by Fabrizio Quaglia

This is the second in a series of posts by Fabrizio Quaglia on his ongoing work collecting Footprints and other data from the collection of David Kaufmann, now at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. As Quaglia notes, the collection is multilayered, revealing libraries within libraries.

Abraham Joseph Salomon Graziano (1619-1685)

Mevakesh H. with Graziano inscription (Venice 1596, f. 1v. [Kaufmann B 413] )

The Mantuan origin of the owners of many of the items in the Kaufmann library is of course not the only geographical point of departure from which it grew. The provenance of at least fourteen 16th-17th century Hebrew books (with more identified through ongoing work) that belonged to Avraham Yosef Šelomoh Graṣiano of Pesaro (Abraham Joseph Salomon Graziano; 1619-1685) takes us to Modena, where he was rabbi since 1647 after having moved there in 1635. Graziano created one of the largest Jewish libraries of the time: circa 4,000 volumes. This library has been dispersed in various libraries (more than two thirds outside Italy), including private ones. Today only around 200 manuscripts (11 in the Kaufmann collection), and about a hundred books, often annotated by him have been identified. Graziano signed his volumes in Hebrew with the initials of his and his father’s names, אי”ש ג”ר. Graziano was a cousin of Netan’el b. Binyamin Ṭraboṭ (1576-1653), his colleague in Modena, from whom he inherited about 70 printed and handwritten items. In one of his manuscripts[1], Graziano recorded the volumes he bought during the time – indicating from whom he purchased and how much he paid it. His lists, however, are incomplete and sometimes incorrect since certain books that are in the Kaufmann collection are absent there, and apparently he attributed more than one purchase to a mistaken seller.[2]


The same is true regarding to what Graziano wrote about the provenance on the volumes themselves. An example is his copy (Kaufmann B 413; only edition) of Mevakesh ha-Shem, an exegetical work by the Moroccan rabbi Shemu’el Ḥagiz (d. 1634), published in Venice in 1596. On it Graziano wrote that he bought it from משה טילייו (“Mosheh Telio”) in 1649 in Modena [figure 12]. It seems that the only source concerning this Moise Teglio (this would presumably have been his Italian name) is the list of books that Graziano purchased from him,[3] and from Graziano’s notes on the items themselves, where in most of cases is mentioned as טיליאו (Tigliao?). Sometimes Graziano also clarified that Moise Teglio was רומנו (“Romano,” ie. from Rome, or of Roman origin). According to his own list Graziano got from M. Teglio Mevakesh ha-Shem for three Modenese lire and a half on 8 July 1649 together with Davar Shemu’el, a traditional rabbinical commentary by the same author, printed at the same place and in the same year. Graziano also listed to have bought for seven Modenese lire a little worn copy of a complete edition, printed in Cracow and commented by the Polish rabbi Mosheh b. Yiśra’el Isserleś (1527?-1572), of Shulḥan ‘Arukh by Yosef Karo. Graziano seems to be confused here since his note of purchase of this book from Teglio in 1649 is on f. 3v of Kaufmann B 812, corresponding to the Hanau 1627 edition. A third book is the Yede Mosheh, acquired from Teglio in June or July 1649 for two and a half Modenese lire. Perhaps it is the edition published in Saloniki in 1571, or in Venice in 1597. In any case Graziano affirmed in Kaufmann B 413 to have purchased it for an expensive price together with Mevakesh ha-Shem.[4]

In November/December 1660, Graziano acquired a copy of the reference book on the 613 commandments titled `Avodat ha-Levi, Venice 1546 (Kaufmann B 626) from Rabbi Menaḥem Shabbetai, son of the late rabbi Kanaruṭi..[5] On the title page of this volume, Graziano wrote an additional four titles but it is not sure that he had all of them from M. S. Kanaruṭi. They are: Yefeh nof a miscellany of documents by the Greek poet rabbi Yehudah Zarqo (fl. 16th century), Venice, ca. 1572;[6] Tsori ha-yagon, a work on resignation and fortitude under misfortune by the Spanish philosopher, poet and commentator Šem Ṭov b. Yosef Falaquera (ca. 1225-ca. 1295), edited in Cremona in 1550 and in Prague in 1612; the poem Sefer Taḥkemoni, Constantinople 1578, by the Spanish translator, poet and traveler rabbi Yehudah b. Šelomoh al-Ḥarizi (1170-1235); Ohel Mo‘ed. Members of Canaruti/Cannaruti (so in Italian documents) family were registered in Ferrara in 1630 but no longer in the census of 1692. A Salvator/Salvador Cannaruti was active in Modena as haberdasher in 1692-1693 and a certain Vitale son of the late Moisè Cannaruti lived in the Modenese ghetto in 1670.[7]

Acquisition information by Graziano, ‘Avodat ha-kodesh, printed in Cracow in 1577 (Kaufmann B 627)

Similarly, in the case of the ‘Avodat ha-kodesh, printed in Cracow in 1577 (Kaufmann B 627; first edition) – Graziano declared on the front flyleaf that he purchased the book on 20 September 1676 for 18 lire of Modena along with the untraced Shefa ṭal (Hanau 1612) – from the seller Yitshak son of Samue’el Oka (this is likely the Italian rendering of the Hebrew surname אוקא) of Prague.  This Yitshak is totally unknown to the scholars, though he is clearly named. Graziano also purchased from this Yitshak and from rabbi יהודא טיפליץ Yehuda Ṭipliṣ (Töplitz) son of Ya‘akov from Praga the only edition of ‘Emek ha-Melekh, printed in Amsterdam in 1648 (now in Jerusalem, National Library of Israel, shelf-number 75A1003). He paid for it a golden doppia on 20 September 1676.[8] It is possible that “Praga” does not refer to Prague, the Czech capital, but to Praga, a small, historic town which was attached to Warsaw in 1791. On the other hand, Graziano may have written פראגא and not the more usual פראגה perhaps because he simply transcribed it in Hebrew as it appears in Italian. Certainly, during the 17th century, Modena was a well-known and popular intellectual center frequented by scholars, moving even from abroad and in particular from Prague. On 8 August 1674 Graziano bought another book from from Y. Töplitz: the chronicle Tsemaḥ David (Prague 1592) for 12 paoli. This book is now in the Civic Teresiana Library of Mantua (shelf-number II.D.6).[9]

We do not know how Graziano’s volumes came to Kaufmann despite some signs of later owners that appear on books that belonged to him, because in turn those traces are unclear. On the title page of Y. Isserlein’s Be’urim, Venice 1519 (Kaufmann B 101) there is also the cursive Hebrew signature in Ashkenazi script, possibly datable to the 17th-century, of a Mosheh Lifshits – whose name and last surname are too common to identify him for sure – but apart from the censor’s note by friar Luigi da Bologna written in 1601 at the end of the book, nothing else is visible.

Lastly, according to the ms. Guenzburg 343, f. 125b, p. 24, Graziano bought a copy of Leshon limmudim (Constantinople, 1542, Kaufmann B 394) from the polyglot Christian Hebraist cavalier Antonio Calori, for two and a half Modenese lire, along with two books not kept in the Kaufmann collection: Livyat ḥen (Mantua 1557), and Sefer ‘Arugat ha-bośem, printed in Venice in 1602 (Kaufmann B 645 is a different copy). A. Calori had a valuable library, from which Graziono purchased 33 Hebrew books (including two incunables) and five Hebrew mss from him in the 1650s.

Other Emilian owners

Leaving Modena and Graziano, we come to Carpi, in the province of Modena. A Hebrew-Latin copy of Kalendariū Hebraicum by the German Humanist Sebastian Münster (1489-1552), Basel 1527 (Kaufmann B 286; only edition), belonged to the Catholic order of the Capuchins of Carpi. Maybe this is the reason why the Lutheran author’s name has been erased (but not from his “Epistola nuncupatoria”, nor from p. 1); even the place of printing, the Protestant city of Basel, has been erased (but not from colophon). One can notice that unidentified hands wrote rare Latin glosses on the Hebrew part of the text (as well as on the Latin part) and many cursive Hebrew marginal annotations and calculations on the Hebrew text, and added some Hebrew leaves.

At the end of the second volume of the Frankfurt am Main 1699-1700 edition of Sefer rav Alfas (Kaufmann B 73.2) there is a Hebrew signature by Yitshak son of the honorable teacher and rabbi Mordekhai Soliani followed by his worn-out 17th-century Italian signature “Isac di Marco Sogliani”. One might guess that he lived in Reggio Emilia during the eighteenth century, comparing the Hebrew owner’s note on Kaufmann B 73.2 with the Hebrew calligraphy on the title page of the fourth volume of a copy of the Fürth 1741 edition of Mishnah (in the Biblioteca comunale Teresiana of Mantua, shelf-number I.A.1), which is very similar: “Yiṣḥaq Soliani of Reggio 5544 from Creation [C.E.: 1784] [son] of Mordekhai Soliani, may his Rock keep him and grant him life”.[10]

A certain Refa’el Rovigo presumably lived in Reggio, too. He signed Tiqqun Shovavim, a group of penitential prayers that Mosheh b. Mordeḵay Zacuto (ca. 1620-1697) published in 1674 in Mantua (Kaufmann B 1043; first edition). Information about R. Rovigo is very sparse. In the Hebrew register (at Centro Bibliografico dell’Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane of Rome[11]) listing the 25 circumcisions made during the years 1730-1733 by Natan b. Shelomoh Kohen of Reggio Emilia, we read that Refa’el Rovigo on 19 June 1731 was sandak in Reggio of Shemu’el, son of a certain Yishma’el Liuṣi (Liuzzi)[12]. This Refa’el Rovigo is not to be confused with Refa’el Mikha’el Rovigo, father of the known kabbalist and Sabbatian Avraham Rovigo of Modena (c. 1650-1714), as some sources alleged.[13]

The same Hebrew inscription as in Kaufmann B 1043, “Higia‘ le-ḥeleq na‘aleh k.m.ha.R. Refa’el Rovigo” can be found on the title page of six auctioned Hebrew books:

1) The first edition of the ethical Beit Midot by the Roman scholar Yeḥi’el b. Yequti’el Anav, printed in Constantinople in 1511; sold in New York on 4 December 2003[14]

2) The second edition with commentaries of Sha’are Dura, a rabbinic code on ritual salting, dietary and menstrual laws and more, by the German Yiṣḥaq b. Me’ir of Düren, Venice 1548; sold in New York on 7 November 2019. (The same copy had already been auctioned and sold there on 18 December 2008)[15]

3) The third edition of Toldot Yitsḥaq by Y. Qaro, that is a concise Torah commentary, Riva di Trento 1558; it was sold in New York on 27 October 2010[16]

4) The first edition (Cremona 1576) of Yosef Lakaḥ – a commentary on the Book of Esther by the Greek physician Eli‘ezer Aškenazi (1512-1585), rabbi of Cremona; whose incomplete copy was sold on 11 July 2016 in Jerusalem with three other 17th-century Hebrew books[17]

5) The first edition (Venice 1697) of Darkei no’am, a collection of responsa by the Egyptian rabbi Mordekhai b. Yehudah ha-Levi (ca. 1600- ca. 1684); sold with six other books of responsa in Jerusalem on 24 June 2010[18]

6) The only edition (Venice 1730) of Meliṣ Yotser, explanations of the penitential liturgy written by the Paduan rabbi Isaia Romanin (1690/1695-1769); sold in Jerusalem on 8 April 2019.[19]

Inside the back cover of 1698 Amsterdam edition (Kaufmann B 634) of ‘En Yiśra’el, one can read the owner’s penciled cropped note of another Jew from Emilia: “Giuseppe Fin[zi] [?] di Correggio … … 1839”. Maybe he was Giuseppe Finzi buried in the Jewish cemetery of Correggio (near Reggio Emilia). G. Finzi was a son of a Samuele Finzi and died on 21 June 1885 at 70.[20] It is less likely that the person who signed this popular book is Giuseppe Finzi, son of Salomone, born on 19 April 1828 and died on 24 October 1902.[21]

The above-mentioned Menorat ha-Ma’or by Y. Aboab (Kaufmann B 498) was also owned in 1859 by a Pio son of Abramo Finzi. Considering that on the title page there is a Hebrew purchase note possibly belonging to the 18th-century, by an undetermined Binyamin Ben Ṣiyyon David of Ferrara, perhaps the owner of Kaufmann B 498 could be a landowner Pio son of Abramo Finzi born in Ferrara. In the years 1887-1888, when his father Abramo was already dead, Pio was a secretary and counsellor in the Banca Mutua Popolare of Ferrara. In 1889, he wrote articles in the “Gazzetta di Ferrara” in which he advocated the use of the Monte di Pietà of Ferrara also for a pawn loan on behalf of raw hemp traders; they would leave their products in Monte di Pietà warehouses. His proposal was refused.[22]

[1] Ms. Guenzburg 343 in the Russian State Library of Moscow, ff. 116v-131r, 148r-154v, corresponding to pp. 6-35, 69-86

[2] The Jewish Encyclopedia, VI, New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1904, p. 84; Salomone Jona, Abraham Salomon Graziani, poète hébreu du XVII siècle, “Revue des études juives”, III, 1882, 4, p. 119; M. Perani, Il manoscritto ebraico come fonte per la storia sociale degli ebrei, “Materia Giudaica”, IX, 2004, 1-2, pp. 81 e 91; Marisa Allocati Càssola, Una famiglia di ebrei erranti: i Graziani da Ascoli a Modena 1604-1871, “Materia Giudaica”, XV-XVI, 2010-2011, pp. 519, 522-524.

[3] (on f. 123r, p. 19 of the cited ms. Guenzburg 343)

[4] An additional purchase from Teglio not listed in MS Guenzburg 343, is a collection of responsa by Mošeh b. Avraham Provinṣali, acquired on 23 March 1649 – now cataloged as MS. Mich. Add. 36 at Oxford, Bodleian Libraries; Graziano’s note is on f. 18r.

[5]   Menahem Shabbetai recorded a list of 30 items (manuscripts and books) of Yitṣḥak b. Shemu’el Sanguini sold in Modena to Graziano from Sanguini’s widow Ṣipporah and his heirs (See MS Guenzburg 343, f. 127v, p. 28). Fifty Hebrew books owned by the merchant Isach Sanguini (also called Isaac Sanguine and Isacco Sanguineti) were sequestered in Modena in 1636, and himself arrested on the order of the Inquisition, cf. M. Perani, Confisca e censura di libri ebraici a Modena fra Cinque e Seicento, pp. 305-307, 319 (note 74), in L’Inquisizione e gli ebrei in Italia; a cura di Michele Luzzati, Roma; Bari, Laterza, 1994. Maybe he was the mentioned Yiṣḥak b. Shemu’el Sanguini, although the list in Moscow and the one in Archivio di Stato di Modena. Inquisizione, Causae Hebraeorum, busta 247, fascicolo 25, do not match but of course the confiscated volumes might not constitute the full library of I. Sanguini.

[6] The two corresponding Kaufmann items, B 334 and B 416, did not belong to Graziano. The first copy has no trace of  usage, the second one was owned by Menaḥem Qarmi. The absence of a patronymic and a place does not allow to identify with certainty M. Qarmi. He owned more books kept in the Kaufmann collection, including the above- mentioned Kaufmann B 415, and two manuscripts showing his basic signature: 1) the 16th-century Ms. Kaufmann A 170, i.e. the Talmudic ZeraAvraham (“The seed of Abraham”) by Avraham b. Menaḥem Rovigo (b. 1504), a controversial rabbi of Ferrara; 2) the Ms. Guenzburg 327, which is an 18th-century Leḥem ha-Panim (“Showbread”) by Yiṣḥaq b. Šemu’el Levi Valle (d. 1680), rabbi in Verona and Modena, discussing various passages of the first section of Šulḥan Aruby Y. Qaro titled Oraḥ Ḥayyim (“Way of Life”).

[7] Laura Graziani Secchieri, «In casa d’Amadio Sacerdoti lui medesimo d’anni 35». Il censimento del ghetto di Ferrara del 1692, in Ebrei a Ferrara. Ebrei di Ferrara. Aspetti culturali, economici e sociali della presenza ebraica a Ferrara (secc. XIII-XX). Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi (Ferrara 3-4 ott. 2013) Fondazione Museo Nazionale dell’Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah; a cura di Laura Graziani Secchieri, Firenze, Giuntina, 2014, p. 102; Federica Francesconi, Invisible Enlighteners. The Jewish Merchants of Modena, from the Renaissance to the Emancipation, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021, pp. 131, 138, 143, 145-146, 281 (note 21).

[8] A doppia was a coin initially with a value of two gold scudi minted in Italy from the mid-16th century to the beginning of the 19th century.

[9] Giulio Busi, Libri ebraici a Mantova. Volume primo. Le edizioni del XVI secolo nella biblioteca della Comunità ebraica, Fiesole, Cadmo, 1996, pp. 101-102, no. 120; M. Allocati Càssola, p. 523. The paolo was a silver pontifical coin.

[10] G. Busi, Libri ebraici a Mantova. Volume secondo. Le edizioni del XVII, XVIII, e XIX secolo nella biblioteca della comunità ebraica, Fiesole, Cadmo, 1996, no. 424, p. 270.

[11] Previously kept at the Library of the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano in Florence, ms. 111

[12] Circumcision no. 12 on f. 31v

[13] Gershom Scholem, Rovigo, Abraham ben Michael, in Encyclopedia Judaica, XIV, Jerusalem, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, cols. 355-356; Riccardo Di Segni, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of the Library of the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano, Rome, Ramat-Gan, 1990, no. 10.18, p. 159; Angelo Piattelli, Il Registro di un Mohel reggiano del Settecento (1730-1733), “La Rassegna Mensile di Israel”, LVII, 1991, 3, pp. 490, 493, 497, 502;

[14] Kestenbaum, Auction 21. Hebrew Printed Books and Manuscripts. Selections from the Rare Book Room of The JewsCollege Library, London, New York, 2003, lot 19, <>;

[15] Kestenbaum, Auction 42. Fine Judaica. Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, Graphic & Ceremonial Art, New York, Kestenbaum, 2008, lot 176, p. 45, <>; Kestenbaum, Auction 85. Fine Judaica. Printed Books, Manuscripts, Graphic & Ceremonial Art, New York, Kestenbaum, 2019, lot 162, p. 80, <>.

[16] Kestenbaum, Auction 49. Fine Judaica, Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters and Graphic Art, New York, Kestenbaum, 2010, lot 202, p. 49, <>;

[17] Kedem, Auction 51. Part I. Books Chassidism Manuscripts Rabbinical Letters, Jerusalem, Keterpress Enterprises, 2016, lot 41, p. 31, <>;

[18] Kedem, Auction 10 Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical Letters, Jerusalem, 2010, lot 163, p. 93, <>;

[19] Winner’s Auctions Ltd, Auction 113. Illustrious Personalities, Holocaust & Anti-Semitism, Historic Documents, Art, Seforim, Letters from Rabbis and Rebbes & manuscripts, Jerusalem, 2019, lot 186, <>;

[20] Il cimitero ebraico di Correggio. Le iscrizioni in ebraico; a cura di A. Contri e Gabriele Fabbrici, Correggio, Comune di Correggio, 2007, pp. 27-28. The Hebrew tombstone, a little corroded by time, of Giuseppe Finzi is visible here <>.

[21] This information is taken from <>.

[22] “Bollettino ufficiale delle società per azioni”, VII, 1899, 14, pp. 93-96, 101; Pietro Sitta, I Monti di Pietà in Italia (a proposito del secondo Congresso nazionale delle opere pie di Firenze), Roma, Tip. dell’Unione cooperativa editrice, 1893, p. 21.

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