Keter Torah, R. David Vital, Constantinople 1536 (49807)

כתר תורה - First Edition

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 49807
Title (English): Keter Torah
Title (Hebrew): כתר תורה
Note: First Edition
Author: R. David ben Solomon Vital
City: Constantinople
Publisher: Eliezer ben Gershom Soncino
Publication Date: 1536
Estimated Price: $10,000.00 USD - $15,000.00 USD
Content/listingImages/20200724/00d57436-2c6e-48dd-9b26-92448ea2fc91_fullsize.jpg Content/listingImages/20200724/74f8fd25-2257-441b-8257-104e49d2e55b_fullsize.jpg


Physical Description

Only edition, quarto, [128] ff. 191:139 mm., usual light age staining, wide margins, title, ff [2-3, 126-125] extended to size, old hands. A good copy bound in modern quarter vellum and cloth over boards.


Detail Description

A summary, in verse, of the 613 commandments by R. David ben Solomon Vital (d. c. 1536). The author, among the Jewish exiles from Spain, was a student and son-in-law of R. David ha-Kohen (Maharadakh). In addition to his rabbinical responsibilities, Vital was likely also a physician, as he is referred to as ha-Rofe (the doctor). Vital resided in Patras, Greece, until his home was destroyed and his library lost during the Turco-Venetian war (1532), relocating afterwards to Arta. A respected scholar, Vital corresponded with lead­ing rabbis such as Jacob Tam ibn Yahya and Meir Katzenellenbogen, who mention Vital in laudatory terms in their responsa.

Vital calls his book Keter Torah because it summarizes the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, and the seven rabbinical commandments, "the sum of which is keter (620), the number of letters in the ten commandments, and on each and every letter is a versified word and for each word a mitzvah is explained according to the great ashel (tamarisk), the Rambam ז"ל."

Keter Torah is, then, a commentary on the Sifer ha-Mitzvot of Maimonides, the order of the mitroot following the order of that work, each entry beginning with and explaining entries in the Sefer ha-Mitzvot . In his exposition on the Sefer ha-Mitzvot , Vital quotes from a large number of halakhic authorities, often defending the Rambam from his critics. Indeed, Vital writes that he "did not turn to the right nor to the left of the great ashel." Mitzvot are not discussed equally, some being presented in a succinct manner, while others are addressed at length. Keter Torah is generally regarded as a kizzur (abridged) Sefer ha-Mitzvot.

The title page has the Soncino ornamental frame, much worn from usage, topped by a crown, alluding to the title (keter). Within the text are two diagrams, one of three hands, relating to the calendar, the other of a lung, relating to the dietary laws.

The book is completed with a poetic colophon from Solomon ben Mazzal Tov. Keter Torah is unpaginated, although there are signatures.

Vital's other works are Hilkhot Bedika u-Shehitah (Mantua, 1570) and Mikhtam le-David (Venice, 1546), a versification of Maimonides' thirteen articles of faith, to prove they are deduced from the Shema, followed by 1,000 supplicatory verses (words) beginning with the letter he.


Hebrew Description

... כל תרי"ג מצוות שבתורה וז’ מצוות דרבנן ... סך הכל כת"ר כמנין אותיות שבעשרת הדברים ועל כל אות ואות מהן בנויה תיבה א’ בחרוזים ... ועל כל תיבה מבוארת המצוה בדרך ... הרמב"ם ז"ל ויש בהקדמות יישוב קצת קשיות שהשיגו לרבנו ז"ל ובקצת מהמצוות יישוב לשונותיו הנראים כסותרים אלו את אלו או יוצאים מעקבות התלמוד ובכל מצוה ומצוה מבואר מי חייב בה ובאיזה מקום וזמן נוהגת ומקום מוצאה מהתלמוד ... חברתיהו ... דוד ויטל ...

בעמ’ האחרון מליצה של ר’ שלמה ב"ר מזל טוב.

עיין: י"ד מרקון, ר’ שלמה בן מזל טוב - ספר היובל לכבוד אלכסנדר מארכס , נוירק תש"י, חלק עברי, עמ’ שלז-שלח.



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000130670; Marvin Heller, 16th Century Hebrew Book pp 220-21