VITAL, Hayyim (Safed; 1542-1620). Ets Chayyim (with the prefaces by Hayyim Vital and Meir Poppers, Sha'ar ha-Kelalim and the glosses by Meir Poppers and Jacob Zemah). MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER
[Copied by Jacob ben Judah Leib Shamash, Hamburg], 5494 (= 1734)
2o (375 x 235 mm). [1 blank] +  + 204 + [1 blank] leaves. Brown ink. Ashkenazic semi-cursive script, with square headings. Illustrated pen-and-ink architectural title-page, showing Moses (r.) and Aaron, both standing in front of a pillar, topped by King David within a baroque shield which is held by two angels, at the bottom a roundel holding the year of production, flanked by two female angels. (Severe ink corrosion in appromixately the first third of the manuscript, affecting the text, fols. 23 and 24 are torn as a result, with some loss of text, the 'tav' of the Hebrew date on the title-page damaged, otherwise browned, the larger part of the manuscript well legible.) Modern blind and gold-tooled brown morocco, two modern paper flyleaves at back and front, gilt edges, with gauffering.
Fols. rv: blank; r: title-page; v: blank; r-v: introductions; 1r-204v: text; rv: blank.
The identification of the scribe is based primarily on the execution of the title-page. This title-page occurs in a number of manuscripts by the Hamburg scribe Jacob ben Judah Leib Shamash (an example is a 1741 Haggadah in the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana in Amsterdam; Hs. Ros. 573). This scribe was active in Hamburg and Altona between 1717 and 1741 and some forty manuscripts signed by him are known to survive. The title-page may have been inspired by the title-page of the Frankfurt 1687 edition of the Yalkut Shimeoni (Vinograd, Thesaurus, p. 580, no. 72). The positive identification of the entire manuscript as the work of Jacob ben Judah Leib Shamash is based on the morphology of the Amsterdam Hebrew square letters that were used for the headings throughout the manuscript; these so-called 'Otiyyot Amsterdam' are clearly of Hamburg origin, and their almost perfect execution makes Jacob ben Judah Leib Shamash the only possible scribe. This identification is based on data retrieved from Dr. Emile Schrijver of Amsterdam's forthcoming 'Repertory of Decorated Hebrew Manuscripts of the Eighteenth Century'.
Daniel Itzig (stamped).
REFERENCES: Neubauer, no. 86, p. 28; Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jerusalem, F 4752.