This text was prepared by William Gross:
Ta'alumot Chochma, "Various compilations compiled by Rabbi Shmuel Ashkenazi from the large book which he began to write… Rabbi Yosef of Candia", Part 1 – including Bechinat HaDat by Rabbi Eliyahu del Medigo and Mitzraf L'Chochma by Rabbi Yosef Shlomo del Medigo (of Candia). [Hanau, 1629].
Title page for the entire book and two separate title pages for the books Bechinat HaDat and Mitzraf L'Chochma; (the title page of Bechinat HaDat was erroneously bound before the general title page). "Basilia" is falsely written as the place of printing on the two title pages. Additional works were added to Mitzraf L'Chochma: Shivchei Ha'Ari, Ma'amar Olam Katan, Kitzur Olam HaTikun, Seder Ha'Atzilut – Drush Adam Kadmon, Shever Yosef, Kabalat Maharari Srug, Igeret HaRamban, Igeret Teiman and Ma'amar Techiyat HaMetim. Ownership inscription on the title page of Bechinat HaDat: "Yitzchak Urbino bought this book from Chananya Yechiel Orkanilo… Pesaro". Apparently, this is Rabbi Yitzchak Shabtai Chaim Urbino (1675-1764), close disciple of the Rabach from whom he learned both the revealed and hidden Torah, together with his friend Rabbi Yeshaya Bassan.
The works of the sage and kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Delmedigo, compiled by Rabbi Shmuel Ashkenazi. Bassialia [actually: Hanau], [1629-1631]. All the parts printed. First edition with the rare leaf.
Background: The book was printed soon after the passing of the author, sage, doctor and kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Shlomo of Kandia also known as HaYashar of Kandia. Most of the works are connected to kabbalistic matters: the book contains two main books: a general title page, partially in Latin. Title page for Bechinat HaDat, title page for Metzaref L'Chochma and Novelot Chochma [part one], and a title page for part of Novelot Chochma and Novelot Orah.
The complete book before us contains: Bechinat HaDat, Metzaref L'Chochma, Shivchei HaAri, Olam Katan, Olam B'Tikkun, Shever Yosef, Kabbalat Mahari Sarug, Iggeret HaRamban L'Hitnatzlut Sefer HaMoreh, Ketavim, Iggeret Teiman, Ma'amar Techiyat HaMeitim. And at the end of part two: Otiot L'Rabbeinu Sa'adyah, Koach Hashem.
Unique Features: Between page 195 and 196 is a folded leaf: pictures to understand the worlds and the faces. At the top of the leaf: Olam HaAtzilut; Atika Kadisha, Abba, Imma, Zo"n, Olam HaBeriah. This leaf is rare, refer to Rosenthal Yodeah Sefer page 257 who wrote that his copy does not have this leaf. However, in the copy before us, as in most known copies, does not have the leaf with Luach HaMalbush etc.
A Jewish philosopher (also known to his contemporaries as ‘Helias Cretensis’) who was born and died in Candia in the island of Crete, Elijah Delmedigo (ca. 1458–93) achieved fame and influenced many of the leading philosophers and intellectuals of the early Renaissance during the ten-year period of his stay in northern Italy.
Notwithstanding the specific historical circumstances that form the context for the writings of Elijah Delmedigo (hereafter “Delmedigo” for short), his works, whether they be the translations and commentaries on the works of Ibn Rushd, or his book Sefer Behinat Hadat, reflect a systematic philosophic approach dealing with topics which have a perennial interest for philosophers and historians of ideas.
He spent the last 3–4 years of his short life at peace with the more secluded and unchanged cultural surroundings of his youth, and at the request of one of his pupils in Candia named Shaul Ashkenazi, Delmedigo wrote the small book in Hebrew Sefer Behinat Hadat (translated as “An Examination of Religion”) which is his main contribution to Jewish Thought. The book was completed on December 31, 1490. Shaul preserved the manuscript after his teacher's death and took upon himself the responsibility for the dissemination of copies. He added a short introduction praising its author and setting out the main facts regarding the author's life and death. There is some irony in the circumstance that while some of the Latin translations and commentaries written by Elijah Delmedigo for the general public already appeared in print in 1552, his Sefer Behinat Hadat written for his own Jewish readers had to wait until 1629, when it was published in print for the first time by a descendant of the Delmedigo family in Basilia as part of a collection of other works. The collection included a tract written by this descendant replying to Delmedigo's criticism of the Kabbalah in Sefer Behinat Hadat.