This text was prepared by William Gross:
The only edition of this collection of responsa written by an emissary of Eretz Yisrael. Elaborate architectural title page with figures of Moses and Aaron.
One hundred twelve responsa (numbered as 114) from R. Shabbetai Be’er, who was born in Italy and later settled in Jerusalem. Be’er returned to Italy as an emissary of Jerusalem, Tzfat and Hebron, publishing Be’er Esek in Venice. He died before he could return to Eretz Israel.
Among the subjects addressed in this work are: on acquiring a house in the Venice ghetto; the continued recitation of kinot over the destruction of the Temple after the advent of Shabbetai Tzvi (noting that many hold that the redemption is at hand); whether menstrual women should attend synagogue; on the handling of money raised by emissaries; whether or not it is permissible to shave one’s beard, according to Kabbalah, apart from the pe’ot. Be’er informs that the kabbalist under whom he studied for twenty-two years, R. Isaac Berechiah Fano (and his students) did shave their beards.
Decorative title page with tablets of the law at the top, supported by angels. Moses and Aaron stand in niches below. Cartouche with 3 lion heads at bottom center (Bragadin emblem?). For the same title page used in a different volume see B.819 (Venice, Bragadin, 1675). For a nearly-identical title page, which shows the figure of King Solomon instead of Aaron, see B.1741 (Venice, Bragadin, 1664).
In 1550 Alvise Bragadin established a Hebrew press in Venice, thus ending a brief monopoly in Hebrew printing in Venice enjoyed by Guistiani (after the closing of the Bomberg press). This press continued as one of Venice’s leading Hebrew print-shops, issuing Hebrew titles in the 18th C under several generations of Bragadins (the last of whom was Alvise III). Throughout the years, the output of the Bragadini press was considerable, and covered the gamut of Hebrew works. The press was somewhat unusual, however, in that the Bragadins themselves did not always take an active role in their printing-house, leaving its operation to other printers, and lending their name to other presses.