Berlin and Dessau: Hevrat Hinukh Ne‘arim (Berlin Freischule)/[n.p.], 1782-1819. First editions (2 of 4). Sammelband of four opuscules, octavo. Contemporary half calf (top inch perished) over pastepaper boards; spine lettered and tooled in gilt. Edges speckled blue. Covers lightly worn, else fine, clean copies (the fourth work lightly foxed throughout). The first three works issued from the Hevrat Hinukh Ne'arim (Berlin Freischule) under the supervision of Isaac Satanow (1732-1804), the most prolific Hebrew writer of the Berlin Haskalah. As director of the publishing house, Satanow was assigned the task of reissuing old Hebrew classics by the Marpeh ha-Nefesh, a philanthropic group headed by the banker Daniel Itzig, his son-in-law, David Friedländer, and the famous physican and philosopher, Marcus Herz. A number of these editions, however, were in fact orignal works by Satanow, which he presented as the work of earlier writers. The first item in the sammelband is an outstanding example of this latter type.
I. Kuntres mi-Sefer ha-Zohar Hibura Tinyana, Berlin: Hevrat Hinukh Ne‘arim, 1783. [aleph]-[gimel]8 [dalet]1; 25ff. Vinograd (Berlin) 313. First edition of this polemic styled in imitation of the Zohar as a response to the Mitpahat Sefarim (1768) of Jacob Emden (1697-1776), in which the latter calls into question the antiquity and textual integrity of that chief work of the Jewish mystical tradition. Emden's critique may be understood as an attempt to undermine the doctrinal foundation of the Frankists, who based their beliefs on the Zohar. "Emden had suspected the authenticity of the Zohar for a long time, and he hoped some time 'to reveal the strange things found in the book.' But these intentions were secretly nursed within him for many years until the time was propitious for his exposé" (Cohen). Perhaps surprisingly for a maskil, Satanow held a very different view: "While advocating secular knowledge and the study of science, Satanow also expressed great admiration for Kabbalah... In contrast to Emden he claims that the whole Zohar was written by Bar Yohai, and Moses De Leon had nothing to do with its writing. He also rejects Emden's claim that in the Zohar there are words against the Talmud, and promises to 'consult the Zohar and prove that all its words are right and truthful, none of them is crooked [Kuntres mi-Sefer ha-Zohar, pp. 25, 26]" (N. Rezler-Bersohn). Born in the Polish (now Ukrainian) town of Satanov, Isaac Satanow settled in Berlin around 1771. "Among the most prolific of the early Haskalah writers... Satanow demonstrated a wealth of knowledge of the Hebrew language, ranking as a model stylest throughout the Haskalah period" (EJ 14: 905-906). As a leading representive of the eighteenth-century Jewish Enlightement, Satanow boldly displayed a "conglomeration of contrasts" (Jewish Enc. XI: 71): “Though Orthodox in his beliefs, he nevertheless favored Reform in practice. He was one of the greatest authorities on Jewish tradition and lore, yet he was one of the most free-thinking of philosophers.” For a more detailed discussion of this and other works by Satanow, see N. Rezler-Bersohn, "Isaac Satanow - An Epitome of an Era" [in:] Year Book XXV, Leo Baeck Institute (1980). For Emden in the present context, see M. L. Cohen, Jacob Emden, A Man of Controversy (Philadelphia: The Dropsie College, 1937), pp. 254ff.
II. Sefer Igeret ha-Kodesh, Berlin, 553 . 7ff. Vinograd (Berlin) 415. Later edition of this well-known work. The celebrated talmudist and exegete, Nachmanides (the Ramban, Moses ben Nachman, ca. 1195-ca. 1270) acted as a conciliator between the parties in the early 13th-century controversies surrounding the philosophical and secular direction of Maimonides growing influence. "After having given the earlier part of his life to his Talmudical works, Moses [Nachmanides] devoted himself to writing of a homiletic-exegetic and devotional character. To these belong the "Iggeret ha-Kodesh" and the "Torat ha-Adam." In the former, which deals with the holiness and significance of marriage, Moses criticizes Maimonides for stigmatizing as a disgrace to man certain of the desires implanted in the human body. In Moses' opinion, the body with all its functions being the work of God, none of its impulses can be regarded as intrinsically objectionable" (Jewish Enc. IX:88).The rare editio princeps appeared at Rome in 1546; the editior of the present edition, Isaac Satanow, notes at the title that the letter was “printed in Basel in the year 340,” referring to the 1580 edition of Ambrosius Froben (Prijs 127).
III. Nevu’at ha-Yeled Berlin: [Hevrat Hinukh Ne‘arim], 549 . [asterisk]8 2[asterisk]2. 10 unnumbered leaves. Vinograd (Berlin) 384. Later edition of a medieval Hebrew short story, with commentary, first printed at the end of Jacob Zemah's Sefer Nagid u-Metzaveh (Constantinople, 1726). "The body of the tale is followed by a number of occult prophecies in Aramaic. it was known already as early as the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th when some kabbalists, among them R. Abraham b. Eliezer ha-Levi, wrote commentaries on the prophecies... The story tells of a wonder child, Nahman, born in the fifth century to a kabbalist; the child died very young, but immediately upon birth began to tell his mother secrets of the heavenly worlds. His father cautioned him not to reveal mysteries forbidden to man, and from then the child spoke only obscurely and enigmatically. Modern scholars have attempted to date the story and the prophecies therein by tracing known historical events hinted at, and relating them to the text. The obscurity of the text makes this very difficult, but it seems probable that historical events in the 15th century, especially in the East, are referred to in the prophecies. However, the purpose of the story and its prophecies was to anticipate the coming of the Messiah and to describe the major political and historical events and catastrophes bringing about his final revelation. The kabbalists interpreted the prophecies as hinting at the coming of the Messiah in the early 16th century" (JE XII:1020). Here, the commentary on the Aramaic "prophecies" is likely attributable to Satanow.
IV. Herev Nokemet Nekam Berit, [Dessau], 579 . 16pp. Vinograd (Dessau) 77. First edition of this famous polemical letter. A leader of the Reform movement, Meyer Israel Bresselau (d. 1839) together with I. S. Fraenkel edited and adapted in 1818 a prayer book for the Hamburg Reform Temple under the title Seder ha-Avodah. He anonymouly published the present work in response to Eleh Divrei ha-Berit (Altona, 1819), "a pamphlet which collated the views of the greatest Orthodox rabbis of Western Europe against Reform Judaism and its innovations." A rhymed work written in a satirical biblical style, Herev Nokemet is "remarkable in its witty take-off on the Orthodox rabbis who opposed the reforms in the Hamburg Reform synagogue... It ranks among the best Hebrew polemic literature written at the time of the Haskalah" (EJ 4:1358) In response, Meir Leib Reinitz published his Lahat ha-Herev ha-Mithappekhet in 1820. Bresselau's polemic was reprinted as an appendix to Bernfelds's Toledot ha-Reformazyon ha-Datit be-Yisrael in 1900. Item #48885
קונטרס מספר הזהר חיבורא תניינא
ספר אגרת הקדש
חרב נקמת נקם ברית.