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Lot 46: Leaf Handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital - Segulot and Cures for Various Ailments and Practical Kabbalah of Amulet Inscriptions, Incantations and Ktav Malachim

Auction 53 - Rare and Important Items

by Kedem Public Auction House Ltd

November 15, 2016

Jerusalem, Israel

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  • Leaf Handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital - Segulot and Cures for Various Ailments and Practical Kabbalah of Amulet Inscriptions, Incantations and Ktav Malachim
  • Leaf Handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital - Segulot and Cures for Various Ailments and Practical Kabbalah of Amulet Inscriptions, Incantations and Ktav Malachim
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Description: Manuscript, segulot and cures, amulet inscriptions and incantations (practical kabbalah), handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital. [Late 16th-early 17th century]. Leaf written on both sides, two columns per page. Approximately 200 lines handwritten by Rabbi Chaim Vital. Part of a composition of segulot and cures. On the leaf are many inscriptions of segulot and cures for various ailments (such as "bleeding from a wound", "stopping a nose bleed", "for diphtheria”, and more). R. Chaim Vital also writes amulets and incantations, for example, "To stop bleeding - with the blood from his nose write on his forehead Aleph, Gimmel, Lamed and Aleph and it will stop". On this leaf is an amulet-illustration of Ktav Malachim ["angelic script" – a set of symbols used for amulets. Some are copied from the book Yere'im by Rabbi Elazar of Metz, Hilchot Mezuza Siman 400. He writes that these symbols are written on mezuzot for "additional protection for the home". See Mishne Torah L'HaRambam, Hilchot Mezuzah, Chapter 5, Halacha 4, and "Ma'adanei Yom Tov" on Hilchot Mezuzah]. The kabbalist Rabbi Chaim Vital, the Ari's prominent disciple, chosen by the Arizal to copy his teachings, was born in 1543 in Safed which at that time was a spiritual center and drew leading Torah scholars and G-d fearing people led by Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch. In those illustrious days, the Ramak, Rabbi Shlomo Elkabetz (composer of Lecha Dodi), the Mabit, R. Moshe Alshich were among the Torah giants who resided in Safed. The Maharchu was the disciple of Maharam Alshich in 1557 (at the age of 14) and writes that that same year "R. Yosef Karo instructed my teacher R. Moshe Alshich in the name of an angel that he should be very careful to teach me with all his might". Maharam Alshich also ordained R. Chaim with the authority of the semicha he himself received from R. Yosef Karo. Simultaneously, R. Chaim Vital began studying kabbalah in the Beit Midrash of R. Moshe Cordovero (the Ramak). In 1570, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Ari HaKadosh moved from Egypt to Eretz Israel and settled in Safed. That year, the Ramak died and the Ari succeeded him. The light of the Ari rose in Safed and R. Chaim Vital became his closest disciple and the first authority on the Arizal's kabbalistic teachings. For two years, the Maharchu sat before the Ari and wrote every word which came out of his teacher's mouth. The writings of the Maharchu are the basis of the Ari's teachings which were spread in later generations. The Chida writes (Shem HaGedolim) that Rabbi Chaim Vital did not permit anyone to copy these writings but once he was very ill and the kabbalists bribed his household members to give them 600 leaves of the Maharchu's writings and these were copied in three days by 100 scribes. After the Ari's death, the Maharchu moved to Egypt. He then returned to Eretz Israel and resided some time in Jerusalem until he moved to Damascus and died there in 1620. He wrote the primary teachings of the Ari in his composition Etz Chaim and in Shemonah Perakim which his son Shmuel Vital arranged following his instructions. Although, the Ari authorized only the Maharchua to write and explain his teachings, compositions on his teachings exist which were written by other disciples as well. The leading kabbalists of following generations constantly stressed that the Maharchu is the supreme authority for explaining the Ari's teachings and they warned not to rely on the writings of any other disciple. The Maharchu himself writes in the introduction to his book Etz Chaim: "Know that from the day my teacher began to reveal this wisdom, I did not leave him even for a moment. All you find written in any writings in his name which differs from that which I have written in this book is a definite error because they did not comprehend his words…". The Maharchu endeavored to limit spreading the Ari's teaching and instructed to bury many of his writings of the Ari's teachings in his grave. Only after his death, his writings gained fame in various ways and editions. The scholars of his times performed a "she'elat chalom" and were allowed to remove many leaves from the Maharchu's grave and these served as a basis for other compositions on the Ari's teachings (for more information on this subject, see Kabbalat Ha'Ari by R. Yosef Avivi). Among the books he wrote of the Ari's teachings the following books are best known: Etz Chaim, Shemonah She'arim, Otzrot Chaim, Adam Yashar, Derech Etz Chaim, Pri Etz Chaim, Sha'arei Kedusha, etc. This book of cures by the Maharchu is known by several titles: Sefer HaPe'ulot, Ta'alumot Chochma, Sefer Kabbalah Ma'asit, Sefer HaRefu'ot, Refu'ot U'Segulot. This composition was not printed together with the rest of his writings. Only few sections were printed in books of segulot and cures throughout the years. Recently, it has been printed in full (Sefer HaPe'ulot, Modi'in Illit, 2010). The Chida wrote of the greatness and holiness of R. Chaim Vital that "his soul was very great and cleaner than that of all other people in his times". It is known that he foresaw many events with his ru'ach hakodesh. His amazing visions he documented in his diary which was partially printed under the name, Shivchei R' Chaim Vital and recently has been fully printed in the book Sefer HaChezyonot. Leaf, 19.5 cm. 2 fully written pages. Very good condition. Bound in a new elaborate leather binding.

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