This text was prepared by William Gross:
The renowned multipartite ethical and kabbalistic work by R. Isaiah b. Abraham ha-Levi Horowitz (“Ha-Shelah ha-Kadosh”). The work exerted great influence upon the life of Jews of Eastern Europe and helped more than any other book to introduce the Kabbala in daily religious life.
R. Horowitz (c.1565 to 1630) lived in Prague, Poland, Frankfurt am Main (where he, along with the whole Jewish community, was expelled in 1614), and finally in the Holy Land. At an early age, he was recognized as a great Gaon, and he took part in the meetings of the Rabbis of the Vaad Arba Ha Arotzos (Council of the Four Countries), together with the greatest Rabbis of his generation. He held rabbinical positions in various communities such as Dubno, Ostraha, Posen, Cracow, Vienna and Frankfurt, where he headed great Yehsivos and had large numbers of students. His monumemtal Shenei Luchot ha-Brit, completed in Jerusalem, consists of two parts: Derech Chayim [Path of Life], containing laws according to the order of the Festivals in the calendar, and Luchot ha-Brit, summarizing the 613 commandments in the order in which they appear in the Bible. Horowitz draws upon the vast Halachic, homiletical, and mystical literature of his predecessors and contemporaries to provide guidance for living an ethical life. It includes mystical notions, which by now had started to be the dominant form of ethical writing.
First printed in Amsterdam, in 1648-49, this edition of Shnei Luchot ha-Brit was published in Frankfurt d.O. by Michael Gottschalk, a local bookbinder and bookdealer who took over the management of Johann Christoph Beckman's printing press in Frankfort d.O. in 1693. Gottschalk became the moving spirit of the press for almost four decades. His most ambitious project was a completed edition of the Talmud, printed in 1697-1699, a work for which the Frankfurt press is best known to this day.
Gottschalk's printer's mark, a monogram formed by the interlaced letters of his initials, appears on the title page.