Yonat Elem; Berit Menuhah, R. Menahem Azariah of Fano, Amsterdam 1648 (50242)

מאמר יונת אלם; ברית מנוחה - First Edition - Kabbalah

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 50242
Title (English): Yonat Elem; Berit Menuhah
Title (Hebrew): מאמר יונת אלם; ברית מנוחה
Note: First Edition - Kabbalah
Author: R. Menahem Azariah of Fano; R. Abraham ben Isaac of Granada
City: Amsterdam
Publisher: דפוס יהודה בן מרדכי ושמואל בן משה הלוי
Publication Date: 1648
Estimated Price: $1,000.00 USD - $2,000.00 USD
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Description

Physical Description

First editions. 38; 40 ff., quarto, 193:147 mm., wide margins, usual light age and damp staining. Very good copies bound in contemporary full vellum

 

Detail Description

Yonat Elem, a sermon from his epic in Kabbalah, Asarah Ma'amarot by R. Menahem Azariah of Fano (1548–1620), Italian rabbi and kabbalist. The scion of a wealthy family and a prolific author, he was a recognized authority on rabbinic law and the foremost exponent in the West of the kabbalistic system of R. Moses Cordovero. Under the influence of R. Israel Sarug, who during his stay in Italy spread the knowledge of the mystical system of R. Isaac Luria, R. Menahem Azariah became an admirer of the latter, though without departing from the system of R. Moses Cordovero. A pupil of R. Ishmael Hanina of Valmontone in Ferrara, he was active in Ferrara, Venice, Reggio, and Mantua. Together with his brothers he aided the victims of the earthquake of 1570. He was a patron of Jewish learning, contributing funds for the publication of such works as R. Cordovero's Pardes Rimmonim (Salonika, 1584) and R. Joseph Caro's commentary Kesef Mishneh (Venice, 1574–76) on Maimonides' Code.<p>Fano's fame as a talmudist is borne out by the collection of 130 responsa bearing his name which was published in 1600 in Venice and in 1788 in Dyhernfurth. His style of writing was precise and he displayed considerable originality in the views he expressed. He enjoyed great popularity as a teacher, attracting students from far and wide, from Germany as well as Italy. One of his disciples compared him to an angel of G-d in appearance. His gentleness and humility showed themselves in his refusal to answer adverse criticism leveled against him by a contemporary scholar on account of certain statements he made with regard to the ritual of the lulav on the festival of Tabernacles. Amadeo Recanati dedicated to him his Italian translation of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed; R. Isaiah Horowitz praised his theological treatise Yonat Elem (Amsterdam, 1648) saying of it, "the overwhelming majority of his words, and perhaps all of them, are true, and his Torah is true" (introduction to Novelot Hokhmah (Basle, 1631) by R. Joseph Delmedigo).

Seventeen of his works have been published. These include a summary of the legal decisions of R. Isaac Alfasi and his own major work on the Kabbalah, entitled Asarah Ma'amarot (only parts have been printed, Venice, 1597); Kanfei Yonah (Korzec, 1786), a kabbalistic work on prayer; and Gilgulei Neshamot (Prague, 1688) on the transmigration of the soul. Many of his kabbalistic interpretations must have been made for the first time in the course of sermons delivered by him. Extant in manuscript are liturgical poems, elegies, comments on the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, and a voluminous correspondence. He passed on in Mantua.

Berit Menuhah (The Covenant of Rest) - Kabbalistic work attributed to R. Abraham ben Isaac (from Rimon) of Granada. Almost nothing is known of Abraham, but it has been suggested that he was a contemporary of R. Solomon ibn Adret (Rashba, c. 1235-c. 1310). The title page states that it is Berit Menuhah (Covenant of Rest),

The sage will rejoice and one of understanding will be glad when he sees this book that is entirely holy of holies he will say of it. Come see who it is that testifies on it, a great man, a man of God, the awesome and holy R. Isaac Luria (ha-Ari), for this is the language of the Sefer ha-Kavvanot, concerning books of Kabbalah. He said that the one who created the book Berit Menuhah was a great sage. The name of the author is not mentioned besides what I have found, seen in the book Limudei Azilut that the author was R. Abraham of Rimon ha-Sephardi and ... that all his words are holy ....

There is an introduction (2a-4a) and the text in two columns in rabbinic letters. The final two pages have kab­balistic diagrams. Berit Menuhah represents a particu­larly esoteric and contemplative form of Kabbalah, one rarely found in printed books. It deals with the vocaliza­tion of the Tetragammaton (divine name) in twenty-six ways (equal to the numerical value of the divine name). Ten only are printed in Berit Menuhah. Scholem, who believes that Berit Menuhah is incorrectly attributed to Abraham, describes it as dealing with "meditations on the inner lights sparkling from the various vocalizations of the Tetragammaton," This is emphasized by Abraham in his introduction, where he writes that the letters of the divine name, with their crowns and vowel points, are the source of all creation. The mysteries of this were passed down from Adam through Rabbi Akiva and other sages to R. Simeon bar Yohai, it having been concealed since, its allusions made known only to a select few.

The hope for a speedy redemption-afflictions and persecutions being the birth pangs of the Messiah= is expressed in Berit Menuhah. He cautions against despair, for darkness is greatest 'ust before the dawn. The more grievous the exile, the greater the injustice, the clearer that the redemption is coming closer.

In the introduction to his commentary on Sefer Yezirah, R. Moses Botarel gives a long quotation from Sefer ha-Berit written by a scholar called R. Abraham b. Isaac of Granada. But both language and contents prove that this book was not written by the author of Berit Menuhah, which was without doubt composed in Spain during the 14th century. It explains the innermost meaning of the vocalization of G-d's name in 26 different ways. However, only the first ten ways were printed, and this only in a very corrupt form (Amsterdam, 1648): R. H.J.D. Azulai saw more than twice this number in a manuscript. The actual content of this work is very enigmatic as, in many respects, its symbolism and mysticism do not correspond with the conventional Kabbalah. The influence of R. Abraham Abulafia's Kabbalah is recognizable but the language-and-letter-mysticism of R. Abulafia is combined with a complicated light-mysticism. Moreover, the book's aim was to provide a systematic basis for the so-called Practical Kabbalah. The few clear passages reveal the author as a profound thinker and visionary. In eight places, he quotes his own thought process as the words of “the learned Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai,” mostly in Aramaic. But these quotations are not to be found in the Zohar, and in view of their style and contents do not belong there. The work was highly regarded by later kabbalists, especially by R. Moses Cordovero and R. Isaac Luria, who read their own thinking into R. Abraham's symbolism. R. Cordovero wrote a lengthy commentary on part of the book. R. Abraham quotes two more of his own works, Megalleh ha-Ta'alumot (“Revealing Hidden Things”) and Sefer ha-Gevurah (“The Book of Power”), on the names of G-d and Practical Kabbalah.

 

Hebrew Descridpion

 מאמר יונת אלם  ... אשר... לא נדפס עד היום הזה והוא אחד מעשרה מאמרות שחבר... ר’ מ"ע [מנחם עזריה מפאנו] זצלה"ה...

מעבר לשער: "הקדמה לידיעת החכמה מה בין חסד לרחמים... הקדמה בעניין הטהירו... הקדמה בעניין א"ס [אין סוף] מהרמ"ע ז"ל... הקדמות הללו מצאתים במקום אחר ונראה שהם שייכים להספר על כן הדפסתים בכאן".

.ברית מנוחה..הספר הזה הכולו[!] קודש הקדשים יאמר לו. תא חזי מאן קא מסהיד עלוהי ... כמוהר"ר יצחק לוריא זצ"ל. כי זהו לשון ספר הכוונות. בענין ספרי הקבלה היה אומר כי מי שעשה ספר ברית מנוחה היה חכם גדול ונאמן עכ"ל. ולא נזכר שם מחברו לבד זה מצאתי ראיתי בתוך ספר לימודי אצילות שכתב וז"ל לזה כיון ר’ אברהם מרימון הספרדי בספר ברית מנוחה שלו ... כי כל דבריו הם דברי רוח הקודש עכ"ל.

 

Reference:

Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000148552; 000106827; EJ, The 17th Century Hebrew Book, Marvin Heller, pp 658-9; 642-3