Shabbetai ben Ẓevi Hirsch of Raszkow

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SHABBETAI BEN ẒEVI HIRSCH OF RASZKOW

SHABBETAI BEN ẒEVI HIRSCH OF RASZKOW (?–1757?), widely respected Lurianic kabbalist, a colleague of R. *Israel b. Eliezer Baal Shem Tov (Besht), who possessed expert knowledge of kabbalistic writings. He composed a siddur (prayerbook), with kavvanot (theurgic meditations) according to Isaac *Luria (completed mid-1750s; published in Korets, 1797 (3 vols.); Lemberg, 1866 (1 vol.), repr. Jerusalem 1980, 2005). This siddur also contains eight contemplative practices from the Besht. In addition, it has contemplative instructions of an ecstatic devotional nature not attested to in other East European Lurianic siddurim. One important theurgic variant in the kavvanot of the Silent Prayer (*Amidah) found in no other Lurianic Siddur, except for those of the Jerusalem kabbalistic school of R. Shalom *Sharabi, may suggest contact between these two schools of Lurianic Kabbalah, perhaps through the agency of R. Gershon of Kutov, the brother-in-law of the Besht, who took up residence in Israel in 1746 and traveled back and forth in the mid-1750s. A manuscript of R. Shabbetai's siddur was consulted by R. Asher Margolius when he prepared the Lurianic Kavvanot siddur used by the kloiz of Brody (Lvov, 1788, repr. Jerusalem 1980, 2005, fol. 3a–b). The Lemberg edition of the Raszkower siddur contains glosses from two prominent 19th-century ḥasidic kabbalists: R. Israel of Kozhnitz and R. Ẓevi of Zhidachov. In 1995, a manuscript facsimile of vol. 1 of the Raszkower siddur was published. Completed in 1760 by R. Abraham Samson of Raszkow, son of R. *Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, the primary recorder of the teachings of the Besht, it contained one of the eight aforementioned teachings. The Korets, 1784–5 edition of the classic theurgic Lurianic work, Pri Eẓ Ḥayyim, was published from a manuscript with R. Shabbetai's glosses. In addition, R. Shabbetai re-edited a Lurianic work entitled Seder Kelalut Tikkun ve-Aliyyat ha-Olamot (Lvov, 1788; previously published in Sefer ha-Gilgulim, ed. R. David Gruenhaut; Frankfurt, 1684). Also extant from his hand are five manuscripts of classic Lurianic works such as Mevo ha-She'arim and Eẓ Ḥayyim. He copied these between 1748 and 1756. The work copied in 1756 was incomplete and was finished by another scribe in 1759. Also, extant is an epistle discussing fine points of scribal law written by R. Gershon of Kutov, and copied in 1755 by R. Shabbetai at the behest of the Besht. It was later published in the rare Responsa, Mishne Avraham (Zhitomir, 1868).

bibliography:

A.J. Heschel, "Rabbi Gershon Kutover: His Life and Immigration to the Land of Israel," in: S.H. Dresner (ed.), The Circle of the Baal Shem Tov (1985), 44–113, especially 83–89 and note 187, and 107–8); M. Kallus, "The Relation of the Baal Shem Tov to the Practice of Lurianic Kavvanot in Light of his Comments in the Siddur Rashkov," in: Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts, vol. 2 (1997), 151–69; idem, "The Theurgy of Prayer in the Lurianic Kabbalah" (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2002, 280–84.