1932–33), 258; D. Tamar, ibid., 26 (1949/50), 96–100; EJ; CD-EPI 0125224.
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Listing Classification
16th Century:    Checked
Greece-Turkey:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica