This is another book from my antique Hebrew book collection – nothing to do with Anglo-Jewry.
Rabbi Yair Chayim Bacharach was a major and important rabbi of the 17th century. He is sometimes referred to as the Chavos Yair, after the title of his book Chavos Yair – but that is a later work than this one.
He was born in 1638 or 1639 in Lipnik in Moravia, and lived first in Koblenz, and then in Worms and Mainz. His grandmother, Eva Bacharach, was a granddaughter of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the Maharal of Prague.
Rabbi Bacharach was a prolific and important writer, but some of his works were not published for various reasons, including size and expense. In 1679 he collected some of his father’s and of his grandfather’s responsa and published them in this small format, together with some of his own, under the title, “Chut haShani” (The Scarlet Thread).
The title page, in a decorative frame, explains that the responsa include some from Rabbi Yair Chaim Bacharach’s father, Rabbi Samson (1607-1670), who was the Av Beis Din (Head of the Rabbinical Court) of Worms, and his grandfather, Rabbi Samuel Bacharach (1575-1615).
There is no date on the title page, but the colophon (the inscription printed at the end of the book) indicates the date with the words Hasheket veHabituach (quietness and security), the Hebrew letters of which equal the number 439, indicating the Hebrew date equivalent of the secular date 1679.
The book has some interesting stamps and inscriptions.
In the introduction, scanned here, Rabbi Bacharach writes that he had originally intended to title the book of the combined responsa of the three rabbis “Chut Hameshulash, meaning a threefold cord, from the verse in Koheles (Ecclesiastes) that “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”, because the responsa are from all three of them. however he thought it presumptuous to compare himself to the other two rabbis, so he entitled it “Chut HaShani”, which means scarlet thread, and also twofold cord.
There are ninety-six responsa, of varying lengths. The final one is quite long and deals with the weights and measures that are mentioned in the Talmud, comparing them to the current weights and measures of Rabbi Bacharach’s day. There are also some responsa from other rabbis, including Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, known as The Shelah.