Friday, October 18, 2013

Order of Preference in building your Jewish Library: Rabbi Moshe Hagiz Style

The last of the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah, is that of writing a Sefer Torah. Many Poskim today, include purchasing printed books in this Biblical Commandment, making the purchasing of Sefarim, a religious obligation, no less than buying an Etrog etc.
Rabbi Moshe Hagiz, in his commentary Eleh Hamitzvot on the 613 Mitzvot, guides the reader on which books you are obligated to purchase, provided you have the ability. It is interesting to note his preferences, and the titles he chooses to describe each genre, providing a mirror to what his personal library must have looked like, and to what was popular at the time.
His List goes something like this; Torah with Perush Rashi, Mishnayot, Shulchan Aruch. Menorat Hamaor, Reshit Chochma, Ein Yaakov & Midrash Rabbah. "And those that are blessed with wealth" should also buy a Talmud, Rif, Rambam and Bet Yosef.
He then describes choice works in the vernacular, works which have been translated such as Sefer Hachinuch, Menorat Hamaor, Sha'ar Hayirah of Reshit Chocham and the works of Menasseh Ben Israel, the choicest one being Conciliador, Nomologia o Discursos Legales of Immanuel Aboab, and Parafrasis Comentada sobre el Pentateuco of Isaac Aboab da Fonseca. The list ends with Isaac Cardoso's; Las Excelencias y Calunias de los Hebreos.

1887 Warsaw Edition of Eleh Hamitzvot

1887 Warsaw Edition of Eleh Hamitzvot

In 1765 רבי גדליה טיקוס published תורת קטן a shortened version of Hagiz's Sefer Hamitzvot. His clarification of the commandment takes it to the extreme. In his description of the Mitzvah, he writes, how "today, there is an obligation to buy as many books as you can afford so you will have the ability to learn from them... and through this may we merit the coming of Mashiach in our times, Amen. "

Text from Torat Katan 1765

No mention of the Biblical obligation to purchase books is complete without mention of the famous Haskamah to Otzar Hasefarim Ben Yaakov, given to the sefer by Rabbi Shlomo Hakohen, the famed Av Beis Din and Posek of Vilna. I have heard in the name of Eliezer Brodt, that every collector should have this Haskamah on his wall. " ובכל ספר וספר שיקנה יקיים בזה מצוות עשה דאורייתא"
Below is the Entire Haskamah, starting on the left column.

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