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Lot 85: (CHASSIDISM) ELIMELECH OF LIZHENSK.
Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts & Autograph Letters
May 2, 2013
New York, NY, USA
No'am Elimelech [Chassidic homilies on the Pentateuch]. With "Likutei Shoshanah" and "Igereth HaKodesh" Third Complete Edition ff. 150 (i.e. 149). Previous owner's marks, light stains in places, older tape repair to f. 44, small abrasion to one word on f. 146v and to two words on last leaf, final four leaves rehinged. Sm. 4to. Vinograd, Slavuta 14; Y. Rafael, Entziklopedia LaChassiduth, Vol. I, cols. 283-4, no. 15c.
• Complete Early Edition of Chassidic Classic: The No'am Elimelech.
First printed in Lemberg in 1788, this classic text of Polish Chassidism went through several editions within a relatively short span of time: two Lemberg editions in the same year (1788), Shklov 1790, and our own Slavuta 1794. This would make our edition the fourth. However, one must take into account that one of the Lemberg editions was restricted to the section of the work known as "Likutei Shoshanah," (see Vinograd, Lemberg 38), thus making ours the third complete edition.
There is some discussion among bibliographers as to which press in Slavuta the book was printed, although actually, as pointed out by Chaim Liberman, there should be no discussion. The Haskamah of the Rabbi of Slavuta, R. Jacob Samson of Shepetevka, is quite explicit that the printer is his "mechutan" (relation by marriage), R. Moses son of R. Pinchas [of Koretz], i.e. Moshe Shapiro. Liberman speculates that though the book was issued under the authority of Duke Sangoska, failure to receive permission from the Tsarist government necessitated the printer's reticence as to revealing his identity. (Only in books issued after the year 1808 do we find on the title full disclosure of the printer's name "Moshe Shapiro.") See Ch. Liberman, Ohel Rache"l, Vol. I (1980), pp. 199-200; Ch. B. Friedberg, Toldoth ha-Defuss ha-Ivri be-Polanya, s.v. Slavuta.
Published by the author's nephew, Israel Abraham son of Meshulam Zussman (Zushye) of Annapoli, the book bears the latter's endorsement. Indeed, according to Chassidic tradition, it was R. Zushye who first introduced his brother R. Elimelech to R. Dov Baer, Maggid of Mezritch, the successor to the Baal Shem Tov. See Tz. M. Rabinowicz, The Encyclopedia of Hasidim (1996) pp. 111, 563.
Of historical interest are the two letters appended to the work (ff. 146v-150v). The first, penned by R. Elazar at the behest of his father R. Elimelech of Lizhensk, discusses the controversy surrounding the Rabbi of Zhelichov (i.e. Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berditchev); the second by R. Zechariah Mendel (nephew of R. Shmelke of Nikolsburg) is a letter of self-defense (R. Zechariah Mendel had been criticized for his ascetic practices). See Entziklopedia la-Chassiduth, Vol. I, col. 282.
R. Elimelech of Lizhensk (1717-87) founded the Polish school of Chassidism. His disciples included R. Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apta, R. Jacob Isaac Horowitz - the "Seer of Lublin," R. Israel of Kozhnitz and R. Mendel of Rymanov. R. Elimelech is credited with founding the doctrine of Tzaddikism: raising the Chassidic Master to a place of centrality in Jewish life. See Y. Alfasi, Ha-Chassiduth (1977) p. 25; EJ, Vol. VI, cols. 661-63.
Slavuta, (Moshe Shapiro), 1794.