Arutz Sheva/By Shlomo Ben-Yissachar
Whether reading their biographies or reviewing their halachic responsa, rabbinical luminaries such as the Chasam Sofer or the Lubavitcher Rebbe instinctively pique the interests of many youngsters and adults alike. But there is a world of difference between reviewing a responsa within a printed sefer and actually holding the handwritten responsa penned by the aforementioned gedolim themselves.
Within the realm of today’s expanding world of Judaica memorabilia, it is possible to purchase rare, one-of-a-kind handwritten letters and responsa from rabbinical giants. Suffice to say, it is a unique investment that will increase in both monetary and spiritual value through the ages.
These documents are most often made available through auction houses such as Kedem, which has offices in Jerusalem and New York. During their forthcoming February 7th auction in Jerusalem, a myriad of letters, documents and response will be made available to the public.
Amongst the intriguing items up for sale from the ‘world of Chabad’ are:
*Proofreading leaves with notations and corrections in the handwriting of Rav Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, (the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe), prior to the printing of his revered sefer “Reshimot Al Megilat Eichah” in 1952. The printed sheets, which are cut into 7 long narrow strips are glosses and corrections written in pencil from the “Rebbe.”
*A Rosh Hashana letter written and signed by the Rebbe in Elul 1953, wishing klal yisroel a “Good Sweet Year, materially and spiritually.” He also wishes success in the study of revealed Torah and “Chabad.”
*Perhaps the most compelling ‘Chabad’ memorabilia is a collection of documents, which shed light on the efforts of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, (also known as the ‘Rayatz’) and his Rebbetzin Nechama Dina’s efforts to acquire U.S. citizenship in 1949. The collection contains official letters and documents from the archive of the Rebbe’s personal lawyer, who represented him in all matters related to the citizenship process. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, who arrived in the USA in 1940 from Europe at the outset of WWII, purchased the 770 building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn a few years later, and transformed the edifice into the center of Chabad Chassidism.
These types of auctions are not only once in a lifetime opportunities to study these rare documents but also an opportunity to actually possess a piece of our illustrious history.