Auction 75 Rare and Important Items
Nov 24, 2020
Israel
 8 Ramban St, Jerusalem.
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LOT 6:

Commentary to Mishnayot by the Rambam – First Edition, Naples, 1492 – Incunabulum – Copy of Rabbi Avraham HaLevy ...

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Commentary to Mishnayot by the Rambam – First Edition, Naples, 1492 – Incunabulum – Copy of Rabbi Avraham HaLevy Bacrat, Spanish Exile, Author of Sefer HaZikaron – With Thousands of Glosses in His Handwriting
Mishnah with commentary by R. Moshe son of Maimon – the Rambam, Orders Kodashim and Taharot. [Naples: Joshua Solomon Soncino, 1492]. First edition of the Rambam's commentary to Mishnayot.
This copy belonged to R. Avraham HaLevy Bacrat, a Spanish exile, author of Sefer HaZikaron – supercommentary to the Rashi commentary on the Torah. Tractates Kelim and Ohalot of Order Taharot are annotated with thousands of his handwritten glosses. At the end of Order Kodashim, there is a lengthy introduction in his handwriting, in which he sharply criticizes the errors found in the translation of Rambam's commentary (from Judeo-Arabic) and in the printed edition of this work, and explains that he therefore chose to correct this book to the best of his ability.
Volume from the Naples edition, containing the first printed edition of the Rambam's commentary to Mishnayot, written originally in Judeo-Arabic, and translated by several translators during various periods. Order Kodashim (present in this volume) was translated by R. Netanel son of R. Yossi ibn Almoli. The name of the translator of Order Taharot (present in this volume) is not mentioned. Some say that it was also translated by R. Netanel, translator of Order Kodashim.
Includes the text of the Mishnayot. Two columns per page. Each Mishnah (in square typeface) is followed by the commentary (in semi-cursive Rashi typeface). Woodcut initial word at the beginning of Order Taharot.
At the end of Order Kodashim, which was printed last, there is a summary of the number of chapters in each tractate of the six orders of Mishnah, followed by several colophons by the printer. The first colophon, in rhyme, mentions Naples as the town of printing, the printer Joshua of Soncino, and the completion of the printing in Iyar 1492. This poem is followed by a long passage of praise and acknowledgments upon the completion of the printing, giving credit to "R. Avraham Talmid Sephardi" for his assistance in the printing, and to "R. Yosef ibn Piso Sephardi" for his financial backing; "and it was completed on Tuesday, 11th Iyar 1492, here in Naples, under His Majesty King Ferdinand…".
The printer then apologizes for printing the colophon at the end of Order Kodashim and not Taharot, and explains that since the manuscripts of Kodashim were not available, they first printed Order Taharot and only later went back to print Order Kodashim, concluding the printing of this edition therewith.
At the bottom of this page, there is a lengthy inscription by R. Avraham Bacrat – an introduction to his many glosses which follow in Order Taharot, sharply criticizing the quality of the translation, the transcription and the printed edition.
R. Avraham writes that the printed text is error-ridden, due both to printing errors and to the inaccuracy of the original translation, and he therefore decided to endeavor to raise this composition from its lowly stature.
Further in his introduction, he describes his method in composing glosses, and his occasional reference to the original word in Arabic: "And I wrote in a few places 'A' [=Arabic] such and such, to indicate to those proficient in that language the source of the mistake, how the first translator mistook one word for another or one meaning for another, and that is the proof that he merely translated the words, without understanding the topic…".
He then praises his own work: "…and only someone who spends a day or two in fruitless attempts to understand the commentary, and then goes back to study this corrected text, will appreciate what I did and thank me for it".
This introduction is followed by the comprehensive work of R. Avraham HaLevi Bacrat, in the form of thousands of handwritten glosses, markings and deletions throughout the leaves of Tractates Kelim and Ohalot. The glosses consist of comments, explanations and many textual emendations (based on the Arabic source). In several places, R. Avraham translated entire paragraphs from the Arabic source, and in one place he added the commentary of an entire Mishnah, which had been omitted in this printed edition, in his own translation from the Arabic. In many places he copied the original Arabic word, marked with the letter A [=Arabic].
R. Avraham son of Shlomo HaLevy Bacrat, Torah scholar and poet, a Spanish exile. He was one of the first to compose a supercommentary to Rashi's commentary – Sefer HaZikaron. He lived in Malaga, Spain, and after the expulsion in 1492, made his way with many other exiles to Tlemcen, Algeria. In 1507 he moved to Tunis and there he composed his supercommentary to Rashi's commentary on the Torah. This work is known as Sefer HaZikaron, and it was completed in 1516 (the book was only printed in Livorno, 1845, after the manuscript wandered from Tunis to Italy). In his preface to this book, he writes that he is from "the exile that was exiled from Spain…" and at the end of his preface, he writes: "And this I began writing, while in exile, caught in the thicket of wandering, sojourning here like a guest in Tunis, 1507…". Sefer HaZikaron is a basic work pertaining to the Rashi commentary on the Torah. R. Avraham exhibits therein his proficiency in the Arabic language, explaining words "based on Arabic, which is derivative of the Holy Tongue". R. Avraham Bacrat was known in his times as a poet, and in a poem composed in his honor by his colleague (also a native of Malaga) R. Avraham Benzamero (quoted in Omer HaShikhecha by R. A. Gavison, also a Spanish exile who fled to North Africa; Livorno 1748, pp. 126b-127a), he is described as "Avraham, finest of poets". R. Avraham also composed a lamentation on the expulsion of Spanish Jewry (published by Chaim Hillel Sassoon in: Tarbiz, 31 [1], 1961, pp. 59-71). This lamentation is prefaced by his first-hand testimony describing the expulsion and the trials and tribulations endured by the exiles.
Volume lacking beginning and end. Begins at the end of Tractate Menachot, and ends with the first chapter of Tractate Mikvaot. [99] leaves. 8-leaf gatherings. Kodashim: gatherings 30 (lacking first two leaves), 31, 32, 33 (second leaf bound back to front), 34. Altogether [38] leaves (Order Kodashim originally: [56] leaves). Taharot: gatherings 35 (fourth leaf of this gathering erroneously bound after first leaf of gathering 38), 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 (lacking final two leaves of this gathering). Altogether [61] leaves (Order Taharot originally: [86] leaves).
32 cm. Condition varies (overall fair condition). Stains, including dampstains. Tears and wear. Open tears to a large number of leaves, affecting text. Large open tears to three leaves, significantly affecting text (leaf with chapters I and II of Tractate Arachin; leaf with chapters I, II and III of Tractate Keritot; and leaf with conclusion of Tractate Taharot and beginning of Tractate Mikvaot). All leaves were professionally restored with paper and rebound. Margins trimmed, affecting text on some leaves. Some glosses trimmed. New leather binding, with damage.

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