StorageSiteUCL Special Collections
Reference Number MS MOCATTA/52
TitleOtserot Hayyim
DescriptionManuscript of the cabbalistic work Otserot Hayyim; includes a few marginal notes
Extent103 folios
AdminHistoryBorn Safed(?), son of Joseph Vital Calabrese, a scribe, 1542; studied in yeshivot in Safed, especially under Moses Alshekh; began to study Cabbala in 1564; also attracted to other esoteric studies and spent two years in the practice of alchemy, 1563-1565; the principal disciple of Isaac Luria, 1570-1572; after Luria's death he began to arrange his teachings in written form and to elaborate on them according to his own understanding; moved to Jerusalem, where he served as rabbi and head of a yeshivah, 1577-1585; returned to Safed, 1586-1592; ordained as rabbi by Moses Alshekh, 1590; he was in Jerusalem once more in 1593 and perhaps stayed there several years, returning to Safed from time to time; moved to Damascus, c1598, and remained there until his death, for a time serving as rabbi of the Sicilian community; after a severe illness in 1604, his sight was impaired and at times he was even blind; during his final years a cabbalistic group gathered around him; strained relations existed between Vital and Jacob Abulafia, one of the rabbis in Damascus, who doubted Vital's claims to be the sole interpreter of Lurianic Cabbala; married at least three times; died 1620. Works include a commentary on the Zohar according to the system of Cordovero (published in Abraham Azulai's 'Or ha-Hamah', 1896-1898); 'Sefer Ets ha-Da'at' (written c1563-1575); 'Sha'are Kedushah' (first published 1734); 'Lev David' (first published 1789); 'Sefer ha-Hezyonot' (assembled c1609-1612, first published 1826 as 'Shivhe R. Hayim Vital'); 'Sefer ha-Tekhunah' on astronomy (published 1866); 'Ets Hayim' (first published 1863-1898); 'Sefer ha-Derushim'; 'Sefer ha-Kavanot'; 'Sefer ha-Likutim'; from these writings Jacob Zemah arranged several books, such as 'Otserot Hayim' (1783); 'Adam Yashar' (1885) and 'Olat Tamid' (1850); another version of Vital's system was discovered and published as 'Mevo She'arim' or 'Toldot Adam' (first published 1783); the final edition of Vital's writings was arranged by Meir Poppers (completed 1653), and entitled 'Sefer Derekh Ets Hayim', 'Sefer Peri Ets Hayim' and 'Sefer Nof Ets Hayim'; Vital's writings exercised their main influence on cabbalists through manuscript copies, despite the fact that all his works were later published several times.
CustodialHistoryPart of the De Sola collection. Formerly held with other Jewish collections in the Mocatta Library of University College London.
AcquisitionTransferred from the Mocatta Library (subsequently the Jewish Studies Library) of University College London.
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.
Related MaterialBound with MS MOCATTA 53
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