2 Heshvan 5778
22 October 2017
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London School of Jewish Studies

The works of the Maharshal

This week on the 7th of November is the “Jahrzeit” (anniversary of death) of the Maharshal, Rabbi Shlomo ben Jechiel Luria (Poznan, Poland 1510 – Lublin, Poland 1574). He was an authoritative posek & halachist and Talmudic commentator.

The Maharshal is well known through his work of Halacha: “Yam shel Shlomo” and his Talmudic Commentary: “Chochmat Shlomo“. He authored Responsa which are of great historic importance as they reflect the social and cultural circumstances of the Jews of Poland and Lithuania at that time.

In the Rare Book Room of the Library at LSJS we find several editions of the Maharshal’s works which include the “Yam shel Shlomo“, printed in 1766 in Furth, and “Chochmat Shlomo“, printed in Amsterdam in 1691 by the famous printer Joseph Athias (who printed from 1658 till 1693).maharshal-2

This particular volume of “Chochmat Shlomo” belonged to Moses Mendes da Costa – also known as Anthony da Costa – a well-known 18th century English banker. He was the son of Jacob da Costa who came from Portugal to England with his family in 1655. Moses married Leonora (Rachel) Mendes, a sister of Fernandez Mendes the Marrano physician of King John IV of Portugal. Moses died in 1747.

The title page of this copy of “Chochmat Shlomo” has handwriting which shows that Moses ben Jacob Mendes da Costa acquired the book in 1733.