Mechir Yayin (The Price of Wine) by Rabbi Moses Isserles (The Rema) on Megillas Esther, (Warsaw), 1866.

5v Mechir Yayin_0001This book is from my antique books, not my Anglo-Judaica collection, and is a most appropriate book for Purim in a time of plague, such as COVID. 

The story behind the book, which the Rema explains in his introduction, is that the Rema was forced to leave Cracow for Shidlow because of an outbreak of cholera.  He writes that “I was among the  exiles from our city in the year 1556 because of the plague (it should not come upon you), and we dwelt in a land that was not ours, in the city of Shidlow, a place without fig trees and vines … we were unable to observe Purim with feasting and joy, to remove sorrow and mourning.”

The title of the book, Mechir Yayin, comes from the book of Isaiah, 55:1 “…everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters, and he who has no money, come, buy and eat, come, buy wine (Mechir Yayin) and milk without money and without price.

The Rema was unable to send his father the traditional Mishloach Manos (edible gifts) for Purim, and instead, he wrote this book for his father.

The book is a philosphical, allegorical and cabbalistic commentary on the Book of Esther. The Rema, Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles was among the foremost halachic authorities. He is usually known for his glosses, called Mappah, on the Shulchan Aruch.  The Rema’s work made the Shulchan Aruch acceptable to the Ashkenazim.

He established a Yeshiva at Cracow, counting among his outstanding students Rabbi Mordecai Jaffe, known as the Levush, and Rabbi Abraham HaLevi Horowitz (you can read about his book Yesh Nochlin here), who was the father of Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, and also Rabbi Joshua Falk (the author of Meiras Einayim).

The book was first printed at Cremona in 1558.  This edition was printed in 1866 and is listed by Friedberg as having been printed in Warsaw.

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