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Raza de-Yihuda, Nehemiah Hiyya Hayone, Venice 1711

רזא דיחודא - Shabbatean - Facsimile

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  • Lot Number 53921
  • Title (English) Raza de-Yihuda
  • Title (Hebrew) רזא דיחודא
  • Note Only Edition - Shabbatean
  • Author Nehemiah Hiyya Hayon
  • City Venice (New York)
  • Publication Date 1711 (20th century)
  • Estimated Price - Low 50
  • Estimated Price - High 100

  • Item # 2490143
  • End Date
  • Start Date

Physical Description

Facsimile of first and only edition. 48 ff., on bound paper, bound in cloth over boards,

Most copies of this little book were destroyed or perished.


Detail Description

Raza de-Yihuda on the meaning of the verse on the unity of G-d, Shema Yisrael by Nehemiah Hiyya b. Moses Hayon (c. 1655–c. 1730), kabbalist with Shabbatean tendencies. Because of the bitter dispute which centered around Hayon, the information about his life is full of contradictions and must be sifted critically. His ancestors came from Sarajevo, Bosnia. From there, his father moved to Erez Israel after spending several years in Egypt where, according to his own testimony, Hayon was born. As a child, he was taken to Jerusalem, grew up in Shechem (Nablus) and in Jerusalem, and studied under R. Hayyim Abulafia. At the age of 18 he returned to Sarajevo with his father and married there. His enemies claimed that from that time on he was known for his adventures. He traveled widely throughout the Balkans and spent several years in Belgrade until its occupation by Austria in 1688. He may have joined his father as an emissary to Italy for the ransoming of captives from Belgrade. According to the testimony of Judah Brieli, Hayon was in Leghorn in 1691. Later he served for a short time in the rabbinate of Skoplje, Macedonia, at the recommendation of one of the great rabbis of Salonika.

According to the testimony of R. Joseph Ergas, in Leghorn, Hayon disclosed to him his belief in Shabbetai Zevi. In 1711, in Venice, he published his small book Raza de-Yihuda on the meaning of the verse on the unity of G-d, Shema Yisrael, as an abridgment of his larger work to which he added, in the meantime, a second commentary. The rabbis of Venice gave approbations to this booklet without understanding its intent. The book did not arouse controversy. Later, Hayon moved to Prague where he was received with great honor in scholarly circles and gained approval for Oz le-Elohim, his main work, and Divrei Nehemyah, a book of sermons. David Oppenheim approbated Divrei Nehemyah and Hayon altered the approbation to include the kabbalistic Oz le-Elohim as well. R. Naphtali Cohen, who at first befriended Hayon, kept him at a distance after a rumor got about that connected him with the Doenmeh in Salonika. Hayon traveled via Moravia and Silesia to Berlin where, in 1713, supported by the wealthy members of the community, he succeeded in publishing Oz le-Elohim. It was daring of Hayon to publish a text which in many manuscripts was circulated then as a work of Shabbetai Zevi. With great acumen, he tried to prove in his two commentaries that this doctrine was firmly based in the classical texts of the Kabbalah.

In June 1713 Hayon left Berlin for Amsterdam. Apparently he knew of the hidden Shabbatean tendency of R. Solomon Ayllon, rabbi of the Sephardi congregation. Indeed, Hayon received the patronage of Ayllon, his bet din, and the parnasim of the community. However, a bitter and complex struggle developed between the supporters of Hayon and those of R. Zevi Ashkenazi, the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community, and of R. Moses Hagiz who knew of Hayon's early quarrels in Erez Israel and recognized the Shabbatean "heresy" in his opinions, when they investigated his book. In this controversy, relevant factors (the true views of Hayon and his Shabbateanism) and personal factors (the arrogant behavior of R. Zevi Ashkenazi, personal antagonisms) are mingled. Essentially, the accusers of Hayon were right but from a formal and procedural point of view the Sephardi bet din was right. The quarrel aroused strong emotions, at first in Amsterdam, in the summer and the winter of 1713, and it swiftly spread to other countries. R. Naphtali Cohen apologized for his previous approval of Hayon and excommunicated him. So did Italian rabbis to whom both sides turned to for support. The leaders were R. Judah Brieli of Mantua and R. Samson Morpurgo of Ancona. Most of the participants in the controversy had not actually seen the books of Hayon and depended only on the letters from both sides.

R. Zevi Ashkenazi and R. Moses Hagiz were forced to leave Amsterdam. However, the intervention of the rabbis of Smyrna and Constantinople, who excommunicated Hayon and condemned his works in 1714, decided the struggle against Hayon, whose supporters advised him to return to Turkey in order to obtain the annulment of the excommunication. Hayon returned and attempted to achieve this but he succeeded only partially. In his old age, he went back to Europe where in the pamphlet Ha-Kolot Yehdalun (1725) he published some documents in his favor. His journey was unsuccessful because R. Moses Hagiz again came out against him in the booklet Lehishat Saraf (Hanau, 1726) where he threw suspicion on several of the documents, or on the circumstances under which they were signed. Most of the communities did not allow him access and even Ayllon refused to receive him in Amsterdam. Hayon wandered to North Africa and apparently died there before 1730. According to Hagiz, his son converted to Catholicism in order to take revenge on his father's persecutors and was active in Italy.


Hebrew Description

... להודיע ליחד שם נורא... פעמי' ביום בעת קריא[ת] שמ[ע] (ואחריו... כונות ברכות הנהנין וברכות דצלותא וכונת עניית ברוך הוא וברוך שמו)... והקרוב אליו כתר עליון ... ובו כלול... כל חכמת האמת... יסדו הכינו... ר' נחמיה חייא חייון נר"ו (מתושבי עיר הקד' גליל העליון צפת)... והוגה בעין טוב של... ר' יהודה בכמ"ר יוסף פרץ...

דף ל-מח: כתר עליון. דף מח: פיוט נאה לאומרו אחר קריאת האדרא רבא והזוהר סימן לחייא חייון. פותח: לא באלהא מרגליתא בפום דכל בר חי. אוצר השירה והפיוט, ג, עמ' 2, מס' 20.

נגד הספר יצא ר' דוד ניטו בספרו אש דת, לונדריש תע"ה. מקצת מתשובותיו של חאיון פרסם ישראל א. הרלינג, הערות נחמיה חייא חיון בכתב ידו לספר אש דת לר' דוד ניטו, קרית ספר, טו, תרצ"ח תרצ"ט, עמ' 135-130.

הסכמה: רבני ויניציאה: ר' שלמה ב"ר ישעיה ניצה, ר' דוד ב"ר שלמה אלטאראס ור' רפאל ב"ר שלמה די שילוה, ט טבת תע"א.



Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #001077890; EJ