Ez Avot, R. Jacob Emden (Ya'vez), Altona 1751 (50237)

עץ אבות - First Edition - Kabbalah

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 50237
Title (English): Ez Avot
Title (Hebrew): עץ אבות
Note: Kabbalah - Liturgy - Unrecorded
Author: R. Jacob Emden (Ya'vez)
City: Amsterdam [i.e. Altona]
Publisher: House of Author
Publication Date: 1751
Estimated Price: $3,000.00 USD - $6,000.00 USD
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Description

Physical Description

First edition. 82 ff. quarto 179:154 mm., usual light age staining, nice margins. A very good copy bound in contemporary brown half calf and marble paper over wood boards, rubbed and frayed. Dedication plate on inside cover.

 

Detail Description

Three commentaries on Pirkei Avot with text. The title page notes that it is a tree of life, the taste of its bark and fruit being equal, both of praiseworthy taste. The commentaries include the well known explanations of R. Obadiah Bertinoro (c. 1450–before 1516) and important two part commentary of R. Jacob Emden (Yavez, 1697-1776).

R. Bertinoro's fame rests on his commentary on the Mishnah which was completed in Jerusalem and published in Venice (1548–49). It has become the standard commentary on the Mishnah as is Rashi's on the Talmud. This commentary was published with the text in almost every edition of the Mishnah. Written in an easy, lucid style, it draws largely on Rashi, often quoting him literally, and on Maimonides, whose rulings he cites. For the sections of Mishnah which have no Talmud he drew on the commentary of R. Samson b. Abraham of Sens and of R. Asher b. Jehiel. Tosefot Yom Tov, by R. Yom Tov Lipmann Heller was so named because its purpose was to serve as an addition (tosefet) and exposition, supplement and work of source reference to the Mishnah commentary of Obadiah of Bertinoro. In it are traced the sources of the Bertinoro commentary, explained obscurities, examined and also criticized its conclusions in the sphere of halakhah, and made linguistic comments. In it R. Heller explained the words grammatically, noted the halakhah on the basis of the Talmud and the rishonim and aharonim and took care to establish accurate readings, most of which he added to the second edition of his commentary, through clarification and elucidation of the text on the basis of various manuscripts and earlier published works. Heller endeavored to reconcile the contradictions between one Mishnah and another by means of straightforward and logical rationalization. All his comments are formulated with the utmost simplicity—and here he follows in the footsteps of his teacher R. Judah Loew b. Bezalel, who opposed the method of pilpul. Despite his positive attitude to Kabbalah, he refrained from relying upon it in deciding the halakhah, since "in explaining the Talmud, we have no dealings at all with esoteric matters" (Ma'adanei Yom Tov; Ber. 1). In his opinion the Mishnah might be interpreted differently from the explanation given in the Talmud, "providing no decisions which contradict the view of the authors of the Gemara are given" (Tosefot Yom Tov to Naz. 5:5). In his introduction he formulated his attitude to the commentary of Bertinoro: "My task, however, is to examine carefully in the Mishnah in order to see whether anything requires explanation that has not been explained in the commentary of the Rav [Bertinoro], or whether there is a contradiction from some other Mishnah to which he has not drawn attention, and also whether there is anything in his commentary for which an explanation and reason has to be given, as well as if there be any contradiction in the commentary itself, and more so from the Mishnah."

R. Jacob Emden (pen name Yavez; derived from Ya'akov Ben Zevi; 1697–1776), rabbi, halakhic authority, kabbalist, and anti-Shabbatean polemicist. Emden was regarded as one of the outstanding scholars of his generation. Emden's teacher was his father R. Zevi Hirsch Ashkenazi (Hakham Zevi). He inherited his father's interest in secular studies, his dissociation from the Ashkenazi method of study (pilpul) and customs, his stormy, independent, and uncompromising character, and his devotion to the campaign against the Shabbateans and their sympathizers. In addition, he possessed a fine literary talent, a critical tendency and a knowledge unusual for his age of general non-halakhic Jewish literature. He was also familiar with sciences and languages (German, Dutch, Latin). Despite his distinguished descent and his remarkable talmudic attainments, R. Emden occupied no official position, with the exception of a few years as rabbi of Emden (1728–1733). This made it possible for him to be exceptionally critical toward the society and the tradition of his time. He was more on guard about anything that he considered hillul ha-Shem (bringing the name of the Jew into disrepute) than for the good name of the rabbinate and of the community. He made extensive use of the private printing press he founded in Altona to disseminate his views. As a result, because of his views on a number of issues, both personal and communal, he became a figure widely respected, feared, and contentious.

His historical importance includes his campaigns against the Shabbateans to which he dedicated many years. He relentlessly examined and investigated every suspicious phenomenon pertaining to the sect. He called upon the contemporary rabbis to publish excommunications and mercilessly attacked anyone suspected of supporting or showing sympathy to the Shabbateans. The Shabbateans were accustomed to introduce hints of their secret doctrine into their literary works, particularly in the field of Kabbalah. Consequently, R. Emden became an expert in uncovering such allusions and hidden meanings, and developed an extraordinarily sharp critical faculty by which he could recognize any suggestion of the Shabbatean heresy. Many books in which no one saw anything to which objection could be taken, were condemned by him as heretical. Though at times he was at fault and suspected the innocent without cause, his judgment in general was sound.

         

Hebrew Description    

... [ביאורים] למסכת אבות [עם הפנים, מנוקד] ... שלשה המה ... פי’ הר"ב ברטנורא, (פירוש) תי"ט [תוספת יום טוב],. ולחם שמים, (פירוש ... לפי הצריך להבנת כוונת לשון המשנה) ... והרביעי ... לחם נקודים (פירוש המלות וקריאתם מוצאם ושרשם ונקודתם) ... לאוקמא אגירסא... (המחבר... יעבץ ... יעקב [עמדן] ... בן ... צבי).

בשער: ותהי התחלתו בסדר ובשנת כ’ע’ת’ א’י’מר ל’י’עקב ולישראל מה פעל אל [תקי"א]. הסכמה: תקי"ב. בספרו לוח ארש, חלק א, אלטונא תקכ"ט (דף עז,א) מזכיר המחבר את עץ אבות "שכבר יצא לאור הדפוס בשנת תקי"ב".

דף ב: הקדמת המחבר בעל לחם שמים ולחם נקודים. בתוכה משולבת "ההצעה" לספרו משנה לחם, "שלא בא בדפוס עדיין". לאחר מכן, כשנספח לספרו לחם שמים (על ששה סדרי משנה), חלק ב, [אלטונא] תקכ"ח, ציין המחבר: "שארית הפתיחה נדפס בהקדמה לעץ אבות".

דף ס,ב-עה: פרק קנין תורה. עם לחם שמים ולחם נקודים.

דף עה,ב-פב: "ספר לוח ארש חלק שני ותקוני לחם נקודים". ב"הצעה לספר לוח ארש" אומר המחבר: "אחר מעשה הדפוס הלז ראיתי שנשמטו ממני דברים ... יידע הקורא כל אשר איננו נקוד כראוי גנוב הוא אתי מבית תפלתו של רז"ה [בית תפילה לר’ שלמה זלמן הענא, יעסניץ תפ"ה], בסמכי עליו, ולא חשתי לדקדק אחריו ... בעת הדפסת ספרי זה, ואתן ס’ תפלה שלו ביד הפועל מסדר האותיות שיסדר לשון המשנה מתוכו ... אמנם אחרי שובי נחמתי ... נפקחו עיני ... והרגשתי בו טעיות הרבה ... וקבלתי עלי עול זה מחדש ולבור שנית על נוסח המשנה שהעמיד לפנינו ... לנקות אותי לפני כל יודעי דת הדקדוק ... המה יוכיחו בין שנינו ... אציגה פה החלק מחבור לוח ארש הנוגע לזאת המסכתא".

חלק א של לוח ארש (הכולל גם "איזה תיקונים והשמטות" לחלק ב) נדפס אחר כך על-ידי המחבר, אלטונא תקכ"ט.

בתוך פירושו לחם שמים שילב המחבר הוספות רבות שנדפסו באותיות קטנטנות.

"ההשמטות וההגהות ומהדורא ... בשם משנה לחם" לספרנו הדפיס המחבר אחר כך בתוך ספרו לחם שמים (על המשניות), חלק ב, דף מז,ב-נא,א.

 

References

BE ayin 1000; EJ; Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000179220; Roest p. 826 & #1564; St.C.B. 5527.7; Vinograd 51