128 leaves (7 1/2 x 5½ in.; 192 x 140 mm). Quires 26-27 misbound between 23.3 and 23.4, rendering the current collation thus: 1-224, 233(=.1, .2, .3) (26-274), 231(=.4), 24-254, 28-324. Woodcut title border surmounted by crown device, woodcut diagrams at 4.2v, 23.4v; owner's note on f 1r. Lightly soiled and stained; marginal dampstains, occasional spotting and browning. Final leaf mounted, loss to corner at gutter affecting a few letters. Speckled edges. Later vellum, soiled, with losses to upper board.
The present work is a summary, in verse, of the 613 biblical mitzvot or commandments. The author, David ben Solomon Vital (d. ca. 1536) was among the Jewish exiles from Spain; in addition to his rabbinical responsibilities, Vital was a physician and is referred to as ha-Rofe (the doctor). He resided in Patras, Greece until his home was destroyed and his library lost during the Turco-Venetian war (1532), after which he relocated to Arta. A respected scholar, Vital corresponded with leading rabbis such as Jacob Tam ibn Yahya and Meir Katzenellenbogen, who mention Vital in laudatory terms in their responsa. Vital calls his book Keter Torah because the sum of the numerical values of the letters of the word Keter (620) is equivalent to the 613 mitzvot plus an additional seven, rabbinically ordained, commandments. The title page employs one of the Soncino ornamental frames, topped by a crown (keter), an allusion to the title. Two woodcut diagrams, one of three hands, relating to the calendar, the other of a lung, relating to the dietary laws, are included in the work, which culminates with a poetic colophon from Solomon ben Mazzal-Tov.
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