Lot : 17

Original signature of the holy Bach

Rabbi Yoel Sirkis

Cracow 1629

Start price: $200,000
Est. Price: $250,000 - $350,000

Original signature of the holy Bach

Rabbi Yoel Sirkis

Cracow 1629




A lengthy halachic fundamental teshuvah from the great gaon Rabbi Yoel Sirkis the Bac”h concluded with his holy signature.


Four pages written neatly by a scribe, the Bac”h then reviewed the teshuvah and added annotations, and on the bottom of the teshuvah he inscribed this rare and holy signature:


I the humble and young 

Yoel ben la”a [to my father] Morenu….Rabbi Shmuel Z”l 

[Today] Friday 23rd of Shevat 1629….

Here KK”K [Kehula kedosha Kracow]


On the side of the page, three short notations in the sacred handwriting of the Bach.


This teshuvah of the bach is one of the most famous of the bach’s teshuvos, its discussions revolve around the matter of agunos and has many practical halachic ramifications in the matter of agunos.


This teshuvah is quoted by and referred to, by all the great Achronim when discussing matters of agunot. (see below)


At the end of the teshuvah the Bac”h tells of a similar incident that occurred, in which there was an halachic argument between the Mahara”l of Prague and his Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo of Lublin. 


This teshuvah was printed in Teshuvos HaBac”h (Frankfurt 1697) Ch. 86-87. The teshuvah was sent to the Gaon Rabbi Yehoshu of Cracow, author of Shu”t Pnei Yehoshua and Maginei Shlomo, in response to his teshuvah which was printed in Shu”t Geonei Basroei (Turka 1764) Ch. 21. In response, the Mageini Shlomo wrote another teshuvah on the matter, printed in Shu”t Pnei Yehoshua Vol. 2 (Levov 1860) Ch. 47. 


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Handwritten note from the Maginei Shlomo


On the margins of the teshuvah there is a short comment written in the holy hand of the Mageini Shlomo, the recipient of this teshuvah. (the handwriting in this comment is identical to his known handwriting elsewhere, see also Shu”t Pnei Yehoshua ibid.)



Handwritten title by the Beis Efraim


On the top of the page of the teshuvah appears a title written by the Gaon Rabbi Efraim Zalman Margolios author of Beis Efraim, stating: “this teshuvah was printed in Teshuvos HaBach”


It is well-known that the Bais Efraim published Shu”t HaBac”h Hachadoshos (Koretz, 1785), based on the manuscript of responses he inherited from his grandfather the Tevuos Schor. 


Summary of this teshuvah’s priceless treasure:

‘Four page historic teshuvah’ from the Bac”h and his handwritten signature

‘Handwritten notes from the Bac”h’ 

‘Handwritten comment from the ‘Maginei Shlomo’

Belonged to the Tevuos Schor, grandfather of the Bais Efraim

‘Inscription from Rabbi Efraim Zalman Margolios author of Beis Efraim


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 Hagaon Rabbi Yoel Sirkis Av Beis Din of Cracow known as the Bac”h (c.1561-1640) was the Gadol and leader of Klal Yisroel in his times. His halachic rulings, responses, and corrections to the Shas were accepted by all. Authored the sefer Bais Chodosh on the Tur which is from the most elemental seforim in halacha. In his introduction to Shu”t HaBach, the Beis Efraim writes ‘a holy man our Rabbi the author of Beis Chodosh….he judged Israel and built them homes…


Rabbi Yoel Sirkis the Bac”h was niftar on the 20th of Addar 1640 and when his soul ascended to the heavens, an announcement was heard from heaven saying ‘make room for Rabeinu Yoel of Cracow. (introduction of the Tosefes Shabbos, mentioned in the Chida in Shem Hagedolim.


The Bach was greatly admired by Tzaddikim and Admorim

The Minchas Elozor writes on the Bac”h “a pillar of light and fire, whos light shines from the heaven to earth”. It is said in the name of the Admor from Galintza who related: ‘that while the Bach was engrossed in learning Torah, ill patients who would stand close to him, were healed miraculously from their illness. The author of Tiferes Shlomo writes that he heard from the Admor Rabbi Dovid of Leluv that when the Bac”h passed away and ascended to heaven he was honored by the heavenly Bais Din to deliver a derasha, to which he agreed on condition the fire of gehenom would be cooled for 30 days (introduction to Shaar Hagilgulim, Permesula 1875).

Cracow 1629. 2 leaves – 4 complete pages, Condition: Other than generally light spots and some wear in good condition.


Background of the response

There was an incident where a married man was found dead. , the witnesses testifying could not identify him by the features of his face or body, but only through the clothes that remained on him and they wanted to determine his identity based on distinct marks (simanim) on his clothes.


But there is a well-known concern in the laws of agunos of ‘the doubt of borrowing’, that is, when the witnesses testify according to the identification of the garments worn by the dead man in order to provide evidence to determine that the missing husband died, we are concerned that these might not be the clothes of the dead man, but perhaps he borrowed them from the missing individual we are looking for. And if so, we can not determine that the husband of the woman who is seeking to remarry has died. Perhaps it’s a different man wearing her husband’s clothing. 

This question whether to permit agunos to marry based on identification of the husband’s clothing has been a great debate amongst the great Achronim. And the opinion of the Bach is to be stringent and not accept identification of a body through identifying the clothing.

The Bach writes: Heaven forbid we change the ruling in this orphaned generation and agree to be lenient and say we are not concerned with the ‘doubt of borrowing’ especially after that all great autherieties have already accepted this ruling’.

At the end of the teshuvah, the Bach tells of a similar incident that occurred, in which there was an halachic argument between the Mahara”l of Prague and his Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo of Lublin:

And so he writes:

“In my young years, I heard that a story like this happened in the Kehila of Poznan, almost fifty years ago, and the Gaon Rabbi Leib of Prague [the Maharal of Prague] permitted the woman to remarry and his opinion was to rule that we are not concerned with the ‘doubt of borrowing’. However, my teacher and Rabbi the Gaon Rabbi Shlomo the Chassid of Lublin who was the Ab”d of Poznan forbade it… and I, his student, wrote that according to my humble opinion we need to be concerned with the ‘doubt of borrowing’ and I agreed to the opinion of my teacher and the opinion of the Achronim that we would follow them in their rulings.” (see the exchanges between them on this matter, in the preface to Piskei and Shu”t Mahrash of Lublin, Brooklyn 1988, p. 18)

As mentioned, the Bach is the leading opinion for ruling strictly on this question All the great Achronim in their responses in the Laws of Agunos quote and discuss this response of the Bach (see Pithchei Tshuva, Even Ha’Ezer Ch. 17, os 95) 

In the sefer Meorot HaTzovaot (Hordana 1810) which is the most important basic book on the laws of Agunot, it is stated that we can not rule leniently against the Bach’s opinion, unless there are other reasons and arguments in favor of permitting.


As mentioned above, this response was sent to the Maginei Shlomo, and was later held in the possession of the Tevuot Schor, and years later was inherited by the Gaon Rabbi Ephraim Zalman Margaliot who was one of his descendants.

The Gaon Rabbi Yehoshua of Cracow (c. 1580 -1648) of our great Rabbis of the Achronim, author of Maginei Shlomo and Shu”t Pnei Yehoshua. Takmid of the Sem”a and the Maharam Lublin and prime Rabbi of the Shach, he corresponded with the Bac”h and the Ta”z, as well as in Kabbala he corresponded with the holy mekubal Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropoli. Served as a Rabbi in Cracow in the end of the Bach’s days, he took over the position of the Megaleh Amukos’ and later served as rav together with the Tosfos Yom Tov. he responded to countless inquiries in halacha and taught many talmidim torah amongst his talmidim are: the Shach; the Avodas Gershuni; the Ateres Zekainim. His great grandson is the Pnei Yehoshua on the Shas. 

The Gaon Rabbi Ephraim Zalman of Margaliot (1761-1828) author of Beis Ephraim and Mateh Ephraim, and therefore he never accepted rabbinate, but he was a famous Halachic authorities in his generation and answered many responses in Halacha. In his hesped, the Chassam Sofer said of him: “He was of the greatest in the world, my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and their carrier. His teachings are easy to understand and every day his teachings are mentioned in our Bais Medrash from his compositions.”


Cracow 1629. 2 leaves – 4 complete pages, Condition: Other than generally light spots and some wear in good condition.

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