Shabbat B' Shabbato
1402: Va'yishlach 14th of Kislev 5772 10/12/2011
|Something about books|
|The Unknown Commentator of the Mishna / Rabbi Yosef Leichter,|
The National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
The accepted date of the death of Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the editor of the Mishna, is the fifteenth of Kislev. In this article, we will discuss Rabbi Shlomo Adani, one of the most important commentators on the Mishna, who has still not achieved wide recognition by the public, four hundred years after he lived. The situation is aptly described by the phrase, "Everything depends on luck, including the Torah scroll in the ark" [Zohar, Bamidbar, page 134]. Rabbi Adani's commentary, "Melechet Shlomo," was written at about the same time as Tosafot Yom Tov, by Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller. But Tosafot Yom Tov was widely published during the lifetime of the author, on the same pages as the text of the Mishna, and it has been reprinted many times. On the other hand, Rabbi Adani's commentary was first published in Vilna about two hundred and fifty years after the death of the author. And even then it was printed at the back of the book of the Mishna, and not many people take the trouble to study it. Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller has many descendents who proudly carry his name and uphold his traditions, but Rabbi Shlomo Adani was not survived by any children.
Childhood and Youth
Rabbi Shlomo was born in Yemen in the year 5327 (1567). His father was Rabbi Yeshua, who was the rabbi of Sana'a, the capital of the country. In 5331 (1571), Rabbi Yeshua decided to leave Yemen and move to Eretz Yisrael. He started out with his wife, two sons, and a daughter. His wife, who suffered from the trip, passed away before they reached their destination. Rabbi Yeshua and his children settled in Tzefat, where the girl and one boy died. The bereaved father took his remaining son, Shlomo, and moved to Jerusalem. There Shlomo studied with Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi, the author of the book "Shita Mekubetzet," a commentary on the Talmud, and with Rabbi Chaim Vital, the disciple of the ARI. When Shlomo was fifteen his father passed away, and he remained, an orphan with no regular source of food. At that time the Chacham Moshe Alchami moved to Eretz Yisrael from Egypt, and he was both rich and kind. He saw the destitute boy and tried to get close to him. After a great effort, the boy agreed to move in with Chacham Moshe and to eat in his home. Chacham Moshe supported the young Shlomo for five years and took care of all of his needs. He also arranged a marriage for him.
After his marriage, Rabbi Shlomo moved to Chevron, and in this city too he did not have an easy time. When he was about thirty-three years old his first wife died, together with their daughter and two sons. Rabbi Shlomo married a second time and had two sons, who also died. In the introduction to his book, Rabbi Shlomo writes, "It is now the year 5379 (1519), and today I am fifty-two years old. And to this day I have not been privileged to have a son to follow my guidance..."
Rabbi Shlomo made his living by teaching young children. Part the day he kept free in order to study Torah. While he studied he wrote notes in the margins of the Mishna. This was the basis of his commentary, Melechet Shlomo. When he saw a copy of the commentary Tosafot Yom Tov which was printed in Prague in the years 5375-5377 (1615-1617), Rabbi Shlomo was not sure whether he should continue with his own commentary or not. In the end he decided not to stop his work but to make corrections on it. He rewrote his book, leaving out some parts and correcting others, and adding some new content, following in the footsteps of the Tosafot Yom Tov. There are several manuscripts of his work, and it is easy to see the differences from one version to another.
Rabbi Shlomo viewed his work as a collection of material that had been written previously by other commentators. This was similar to the work done by his mentor, Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi, whose book Shita Mekubetzet is a collection from the works of others who preceded him. Rabbi Shlomo's work is of great value in that it incorporates texts from many important manuscripts and notes by early and later rabbis that were available to him. For many years, Rabbi Shlomo's commentary remained in the form of a manuscript, and very few people knew of its existence. In his book about famous scholars, the Chida mentions Rabbi Shlomo and that "he wrote a great book about the Mishna by the name of Melechet Shlomo... We heard about many of the issues that he discussed, and we know about his great righteousness and his dedication to the Torah in spite of his great poverty." A manuscript belonging to the Jewish History Institute in Warsaw is copy number 267 of Melechet Shlomo, which was written during the years 5382-5384 (1622-1624), and it bears the signature of the Chida. This manuscript served as the basis for the Mishna that was published in the year 5646 (1886) by the Re'eim publishing house. It should be noted that the famous commentary of Rabbi Pinchas Kehati on the Mishna incorporates many of the ideas that appear in Melechet Shlomo.
Rabbi Shlomo evidently passed away about the year 5390 (1630). In 5391 an edition of the Mishna was printed in Amsterdam incorporating his notes, and his name is listed among the deceased.
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