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Lot 33: Avodat Yisrael - J?zef?w, 1842 - First Edition - Handwritten Unknown Censors' Omissions

Auction 53 - Rare and Important Items

by Kedem Public Auction House Ltd

15 November 2016

Jerusalem, Israel

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  • Avodat Yisrael - J?zef?w, 1842 - First Edition - Handwritten Unknown Censors' Omissions
  • Avodat Yisrael - J?zef?w, 1842 - First Edition - Handwritten Unknown Censors' Omissions
  • Avodat Yisrael - J?zef?w, 1842 - First Edition - Handwritten Unknown Censors' Omissions
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Description: Avodat Yisrael, homilies on the Torah and on Pirkei Avot, by the Magid Rabbi Yisrael of Koznitz. J?zef?w, 1842. First edition. Handsome copy on bluish paper. Two title pages. Leaf 9 is typographically different and is printed on paper different from that of the preceding and following leaves. On the margins of this leaf are several handwritten glosses. The inspection of these glosses revealed a surprising fact: these were censors' omissions from the version originally written by the Magid of Koznitz. Mentions of "nations" and "akum" (Hebrew acronym that stands for non-Jews, worshipers of the constellations) appear in the omitted sentences. Apparently, this version was invalidated by the censor during printing and the leaf had to be reprinted omitting the offending passages to comply with his requirements. Inspection of the copies in the National Library of Israel did not uncover the original leaf; possibly other copies also lack that leaf. After the first reprinting with the censorship corrections, the revised version was printed in all editions. This copy is the first to be found with the author's original version. To the best of our knowledge, the fact that this leaf was reprinted due to censorship was hitherto unknown. The author, R. Yisrael Hofstein, known as the Magid of Koznitz (Kozienice) (1737-1815, Encyclopedia L'Chassidut Vol. 2, pp. 542-548) was a leading rebbe who spread Chassidism throughout Poland. Born in Apta, according to Chassidic lore, he was named Yisrael by the instructions of the Ba'al Shem Tov who directed his parents to call their son by his own name saying that "all the Heavenly entourage participate in his joy". From his youth, he was known as a prodigy and great Torah scholar. After his marriage, he became close to R. Shmelke of Nikolsburg who at that time served as Rabbi of Rychwa? and he encouraged R. Yisrael to travel to the Magid of Mezritch who relied on R. Yisrael to edit Kabbalistic books and siddurim (he was reputed to have studied 600 Kabbalistic works before coming to the Magid of Mezritch). After the death of the Magid, he became a Chassid of R. Elimelech of Lizhensk (Le?ajsk) and was considered one of his leading disciples so much so that people would say that he inherited his "power of heart" from Rabbi Elimelech. In 1765, he began filling the position of a Magid Mesharim (preacher) in the city of Kozienice and from 1786, thousands of Chassidim began to throng to his court until he became one of the foremost rebbes in all of Poland. R. Yitzchak Meir Alter, author of Chiddushei HaRim is one the famous disciples of the Magid and was raised in his home. The Magid of Koznitz wrote many books on all Torah topics: halacha, novellae, homilies and kabbalah and was a leading kabbalist in his days. Some of his Kabbalistic compositions expounded upon early Kabbalistic books and the books of the Maharal of Prague. His famous book Avodat Yisrael was not printed in his lifetime but is known to be his most primary work and one of the most important Chassidic books, printed many times. Chassidic leaders praised the holiness of the book and its author. For example, the author of Aryeh D've Ila'i writes in his approbation: "…His words burn like fire…which inspire the heart of the reader…". Rebbe Ber of Radoszyce writes in his approbation: "With this I know that all who seek true Torah can find balm for their souls in the remaining holy writings". The author of Divrei Yechezkel of Sieniawa said: "All the books of the disciples of the Ba'al Shem Tov are holy and the holy book Avodat Yisrael is holy of holies". [5], 90, 32 leaves. Two title pages. Bluish paper. 20.5 cm. Good condition. Stains. Stamps on first title page. Light worming to some leaves. Fabric binding with leather spine, wear and slight damages. Stefansky Chassidut, no. 452. Rare copy. To the best of our knowledge, this book has not yet been offered for auction. Leaf [5] which contains three approbations, including an approbation of Rebbe Chaim Halberstam of Sanz, was added to only some copies because the approbations were brought to the printer after he had concluded printing the book [as written by the publisher on the margins of this leaf].

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