Haggadah shel Pesach with Zevach Pesach Commentary by The Abarbanel. First Edition. Constantinople, 1506.

Passover Haggadah with commentary by Don Yitzchak Abarbanel. This rare edition of the Haggadah was printed in Constantinople, Turkey over 500 years ago! It is one of the first printed Haggadot ever, and
the first published with a commentary.

The foreword to this Haggadah features fascinating historical content in the course of which the Abarbanel recounts his turbulent life story. Beginning with his flight from his native Portugal to Spain and rise to glory and fame in Spain, he continues with the tragic expulsion of Spanish Jewry and his exile to Naples, Italy from where he was also forced to flee after Naples was conquered by France.

This is the first edition of Abarbanel׳s commentary on the Haggadah printed in Constantinople, 1506.
during the author’s lifetime.
The Abarbanel’s commentary is divided into 4 units:
  1. Meah Shearim – 100 questions that the Abarbanel poses at the start of the Haggadah
  2. Commentary– Resolutions to all the above questions
  3. Leil Shimurim – Summary of halachos of the Pesach seder based on customs of Sephardic Jewry
  4. Conclusion – Philosophical essay illuminating the mitzvos of Pesach and the seder night.
Constantinople, 1506. First edition. [40 leaves] Page size: 26.5 cm. Printed originally sans title page along with Rosh Amana and Nachalas Avos, also by the Abarbanel. The first page features a poem by his son Yehudah Abarbanel surrounded by a decorative border. Page [6] has minor tears and stains, but all text is intact.
High-quality white paper. Good condition. Rare.

Bibliography: Yaari. Haggados #3. Yudelov. Otzar Hahaggados #5. Yaari. Constantinople #3. Stefansky Jewish Classics #451.

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The Story of the Passover Haggadah 
Jews around the world, near and far, spanning the spectrum of affiliations and cultural backgrounds join together on one auspicious night each year. Young and old, grandparents, children and grandchildren sit together joyfully around the table to recite the Haggadah shel Pesach, recounting the story of the Exodus and birth of the Jewish nation.
It is thus no wonder that the Passover Haggadah was the most popularly-printed book in Jewish publishing history. A. Yaari, leading Hebrew bibliographer, published a list of over four thousand different editions of the Haggadah printed before World War Two. Most Haggadot did not survive, mainly because they were used extensively on the seder night, enduring the typical wine spills which caused rapid deterioration to its text and pages, and were eventually sent to the local genizah.
The Passover Haggadah was printed repeatedly over the centuries in countries around the world, in a wide range of illustrated and non-illustrated editions, with and without commentaries.
The first known post-incunable edition was the Haggadah printed in Constantinople in 1506. To be more precise, this Haggadah is now 515 years old!
Where was this Haggadah throughout the years? How did this book survive 515 years of exile in such beautiful condition?
Against all odds, this Haggadah endured. It witnessed times of joy and tragedy, persecution and triumph, book burnings, pogroms and expulsions, and thus symbolizes the essence of the Jewish Passover in a profoundly meaningful way.
Imagine the journey of this Haggadah across half a millennia… Closing our eyes, we envision a Jew in Constantinople, Turkey five hundred years ago, reading aloud from this Haggadah to his family. Fifty years later, a passing Jewish traveller may have brought this Haggadah with him to Poland, uttering the very same words at his Pesach seder as the previous Turkish owner. This Haggadah may have been shared by a Jewish family in Egypt, Holland, or even distant Barbados, taking refuge from the Inquisition. It may have been hidden beneath a floorboard or whispered in a dark bunker by a Jew hiding from the Nazis.
Together, they all declare with conviction and hope:
“Vehi she׳amda! And it is this (the Torah) that has stood by our ancestors and for us…"
When singing ׳Vehi she׳amda׳ from this Haggadah you׳re connecting to all the previous generations who sang before you from this very Haggadah. This seder night, you join together in a sacred choir of Jews in different lands and time capsules, in a breathtaking period spanning 500 years of all prayer and belief!
“For not only one (enemy) has risen up against us to destroy us.
But in every generation they rise up to destroy us.
But the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands.”
This 515 year old Haggadah exemplifies the miracle of our salvation!

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