Alter Rebbe’s Son’s Sefer Gifted to the Rebbe’s Library

A sefer that contains handwritten notes by the Alter Rebbe‘s son Reb Moshe, and belonged to members of his family, was gifted to the Rebbe’s library in honor of Hey Teves and the birthday of Rabbi Shmuly Butler

By reporter

A sefer that contains handwritten notes by the Alter Rebbe‘s son Reb Moshe, and belonged to members of his family, was gifted to the Rebbe’s library.

The sefer was the Kopust, 1811 edition of Toras Habayis, a sefer of Halacha authored by the Rashba. The sefer, which deals with the halachos of kashrus, ta’aruvos, yayin nesach, netilas yodaim and hilchos taharah is divided into seven “batim” – houses, and subdivided into “sheorim” – gates.

This copy of the sefer contains handwritten notes, as well as the stamp of Rav Yekusiel Zalman, son-in-law of the Mitteler Rebbe, and an inscription saying that it had belonged to Rebbetzin Shifra, wife of Reb Moshe, son of the Alter Rebbe. The latter inscription described her as being from Lubavitch, where she moved after her husband’s arrest and exile. She later moved with her children to Eretz Yisroel, with the bracha of the Tzemach Tzedek.

After passing hands many times throughout the generations, the sefer was located by Rabbi Shmuly Butler of Crown Heights a few weeks ago. Rabbi Butler has a personal custom of presenting a gift to the Rebbe’s library each year in honor of Hey Teves. In previous years, he presented a handwritten letter from the Rogatchover Gaon and a postcard from the Michas Elazar of Munkatz.

This year, ahead of Hey Teves, he approached seforim dealers to find another such gift, and was offered the abovementioned sefer, being that it had belonged to Beis Harav – the family of the Rebbeim. After examining it, he agreed to purchase it for the library.

He then showed it to Rabbi Eli Matusof, a scholar who published a number of Sifrei Chassidus from manuscripts in Reb Moshe’s handwriting. Rabbi Matusof was extremely excited to see the sefer, and confirmed that the handwritten notes were written by Reb Moshe.

He shared that the library has several other books that had been owned by Reb Moshe and had his handwritten notes inside. The handwriting of the notes matched up, and the style of the notes, short and concise, also matched the style of the notes in the other seforim.

After the sefer was purchased by Rabbi Butler, he displayed it at Hey Teves book fairs in Oholei Torah and Lubavitch Yeshiva. He told the students of the Rebbe’s desire for seforim to be donated to the library, and the uniqueness of this sefer, and who it had belonged to.

This past Shabbos, he placed the sefer on the Rebbe’s desk in his room in 770. On Monday, he brought a group of students from Oholei Torah with him to bring it to the Rebbe’s library next door.

He gave the sefer to Chief Librarian Rabbi Berel Levin, who received it warmly. Rabbi Butler showed him some of the annotations by Reb Moshe, and the children got a chance to handle the sefer and see them as well.

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