View full screen - View 1 of Lot 59. MYSTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PRAYER BOOK, [RABBI JOSEPH TAITATSAK, PROVENCE: FIRST HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY].
59

MYSTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PRAYER BOOK, [RABBI JOSEPH TAITATSAK, PROVENCE: FIRST HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

7,000 - 10,000 USD

MYSTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PRAYER BOOK, [RABBI JOSEPH TAITATSAK, PROVENCE: FIRST HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY]

MYSTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PRAYER BOOK, [RABBI JOSEPH TAITATSAK, PROVENCE: FIRST HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

7,000 - 10,000 USD

Lot sold:

13,860

USD

MYSTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PRAYER BOOK, [RABBI JOSEPH TAITATSAK, PROVENCE: FIRST HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY]


64 pages (7 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.; 185 x 165 mm) (collation indeterminate) on paper; watermark similar to Briquet 10738 (Provence, 1528); modern pagination in pencil in Arabic numerals in upper-outer corners; written in elegant Sephardic semi-cursive script in brown ink; single-column text of twenty-six lines per page; unruled; justification of lines via dilation or contraction of final letters, abbreviation, and use of anticipatory letters; catchwords at foot of each verso (excepting pp. 16, 54, 62); intermittent corrections in scribe’s hand (e.g., pp. 13-14, 50, 60); possible owner’s mark (“Mordechai”) on p. 52; pen trial on p. 53. Enlarged incipits; Tetragrammaton generally represented via three dots in a triangular formation; Tetragrammaton apparently skimmed from surface of p. 5. Several folios lacking between pp. 62-63; all pages mounted on guards; scattered staining (see esp. pp. 17-18) and dampstaining, with periodic smudging of ink; minor wormhole in lower quadrant throughout, affecting only individual letters; small repairs near inner margins of pp. 1-2, 27-28, 31-32 (with loss), 33-34, near outer margins of pp. 63-64, and along upper edges of pp. 5-6, 29-30, 49-60; two small holes on pp. 3-4, affecting only individual letters; tear emanating from gutter at center of pp. 49-62 repaired, mostly with only minimal loss; pp. 61-64 silked and repaired in margins; a few holes and tears on pp. 61-62, affecting individual words. Modern brown buckram; paper tickets on spine with manuscript title and shelf mark in ink; modern paper flyleaves and pastedowns; Sassoon bookplate on pastedown of upper board.


An unpublished esoteric exploration of the daily and Sabbath liturgy.


The present work constitutes an extended meditation on the mystical symbolism of Jewish prayer. Beginning with a discussion of the meaning of various divine epithets, the text proceeds to analyze each passage in the daily and Sabbath morning liturgies, from Yishtabbah (or Nishmat on the Sabbath) through the Amidah, before returning to treat the beginning of the weekday evening service. The fact that the last leaf of the volume comments on the Rosh Hashanah Amidah suggests that the original work was significantly longer than what has come down to us.


The text makes regular reference to the kabbalistic doctrine of the Ten Sefirot, to the supernal worlds, and to olam ha-ba (the future world). One particularly interesting passage toward the end of the codex (p. 57), in commenting on the words ra’ah ve-hitkin tsurat ha-levanah from the Sabbath morning service, interprets this sentence as a reference to God having seen the four hurbanot (destructions): those of the First and Second Temples, “the destruction of the exiles in France, and the destruction of the exiles from Jerusalem dwelling in Spain.” It seems likely that the author was himself expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. Indeed, modern analysis of the language used here has shown that it bears a strong resemblance to that of Rabbi Joseph Taitatsak (1465-1546), a Spanish exile who became one of the premier halakhists and kabbalists of sixteenth-century Salonika. Thorough study of the volume would surely yield further insight into the theological-spiritual world of Sephardic Jewry in this critical, tumultuous period of its history.


Sotheby’s is grateful to Aryeh Ne’eman for providing information that aided in the cataloging of this manuscript.


Literature

David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid: Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, vol. 1 ([Oxford]: Oxford University Press; London: Humphrey Milford, 1932), 304 (no. 563).

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