Responsa on Tur Even ha-Ezer, R. Hayyim Shabbetai (Maharhash), Salonica 1651 (50763)

שאלות ותשובות - First Edition - Agunah

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 50763
Title (English): Responsa on Tur Even ha-Ezer (Maharhash)
Title (Hebrew): שאלות ותשובות
Note: First Edition - Agunah
Author: R. Hayyim Shabbetai (Maharhash)
City: Salonica
Publisher: Abraham ha-Ger
Publication Date: 1651
Estimated Price: $300.00 USD - $600.00 USD
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Physical Description

First edition. [2], 220 (of 222) ff. folio 275:188 mm., nice margins, usual light age and damp staining, old hands, lacks final 2 ff of index. A good copy bound in contemporary leather over boards, rubbed.


Detail Description

Responsa on Tur Even ha-Ezer by R. Hayyim Shabbetai (Maharhash, 1557–1647). Among the great sages of Salonika, Shabbetai was a student of R. Aaron Sason, and, from 1603, his colleague on the bet din. Shabbetai was Rosh Yeshivah of the Shalom community, many of his students becoming distinguished rabbis and communal leaders. From 1607 he was chief rabbi of Salonika. His opinions, sought from both near and distant lands, include a query from South America, the first recorded from the New World. Shabbetai’s responsa number in the thousands, this volume being the first printed selection. Many of his pupils became leading authorities such as R. Solomon ha-Levi, R. Isaac Barki, Hasdai ha-Kohen Perahyah, and R. David Conforte. Maharhash served as chief rabbi. In point of fact, he had been referred to as "the great rabbi" as early as 1622. He devoted himself assiduously to congregational matters, introducing many important regulations, and was regarded as the outstanding halakhic authority of his time, questions being addressed to him from communities near and far.

The title page has an ornate frame. The text, which is very brief, dates completion of the work to the month of Adar התיא (5411 = February, - March 1651). There are approbations from the rabbis of Salonika, R. Abraham Motal, R. Menaham Shalom, R. Daniel Ishtrosa, R. Hayyim Abraham ha-Kohen, R. Jacob Abrham di Botan, R. Baruch Engil, and R. Samuel Gaon, followed by introductions from Shabbetai sons, Moses and Shabbetai. The text is in two columns in rabbinic type, excepting headers and initial words which are in square letters. This volume has sixty responsa and includes Kunteres ha-Agunot. Among Maharhash’s other works that have been published are additional responsa Torat Hayyim (Salonika, 1713-22) on the other parts of the Shulhan Arukh, as well as responsa included in the collections of other rabbis. A very small portion of Shabbetai’s novellae on the Talmud were published in his son Moses’ Torat Moshe (Salonika, 1797). Kunteres ha-Moda’ah re-ha-Ones, originally published in part II of Torat Hayyim, a basic work on the laws of contracts entered into under protest and duress, was published separately with commentaries (Lemberg, 1798). Other works remain unpublished.

The volume also contains R. Hayyim's classic dissertation on the rules of and conditions to release an Agunah. An agunah is a married woman who for whatsoever reason is separated from her husband and cannot remarry, either because she cannot obtain a divorce from him , or because it is unknown whether he is still alive. The term is also applied to a yevamah ("a levirate widow"; if she cannot obtain halizah from the levir or if it is unknown whether he is still alive (Git. 26b, 33a; Yev. 94a; and Posekim). The problem of the agunah is one of the most complex in halakhic discussions and is treated in great detail in halakhic literature (no less than six volumes of Oẓar ha-Posekim are devoted to it. The halakhah prescribes that a marriage can only be dissolved by divorce or the death of either spouse. According to Jewish law, divorce is effected not by decree of the court, but by the parties themselves, i.e., by the husband's delivery of a get ("bill of divorce") to his wife. Hence the absence of the husband or his willful refusal to deliver the get precludes any possibility of a divorce. Similarly the mere disappearance of the husband, where there is no proof of his death, is not sufficient for a declaration by the court to the effect that a wife is a widow and her marriage thus dissolved. In most cases of agunot the question is whether or not the husband is still alive. Such cases result, for instance, from uncertainty about the husband's fate caused by conditions of war.


Hebrew Description

השייכות לטור אבן העזר מהרב... חיים שבתי זצוק"ל ובראשם קונטריס מחבר מאסף כל דיני עיגונא דאיתתא...

בראש הספר הקדמות בני המחבר, ר' משה ור' שבתי. הסכמת רבני שאלוניקי: ר' אברהם מוטאל, ר' מנחם שולם, ר' דניאל אישטרושה, ר' חיים אברהם הכהן, ר' יעקב ב"ר אברהם די בוטון , ר' ברוך אנגיל ור' שמואלגאון, ג אדר תי"א.



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000168626; EJ; Goldwurm, Early Acharonim, p. 147; Heller, 17th Century;  Margalioth, Encyclopedia II, cols. 535-36