Rare 254-Year-Old Manuscript Turns Up in Bnei Brak Home

Photos by: Brand Auction House

A 254-year-old Nusach Arizal siddur written by the Baal Shem Tov’s student and mekubal R’ Shabsi of Rashkov, the copy of which was used by the Rabbeim at the seder and during tekios, was discovered in a collector’s home in Bnei Brak.

By Anash.org reporter

A remarkable handwritten siddur, dating back to 1770, was recently found in Bnei Brak. The siddur was written by a talmid of the Ba’al Shem Tov, R’ Shabsi of Rashkov, and is the cornerstone of the Arizal Siddur. This is the “Siddur R’ Shabsi of Rashkov” that we know that the Tzemach Tzedek, Rebbe Rashab, and Rebbe used for Hagaddah and tekios.

The 237-page handwritten manuscript was discovered in the home of the grandson of a book collector who bought the original document in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was written by R’ Shabsi in 1770 and is the foundation to the siddur that was then published 24 years later in 1794. R’ Shabsi was a well-known mekubal who wrote many seforim on Kabbalah and Chassidus. The siddur is a pivotal work of Chassidus and is used as a primary reference for chassidishe minhagim in tefila.

When discussing the differences between other siddurim of Nusach Ari and the Alter Rebbe’s chosen nusach, the Rebbe shared that among all the siddurim of the Nusach Arizal, R’ Shabsi’s was seen to be the most accurate and the Alter Rebbe’s nusach is closest to it.

After he immigrated from Europe, the original book collector sent the manuscript to Eretz Yisroel. His grandson inherited it and had it in his home for many years, until recently when he hosted Rabbi Hanoch Brand, proprietor of Brand Auction House in Bnei Brak, who realized what it was. It was then brought to Rabbi Yitzchak Yeshaya Weiss, an expert in identifying and authenticating manuscripts and signatures, who confirmed its authenticity.

The manuscript is due to be auctioned off publicly next Sunday, with bidding starting at $150,000. Interestingly, an early print version of this siddur was previously auctioned off for $107,000.

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