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Reshit Hokhmah, R. Elijah b. Moshe de Vidas, Constantinople 1736

ראשית חכמה - Kabbalah

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  • Lot Number 52878
  • Title (English) Reshit Hokhmah
  • Title (Hebrew) ראשית חכמה
  • Note Kabbalah
  • Author R. Elijah b. Moshe de Vidas
  • City Constantinople
  • Publisher דפוס יונה בן יעקב
  • Publication Date 1736
  • Estimated Price - Low 300
  • Estimated Price - High 600

  • Item # 2264253
  • End Date
  • Start Date

Physical Description

[1], 304, [20] ff., quarto, 204:148 mm., wide margins, damp and age staining. A good copy bound in modern cloth over boards, rubbed. Title with the printer's emblem of Nataniel Puah.


Detail Description

Ethical and moral work by R. Elijah b. Moshe de Vidas (16th century), kabbalist, author on morals, one of the great kabbalists of Safed. R. Vidas was a disciple and close friend of R. Moses Cordovero, whom he always called "my teacher" without mentioning his name. In 1575 he completed his major work Reshit Hokhmah, one of the outstanding books on morals in Judaism. In contrast with previous authors in this field, Vidas included kabbalistic theories in his work, which was aimed at a popular audience; in particular, he quoted at length all that is said in the Zohar on the question of morals and religious conduct. Quotations from the Zohar were annotated from manuscripts still found in Safed. The book is encyclopedic in character and is divided into five long chapters, "Fear," "Love," "Repentance," "Holiness," and "Humility." Vidas added five chapters from Israel Al-nakawa's Menorat ha-Ma'or which was then known only in manuscript. They include chapters on the mitzvot, on education, on business dealings in good faith, and on manners. At the end of these, he added Huppot Eliyahu Rabbah, a collection of rabbinical sayings which list qualities (e.g., "three good qualities..."), and Or Olam, moralizing sayings which open with the word "forever" or with the word "great"; for example, "great is charity, even more than sacrifices."

R. Vidas' book is written in an easy and engaging style, avoiding metaphors. It was immediately accepted as one of the most important books on morals and was printed some 40 times. The first edition was printed in Venice in 1579 during the author's lifetime. The date of R. Vidas' death is still unknown. Because of its great length, his book was summarized several times: Reshit Hokhmah Kazar (Venice, 1600), completed in 1580 in Asti, Italy, by R. Jacob b. Mordecai Poggetti; Tappuhei Zahav, by R. Jehiel Melli (Mantua, 1623); Toze'ot Hayyim (Cracow, before 1650) by R. Jacob Luzzatto, a preacher in Poznan. These three summaries were published many times.


Hebrew Description

... ונתוסף בו ספר חי בן מקיץ והוא מוסר הנפש דרך חידה לר' שלמה בן גבירול זצ"ל: הביאו על מזבח הדפוס ... הרופא ... ר' יוסף פואה יצ"ו ...

דף שג-[1, א]: ספר המוסר דרך חידה ... והבעל שפתי ישנים [ר' שבתי בס] יחסו למהר"א [ר' אברהם] ן' עזרא ז"ל. בסופו: שיר לר' שבתי רבנא על ספר חי בן מקיץ. פותח: קחה ספר לנסות בא בחידה. אוצר השירה והפיוט, ג, עמ' 342, מס' 299; ד, עמ' 337,
מס' 299.
ספר חי בן מקיץ נדפס לראשונה בתוך ספר צל העולם, אמשטרדם תצ"ג.
על-פי אמשטרדם תס"ח, עם דגל המדפיס (נתנאל פואה) בשער.
המפתחות שנדפסו בהוצאות הקודמות בסוף הספר נשמטו.

עם הסכמת ר' אברהם פרווינצאל מן ההוצאה הראשונה והסכמת רבני קושטאנדינא:
ר' אברהם ב"ר יוסף רוזאניש, ר' יצחק בכ"ר דוד ור' חיים קמחי , טבת תצ"ו.



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #00 0130502