A Kabbalistic manuscript that was owned by the Rebbe Rashab and held by the Russian government before disappearing and showing up on auction, was returned to its rightful place in the Rebbe’s library.
By Anash.org reporter
A Kabbalistic manuscript that was owned by the Rebbe Rashab and held by the Russian government before disappearing and showing up on auction, was returned to its rightful place in the Rebbe’s library after months of international efforts.
The manuscript in question is of the work ‘Meshivas Nefesh’ authored by the mekubal Rav Yaakov Tzemach. For hundreds of years, the work remained unprinted and was only published recently, in 2012. This manuscript of the book was owned by the Rebbe Rashab and later by the Frierdiker Rebbe, and has a label that says reading “Otzar Sifrei Kodesh sheneasaf al yedei Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, Lubavitch” — collection of holy books, collected by [Rebbe] Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, Lubavitch.
This manuscript also has a most interesting letter appended to it. This letter details and sheds some light on the efforts expended by the Rebbe Rashab to publish Meshivas Nefesh, and attests to The Rashab’s ownership of the manuscript. The letter was written by Rabbi Yaakov Meir ben Shlomo Zalman Grodenski, Rov in Minsk, in 1903.
In February of this year, the book was put up for auction. Immediately after hearing about it, Agudas Chassidei Chabad filed an emergency motion for the issuance of a letter of request for international judicial assistance in the United States court. The letter would ask for the Israeli government to help stop the sale of the stolen book.
Within a short amount of time, United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth sent the order, asking the Israeli authorities for their “judicial assistance to obtain information,” requesting that “the matter be handled on an expedited basis to the extent feasible under Israeli law and practice.”
A letter was also sent to the TAJ Art auction house, which was set to auction off the book, by Aguch’s lawyer Steven Lieberman, asking them to remove the book from auction.
After another few days of intense efforts, the sefer was taken off of auction, followed by negotiations between the auction house, Israeli authorities and Aguch.
Finally, this week, it was returned to its rightful place in the Rebbe’s library.
“The incident underscores the need for the seforim to be returned to the Rebbe’s library as soon as possible,” one of those involved told Anash.org. “After all, we hear the Russians claim that they need to keep the library for their national heritage, but we keep finding books popping up on auctions.”
“This shows that, in reality, the Russian government couldn’t care less for the library, and it must be returned to its proper place,” he said.