LIKUTIM ME-RAV HA’I GA’ON: SODOT ‘AMUKOT...’INYAN HA-MERKAVAH...’AL ‘ESER SEFIROT...

Poland; Warsaw, 1798 [ca 1990]. Item #27911

Reprint [ca. 1990]. Hardcover, 12mo, 46 leaves. In Hebrew. SUBJECT(S) : Cabala. Hai Ben Sherira (939-1038) was a “gaon of Pumbedita and molder of the halakhah and the most prominent figure of his time. Of his youth nothing is known. From 986 he was the avbet din in the academy of Pumbedita, acting as the deputy to his father Sherira gaon; in this role he left his mark upon the mode of studies and general orientation of the academy. According to some, he had a share in composing the Iggeret Rav Sherira. Some time after he and his father had been released from prison, where they had been kept on a false charge, he became the gaon of Pumbedita, while his father was still alive, a position which he held for 40 years. Although his position had been vied for by Samuel b. Hophni the latter withdrew his claim to the gaonate when Hai married his daughter. Students came to Hai’s academy from Byzantium and from western Christian countries, from where queries were also sent to Hai. His ties with Spain and his influence upon Samuel ha-Nagid in particular are well known. Aside from his preeminence in rabbinic knowledge, he was well acquainted with the Persian and Arabic languages and with Arabic literature. While he permitted children to be taught Arabic writing and arithmetic, he warned against the study of philosophy. He criticized his father-in-law, Samuel b. Hophni, “and others like him, who frequently read the works of non-Jews. ” Hai occupies a central position in the history of the halakhah. Later generations regarded him as the supreme authority, declaring that “he, more than all the geonim, propagated the Torah in Israel … both in the east and in the west. … No one among his predecessors can be compared to him, who was the last of the geonim. ” The measure of his influence and the volume of his responsa, decisions, and comments can be gauged from the fact that approximately a third of all extant geonic responsaare his. In his writings Hai set out in detail his approach to the principles of faith and to the requirements of community leadership. In his piyyutim he expressed with much bitterness his sense of living in exile from Erez Israel. He was a mystic, who ascribed sanctity to the heikhalot literature, believing that whoever studied it in holiness and purity could ascend to the world of the angels and of the divine chariot...Hai drew special attention to the duty of the dayyanim to guide and admonish the people, to take responsibility for people's conduct and to be accountable for their sins. He demanded that strong measures be taken against dissenters and thieves, and under certain circumstances even permitted recourse to Jewish courts of law. He was opposed to the absolute annulment of vows on the eve of the Day of Atonement, his formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer being: “Of all vows… which we have vowed… and have omitted to fulfill either through neglect or under constraint we pray that the Lord of heaven may absolve and pardon us. ” He adopted a tolerant attitude towards traditional local liturgical practices, but was opposed to delving into the reasons for them, insisting on “the observance of institutions introduced by those superior to our generations in learning and in caliber”. He retained his physical and mental energies to the end. At the age of 99, a few months before his death, he replied with remarkable vigor to questions submitted to him. After his death, Samuel ha-Nagid eulogized him, saying: “During his lifetime he acquired all the choicest wisdom, ” and though “he left no child, he has, in every land, both east and west, children whom he reared in the Torah”. Of Hai’s works the following are extant: (1) fragments of the Arabic original of Sefer Shevu’ot, and a Hebrew rendering by an unknown translator of the entire work entitled Mishpetei Shevu’ot; (2) fragments of the Arabic original of Sefer ha-Mikkah ve-ha-Mimkar. This, his chief literary production, was translated into Hebrew by Isaac Al-Bargeloni, and another version is extant in manuscript; (3) Sefer ha-Shetarot, containing the texts of various documents, such as a ketubbah, a get, etc. Fragments of Hai’s commentary on several tractates of the Babylonian Talmud have also been preserved. The ascription of certain other works to Hai has, in recent years, been rejected. (4) Hai wrote numerous responsa. In 1986, T. Groner published a complete bibliography of Hai’s responsa and his other works as well. (5) To aid the study of Arabic, Hai wrote Kitab Al-Hawi, a comprehensive Hebrew/Aramaic-Arabic anagrammatic dictionary. It was very popular and in use through the end of the 13th century. A. Maman published 10 of the 32 folios of the dictionary. Only three folios had been previously published. The rest was extant only in manuscript” (Ben-Sasson, Levinger, Derovan in EJ, 2007) . OCLC lists 3 copies worldwide (JTS, YU, Harvard) . Very good condition. (Heb-40-19).

Price: $100.00

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