Lot 44: Ma'amar Mordechai - Dyhernfurth, 1719 - Copy of the Kabbalist Mula Or Shraga from Yazd, a Leading Persian Sage - With Hundreds of Glosses in his Handwriting and with his Signatures - Wide-Scope Hitherto Unprinted Composition - The Only Surviving Writings in his Own Handwriting
November 15, 2016
Jerusalem, IsraelLive Auction
Description: Ma'amar Mordechai, novellae and compositions on the Torah, with a commentary on the Passover Haggadah, by R. Mordechai son of R. Yehuda Leib Holish of Lvov. Dyhernfurth, . This copy belonged to the renowned kabbalist Mula Or Shraga, venerable Persian sage and leader. With more than 200 handwritten marginalia, most in his own handwriting, including more than 80 glosses with his signature "Or Shraga". Several leaves and endpapers have additional glosses by members of his family, his sons or grandsons. Most glosses are long, with original content of novellae, homilies and remazim, combination of Holy Names and kabblistic kavanot. Most glosses are not directly connected to the content in the book, but at times are generally related to topic of the weekly portion and sometimes have no connection whatsoever. Apparently, the Or Shraga used the margins of this book as a blank space for his writings and to preserve his novellae rendering this copy a complete manuscript of novellae by the Or Shraga. No other manuscripts of Torah novellae can be traced to the Or Shraga. These glosses have never been printed. Found in several places in the book are signatures and stamps of the sons and grandsons of the Or Shraga who served as Yazd sages and rabbis: "Moshe son of Ma'or" [son of the Or Shraga], "Yitzchak son of R. Moshe " [R. Yitzchak son of R. Moshe grandson of the Or Shraga], "Moshe son of R. Yitzchak grandson of the Ma'or Shraga" [called "Mula Ajababa"], "Refael son of R. Chacham Moshe grandson of the Ma'or". The famous kabbalist Mula [Chacham] Or Shraga (died in 1794), Rabbi of the city of Yazd, was the most venerable sage and leader of Persian Jewry. He reputedly arrived in Yazd from Isfahan, after being sentenced to death together with another nine rabbis by the city governor who was a rabid Jew-hater. Out of the ten, seven rabbis were murdered and only three miraculously escaped, among them the Or Shraga who fled to Yazd. [The other rabbis were Mula Daryavesh who escaped to Shiraz and Mula Moshe to Kashan. They regularly held a study session with one another by Kefitzat Haderech]. The move of the Or Shraga to Yazd revived Jewish life in the city and due to his powerful impact, Yazd Jewry were devoted to Torah study and mitzvoth in spite of their remoteness from Jewish centers. Under his rabbinical influence, Yazd developed into a Torah center in itself which affected the spiritual state of all of Persian Jewry earning it the cognomen "Small Jerusalem" and "Dor al Ibarat [center of faith]. The Rabbi Or Shraga was celebrated as an outstanding Torah scholar who dedicated his life to Torah study and as a tsaddik and kabbalist and wonder-worker. According to tradition, he merited studying Torah from Eliyahu HaNavi who revealed to him that he descended from King David. Persian tradition recounts many amazing tales about him. It is told that when the Persian Shah saw him, he saw a pillar of fire hovering above his head and gave him a royal mantle as a sign of honor. The humility of the Or Shraga did not allow him to wear the mantle and he cut off its sleeves. When an officer of the Shah noticed the cutoff sleeves, he fumed and raised his arm to slap him; however his arm withered and became paralyzed. Only after the Shah's entreaties, did the Or Shraga pray for the officer and his arm was restored to its former state. Another story attributes the miraculous deliverance of the Yazd population from rebels who besieged the city to the Or Shraga. His reputation spread beyond the boundaries of Persia. Recounted in the book "M'Yazd L'Eretz HaKodesh" (Jerusalem 1987, p. 144), is the saying of the Ba'al Shem Tov who never met the Or Shraga that "I have a faraway friend - Rabbi Or Shraga". The grave of the Or Shraga, in the Yazd cemetery became a site for pilgrimage by Jews and non-Jews alike and word spread that his grave has segulot for salvation. Rabbi Or Shraga was also revered by the Muslim Yazd residents. A story is told of a non-Jew Yazd resident who was struck by a storm at sea and after he cried "G-d of Or Shraga, answer me", the sea became calm. From that time on, that non-Jew used to light an oil light on his grave every year. The Or Shraga and his descendants were rabbis and leaders of the Yazd community for 200 years. His descendants still stand at the helm of the Yazd Jewish community in Eretz Israel. Despite the renown and esteem of the Or Shraga among Persian Jews, so far no Torah writings by him were discovered [known are only two letters on community matters with his signature]. This item is an important discovery which can pour light on his method of study and philosophy. Pasted on the inside of the front cover is part of an envelope in which a letter was sent from the Yazd community to Babylonia, with a poetic flowery inscription. , 107, 109-117, 119 leaves (originally: , 122 leaves. Lacking leaves 108, 118, 120-122). Leaf 108 is a handwritten replacement. Leaves 120-122 missing at the end are index leaves. 29.5 cm. Fair condition. Stains, wear and tears. Clipped margins, affecting text of glosses in some places. Open tears to several leaves, with restorations and handwritten replacements. Contemporary damaged leather binding. Enclosed is a report identifying the handwriting of the glosses as that of Mula Or Shraga, by Benjamin Richler, former director of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in the National Library of Israel.