Lot 39: Sha'arei Kedusha / Alim L'Terufah - Jerusalem, 1907 - Copy with Elaborate Leather Binding that Belonged to the Ben Ish Chai
November 15, 2016
Jerusalem, IsraelLive Auction
Description: Sha'arei Kedusha, mussar and kabbalistic customs, by Rabbi Chaim Vital. Jerusalem, 1907. Bound with: Alim L'Terufah, Igeret Mussar of the Ramban, with Igeret Musar of the Vilna Gaon and Orchot Ish by the Rosh. Jerusalem, 1907. Pocket edition. Both books were printed in the same printing press, without mention of its name. At the beginning of Sha'arei Kedusha, a notice is printed regarding the woman who brought it to print, "The dear woman Rivka daughter of the dear Yosef Avraham Shalom Yosef, wife of the dear Yitzchak Refael Balilius", whose "spirit moved her to reprint this cherished book in the printing press of the city of Jerusalem " [Rivka Balilius was a renowned philanthropist of the Babylonian Jewish community. Her father, R. Yosef Avraham Shalom, established and funded the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem]. In the book Alim L'Terufah, this edition also features Segula Nifla'ah to "be saved from the curse of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai", by "The mighty Torah scholar R. Yosef Chaim who grandly rules the Jews of Babylonia and its region and it was printed in his awesome book Ben Ish Chai ". Splendid copy bound in an elaborate leather binding, with gilt adornments. Embossed in the center of the binding: "C.R. [Chacham Rabbi] Yosef Chaim" - this copy was prepared especially in honor of R. Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, author of Ben Ish Chai. Apparently, it was dedicated to the "Ben Ish Chai" by the publisher, the philanthropist Rivka Balilius. On the front flyleaf is a dedication handwritten and signed by "Ya'akov son of R. Yosef Chaim" - the Chacham Rabbi Ya'akov, son of the Ben Ish Chai who gave this book as a "token of love" to R. David Sassoon on the 5th of Cheshvan 1911, one year after the death of the Ben Ish Chai. R. Yoseph Chaim of Baghdad (1833-1909), author of Ben Ish Chai and dozens of other important books. Son of R. Eliyahu, son of R. Moshe Chaim Rabbi of Baghdad. Disciple of R. Abdallah Somekh, famous for his Torah knowledge and piety. After his father died in 1859, at the young age of 26, R. Yoseph Chaim succeeded his father as orator in the Great Synagogue of Baghdad and thereafter delivered a sermon there every Shabbat for 50 years. On special Shabbatot such as Shabbat Tshuva and Shabbat HaGadol, more than 4000 people would congregate to hear his sermons and he would enthrall the audience for four to five hours, spicing his words with charming parables. His sermons were a mixture of halacha and aggada, rulings and commentary and aggadot Chazal, according to their simple meaning (pshat), remez and their hidden meanings (kabbalah). The author of Ben Ish Chai was the leading Torah scholar of his city and the entire country. All the Baghdad rabbis and dayanim submitted to his authority and he was the unchallenged leader of Babylonian Jews. His greatness in revealed and hidden Torah became renowned throughout the world and he was famous for his great holiness. In 1869, he travelled to Eretz Israel to pray at the graves of tsaddikim, and at that time, he received a Heavenly revelation that his neshama (soul) originated from the neshama of Benayahu ben Yehoyada after whom he named many of his works: Ben Ish Chai, Ben Ish Chayil, Ben Yehoyada, Rav Pe'alim, Od Yoseph Chai, etc. His other books are Leshon Chachamim, Aderet Eliyahu, Torah Lishma responsa (which he printed anonymously), Chasdei Avot, Birkat Avot and more. Two books bound together. 82 leaves; 13,  leaves. 10.5 cm. Leaf 6 of Sha'arei Kedusha is torn and partly lacking (affecting text). Good condition. Few stains. Damaged bindings. Provenance: Sassoon family collection.