Ta'amei Mitzvot, R. Menahem ha-Bavli, Lublin 1570-71 (49806)

טעמי מצות - First Edition

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 49806
Title (English): Ta'amei Mitzvot
Title (Hebrew): טעמי מצות
Note: First Edition
Author: R. Menahem ben Moses ha-Bavli
City: Lublin
Publisher: Eliezer ben Isaac/Isaac ben Eliezer Shalit
Publication Date: 1570-71
Estimated Price: $3,000.00 USD - $6,000.00 USD
Content/listingImages/20200723/7ec10c20-a9a4-4c51-94fa-d799d16c72b6_fullsize.jpg Content/listingImages/20200723/1259be02-3f62-4844-a491-dc2c94814769_fullsize.jpg


Physical Description

Only edition, quarto, [52] ff. 198:149 mm., usual light age staining, wide margins, title extended to size, . A very good copy bound in modern vellum over boards.


Detail Description

Annotations on and explanations of the precepts by R. Menahem ben Moses ha-Bavli (d. 1571). Menahem is one of the sages of Erez Israel in the sixteenth century. That he was highly regarded can be seen from the prominent rabbis who quote or refer to him in their responsa. Little is known about his background, but he is believed to have come from Italy, perhaps from a family originally from Baghdad (although this has been the subject of some contention), serving as a dayyan in Trikkola, Greece, where he signed a responsum (no. 2) dated 28 Shevat 5282 (February 5, 1522), printed in Binyamin Ze'ev (Venice, 1538-39, above, pp. 230-31), going to Erez Israel sometime after that date. By 1537 he was already in Safed, together with his father and brother Reuben, known from a responsum (I no. 43) of R. Moses di Trani (ha-Mabit, Venice, 1629-30). A responsum of Menahem's on divorce was published in the responsa of R. Joseph Caro (Salonika, 1597, below, pp. 880-81). Menahem engaged in the wool-dyeing business with Reuben, but left Safed, after 1546, to help in the resettlement of Hebron.

The title page is simple. As with several other early Lublin imprints, it states that it was printed by the printers noted at the end of the work, given in the colophon as Eliezer ben Isaac and Isaac ben Eliezer Shalit. The title page is dated Tuesday, 14 Tevet אשל (331 = December 22, 1570), and the completion date, in the colophon, is Thursday, 22 Shevat אשל (January 28, 1571). There is an introduction from Menahem, where he identifies himself as R. Menahem ha-Bavli ha-Hevroni. He rejoices on the completion of the 248 pos­itive commandments, equal to the number of limbs אבירי, the subject of several word plays. R. Menahem declines any benefit from the book, the income from it going to Hebron "to repair the breaches and rebuild that which was torn down so that they may have rest from the robbers and plunderers of the night, so that, with the help of G-d and the merit of the patriarchs [who rest in Hebron] those who study day and night will not be dis­turbed."

Ta'amei Mitzvot is on the reasons for the commandments, often with kabbalistic over­tones. An example of the entries is that for the positive precept to mourn for the dead, where, in the second paragraph on the subject, R. Menahem writes:

"And Jacob ב awoke ץ from his sleep ו, and he said ר, [Surely the L-rd is in this place; and I knew it not]" (Genesis 28: 16). The last letters of the words equal צבור (congregation), and it is written, "Surely the Lord is in this place," to make known that in the place where there is a congregation there too is the Divine presence and that Scripture considers anyone who assists his companion with a mitzvah as if he performed it himself, for it says, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph [with him]" (Exodus 13: 19) but that he assisted.

Ta'amei Mitzvot was a popular work, reprinted several times, and the subject of a com­mentary by R. Zevi of Rimenov. R. Jacob Horowitz, brother of R. Isaiah Horowitz (Shelah), praises Ta'amei Mitzvot and quotes from it frequently. R. Menahem wrote a more extensive work on the reasons for the commandments, Ta'amei Mitzvot ha-Arukhot, but it is no longer extant. Ta'amei Mitnot has been confused by some publishers with the Ta'amei ha-Muzoot of R. Menahem Recanati.


Hebrew Description

עם הגהות... על תרי"ג מצות... מנחה שלוחה... מארץ צבי... המחבר החכם... מנחם בכמ"ר משה הבבלי (החברוני... המסתופף בצל ישיני חברון) ז"ל...



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000148443; Marvin Heller, 16th Century Hebrew Book pp 610-11