This text was prepared by William Gross:
Ben Tzion, prayers and kabbalah, piyyutim and poems, by R. Yosef son of R. Elimelech of Turobin. Amsterdam: R. Moshe son of Avraham Avinu, . Illustrated title page with ornamental borders and figures. Includes the text of LeShem Yichud for many mitzvot, examples of flowery introductory sentences to letters, and plays consisting of dialogs between the Good inclination and the Evil inclination. The title on p. 2, "Approbations of the three shepherds, prominent Torah scholars… of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities in Amsterdam", is followed by an approbation signed by one signatory only, R. Moshe Yehuda son of R. Kalonymus HaKohen, rabbi of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam. He describes the author: "The elderly Torah scholar, R. Yosef son of R. Elimelech, resident of Poland, from the community of Turobin"
A multi-subject work encompassing ethics, Kabbalah, mnemonic terms for the mitzvot, chiromancy, benedictions, formulaic headings for letters, and other subjects, by R. Joseph ben Elimelech of Torbin, Poland (17th C). This is the only edition of Ben Zion.
Title page with two winged cherubim at top, and a large cartouche below framing the printer’s information and date. Folio 24b contains a depiction of a hand, in conjunction with the entry on palmistry.
Little is known of Joseph b. Elimelech of Torbin, aside from that he was a Talmudic scholar from Poland. Ben Zion is his only known work.
Moses ben Avraham Avinu printed briefly in Amsterdam in 1690 and again in 1692, and represents a colorful chapter in Hebrew printing. A proselyte to Judaism, he was born in Haase and is referred to as Moses Polak in Dutch records. Originally from Nikolsburg or Prague, Moses came to Amsterdam, together with his wife Friede Israels, already a practicing Jew or a convert to Judaism in Amsterdam. There, Moses worked as a compositor in the printing-presses of Uri Phoebus Ha-Levi and David Tartas. In 1689 Moses ben Avraham acquired the printing house of Moses Kosman, but not his type foundry; he also acquired type cut by Hermanus Mandelslo. While eight titles are attributed to his press in 1690, he was not successful in this venture, and, in November 1690, deeply in debt, his printing house failed.
The failure of Moses’ press has been attributed to a suit brought against him by Tartas over the right to print a Polish-rite prayer book. Although he won the suit, he no longer had the resources to continue printing. In 1694, however, he resumed printing, again with a Polish-rite prayer book, and again against Tartas’ opposition. In the end, he only printed four books (not the prayer book), and again did not succeed in the printing business. He left Amsterdam for Germany with unpaid debts, and continued to work in printing houses in Berlin, Frakfurt am Oder, and finally Halle. He eventually began printing independently, and put out the prayer book Tefilah-le-Moshe, which contained the prayer Aleinu, recently prohibited by royal decree. As a result, the press was closed, the typographical material and equipment seized, and Moses ben Avraham Avinu incarcerated.
Ben Tzion is the only volume in the Gross Family Collection from this printer.