Commentary and elaboration on Rashi’s commentary on Chamishah Chumshei Torah by Rabbi Shabsai Meshorrer Bass.
Rare copy, complete with illustrated title pages for Chumash, Megillos and Hatfaros.
Taking note of the many learners who struggled to understand Rashi’s commentary, famous for its brevity, Rabbi Shabsai Meshorrer Bass undertook to create a commentary that would draw from the works of the great commentators on Rashi to illuminate and elaborate Rashi’s concise text.
In time, his commentary, entitled Sifsei Chachamim, would become the most famous and popular among the commentaries on Rashi.
Sifsei Chachamim was originally printed by the author in Amsterdam in 1680. The present sefer, the second edition, was printed in the private press Rabbi Shabsai opened in Dyhrenfurth and includes numerous additions (which are marked on the leaves of the sefer with the shape of a hand.) It is thus the first complete edition of Sifsei Chachamim!
The abridged version of Sifsei Chachamim, called Ikrei Sifsei Chachamim, has been printed next to Rashi in nearly every Chumash. After this present printing, it was seldom reprinted in its complete form.
A 331-year-old Jewish song?
Genazym’s staff was fascinated to discover that Rabbi Shabsai had drawn musical notes in the title page of his sefer. We approached a musician to play the composition, and the results can be heard here. A highly unusual addition to a title page!
Recognize the melody or part of it? Contact us!
Rabbi Shabsai Meshorrer Bass (1641–1718) was an eminent scholar, progenitor of the Jewish bibliography, and author of the Sifsei Chachamim super-commentary on Rashi who left his stamp on Torah literature forevermore. His commentary is regarded as the classic elucidation of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah. He Authored as well the sefer Sifsei Yeshenim the first comprehensive Hebrew bibliography, encompassing a list of 2,200 Torah works in alphabetical order of titles. In this work, he notes the author, place of printing, year, and size of each book, as well as a short summary of its contents. His printing house in Dyhrenfurth was famous for printing the original editions of several fundamental works, including the Magen Avraham, Taz and Beis Shmuel.
In his youth, he fled his native Poland after the murder of his parents and settled in Prague where he studied Torah. Blessed with a magnificent voice, he studied music under the famed cantor Rabbi Leib Shir Hashirim and supported himself as the baritone singer in the famous Altschule Choir in Prague, where he earned the title, Rabbi Shabsai Meshorrer Bass (Rabbi Shabsai, the baritone singer).
The sefer opens with two title pages – the first, illustrated with copperplate drawings and music notes. The title pages of the Haftaros and Megillos sections feature a drawing of a man holding music notes accompanied by the words “yodeah nagen, (musician)”. These illustrations are clearly allusions to the author who was a renowned cantor, and it is possible that the person depicted in the drawing is Rabbi Shabsai himself.
Dyhrenfurth, 1693. Good condition, new leather binding.
Page Count: , 368; [335-]362 leaves.
Page Size: 19 cm.
Bibliography: Stefansky, Sifrei Yesod #27, comments.
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