Nishmath Ḥayyim / Ḥayyim
(Encyclopedia of the Soul)
The book Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim — נשמת חיים — “The Living Soul”) was written by Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel, one of the most illustrious Hebrew scholars of the 17th century. As noted by the author himself, it is a comprehensive encyclopedia of all aspects pertaining to the human soul and its eternity.1
It has been reported that Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim — similar to Sefer Mitzvoth ha-Gadol [Sefer Miẓwot ha-Gadol (Semag)] created four centuries earlier by Rabbi Moshe ben Yaakov [Moses ben Jacob] of Coucy), was commanded by a Heavenly Messenger to be written down, and Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel testified that he had been guided in that remarkable process.2
In pre-Holocaust Europe, Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) was a standard mussar (ethics) textbook in many yeshivas. Throughout the centuries, it was hailed by such Torah luminaries as Rabbi Yaakov Emden (1697–1776, Jacob Israel Ashkenazi [or Jacob Herschel] of Emden [Yabeẓ]) who even wrote a commentary on this book, Rabbi Ḥayyim (Ḥayyim) Yosef (Joseph) David Azulai ([Ḥida], 1724–1806) who called Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel “the leader among philosophers,” and, in our generation, by Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Israel Kanievsky (1899–1985; the “Steipler Gaon”) who recommended it to his disciples and to those who wanted to strengthen their faith.
My digital edition of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) was released in 2007–2008 to commemorate 350 years since the passing of Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel. That electronic edition is a pioneer in the history of publishing of that book from the time of its original printing in the end of 1651. For the first time, this highly accurate, powerful, and eloquent digital version fully brings to light the beauty of the original Hebrew manuscript, which is also displayed in a clear type and is completely searchable.
Some features of this Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) edition:
Facsimile electronic version duplicating the type and appearance of the most accurate 19th century edition.
Exclusive: Digital authentic layout (צורת הדף) precisely displaying the pagination of the printed edition. Perfect for academic quoting and research referencing.
More than 1000 carefully documented corrections, notes, and improvements based on the original Amsterdam, Szczecin (Stettin), Warsaw, and other reliable versions and texts.
No separate Hebrew software is required: this edition can be viewed on all Microsoft Windows OS starting with Windows 95.
User-friendly interface that additionally contains a powerful search engine (full-text search and on-page search with thorough utilization of prefixes and suffixes).
Search results are numbered and counted in full-text searches, highlighted and conveniently displayed within their original text blocks (in both full-text and on-page search modes) for instant retrieval and analysis.
Easy input of queries using either built-in Israeli-regular, Hebrew-phonetic, or on-screen keyboards.
Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel’s updated biography, bibliography, rare illustrations, and other valuable additions.
A reader of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) will be delighted with Rabbi Menashe ben-Israel’s perfect mastery of Talmudic and medieval Hebrew literature, his wisdom, and quotations from hundreds of exclusive sources, rare records, and historical anecdotes that support every point he made. Nothing escaped his keen eye, all aspects were carefully scrutinized in the light of genuine Jewish tradition.
Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) is an excellent encyclopedic tool for serious students of mussar, a treasured present for young individuals on their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, a wedding dowry, a strengthening support for mourners, and a perfect gift for soul-searching friends or colleagues — especially in our times when reflections on soul immortality and life-purpose in this world are common.
Minimal System Requirements:
Microsoft Windows 95 or later, 64 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive.
The text above is a modified version of the original introduction to my digital edition. I may add that in 2011–2012 bibliophiles celebrated 360 years since the first printing of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim). That is another ample reason to obtain my electronic version today.
In the years following my initial release of this book, there appeared hastily and poorly made low-quality scans of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim; sometimes with an automatic and always incorrect OCR applied to them).
A true scholar will never use any digitized edition loaded with mistakes as a reference because there is no way to ascertain that information s/he is looking for is present or not in that text.
Indeed, the Talmudic prohibition of employing ספר שאינו מוגה, a book that is not proofread (Kethuvoth 19b), has been logically understood by many scholars to include not just the books of the Bible, but other sacred texts as well (see, for instance, the elucidation of Rabbi Moshe (Moses) Isserles (ReMA) [16th century] in the collection of his responsa [№10] and in his commentary on Shulḥan / Shulḥan Arukh [Yoreh Deah 279:1]).
What sets my edition apart is that I scrupulously retyped the entire manuscript of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim), compared it with other editions, and made a large amount of corrections and annotations invaluable for in-depth study.
Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) CD is prepared on an individual basis. You will receive your unique registration together with a nicely decorated compact disk. I can also provide help with questions of installation and usage of my edition.
Download the DEMO of Nishmath Ḥayyim [Nishmath Ḥayyim] (1.88 MB).
Read my article “Consciousness After Death and Realm of Spirits” in which some ideas discussed in Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) are presented. You are also invited to take a look at the fragment of Nishmath Ḥayyim (Nishmath Ḥayyim) that I translated from Hebrew into English.
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