Auction 134 Special Sale no Incunables, Chassidut, Belongings of Tzaddikim, Amulets, Segula Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical letters, Chabad and Rare books
By Winner'S
Feb 1, 2022
3 Shatner Center 1st Floor Givat Shaul Jerusalem, Israel

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LOT 26:

Mitzpeh Yekatel by Rabbi Shaul Levine. Berlin, 1789. Sharp Polemic Book Banned by Altona Rabbis

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Mitzpeh Yekatel by Rabbi Shaul Levine. Berlin, 1789. Sharp Polemic Book Banned by Altona Rabbis


Mitzpeh Yekatel - critique of the book Torat Yekutiel by Rabbi Rephael HaKohen Katz, av beit din of Ah"u, authored by the rabbi, the dayan metzuyan Rabbi Ovadiah son of Rabbi Baruch - this is Rabbi Shaul Berlin, son of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Levine, av beit din of Berlin. Printed in Berlin at the maskilim's Chevrat Chanoch Ne'arim Press in 1789.

Rare book, magnificent edition. Rare reference to the Vilna Gaon.


The book deals with clarifying sources and rulings written in the book Torat Yekutiel printed in Berlin in 1872. However, its author arranged it in an extremely sharp polemic manner, which resulted in a major controversy. Several communities, led by Altona (where Rabbi Raphael served as av beit din), banned the book less than a month after it was published. There are scholars who write that most copies were burned and destroyed. At that same time, there were rumors and pashkevilim stating that the author's father, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch, was among those who banned it. His father issued an unusual statement about this - that even though he renounces the harsh style, there is no reason to dismiss tasteful words, and there is no reason to ban it. The Noda BiYehudah also sent a similar letter. Just a few years after this controversy, Rabbi Shaul published the renowned book Besamim Rosh which also caused a great controversy.


The printers suspected that printing this book might cause the press itself to be banned, (as several pashkevilim did indeed state), and they write in their foreword that they are sending the book to several rabbinic leaders of the generation, and anyone who has objections to the book should wait until they have made a decision about it. One of the people to whom the book was sent was "The famous pious gaon, Rabbi Elya of Vilna." This mention is not written by Vinograd in Otzar Sifrei HaGr"a (a different kuntress that discusses the same controversy is mentioned). According to Vinograd, until 1789, the Gr"a was mentioned less than 20 times in all of Torah literature!


Magnificent copy. Thick, high-quality leaves, beautiful margins. The flyleaves are made of original colored marbleized paper. Original leather binding with gilt imprints. The spine is slightly blemished. Very rare book - and in this condition - extraordinarily rare.


[6], 40 leaf. 19.5 cm. See an expanded discussion in the excellent article by Rabbi Yosef Vichelder, "Machloket L'Shem Shamayim?" HaMevaser HaTorani 17 Av, 2009 (photocopy included).

Fine condition. Minimal usage marks. Slightly rubbed binding. Partially blemished spine.


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