This collection of rare books and manuscripts is from the estate of the Kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo Moussaieff, who was born in Bukhara (Uzbekistan) in 1852.
After studying Torah under Rabbis David Chafin and Joshua Shushan, Rabbi Moussaieff engaged in the tea trade and in real estate dealing, as well as banking. The outbreak of a plague in Bukhara sparked his decision to make Aliyah, immigrating to Palestine in 1890. Rabbi Moussaieff succeeded in liquidating his numerous business interests and upon his arrival in Palestine he became active in the public interest, specifically for the Bukharan Jewish community in Jerusalem, by the purchase of land and the building of houses and public institutions. The Bukharan neighborhood, originally named Rechovot ha-Bukharim, is renowned in Jerusalem for the beauty of its buildings, its wide streets and its European character. Rabbi Moussaieff served as a leader of the Bukharan community in Jerusalem, until his death in 1922.
Rabbi Moussaieff collected his first books and manuscripts as a young man in Bukhara and continued its expansion in Jerusalem by the addition of hundreds of manuscripts and books, both new and old. The handwritten list of his collection is one of the digitized items available on this website (no. 1228). Rabbi Moussaieff's interest in Kabbalistic teachings is reflected in the 120 manuscripts in this collection that deal with the Kabbalah.
The Moussaieff collection held in Bar-Ilan University includes 218 manuscripts. Seder ha-Refu'ot by Rabbi Haim Vital (1542-1620) (MS no. 219) is in the possession of Alon Moussaieff. Five manuscripts were lost over the years and an additional four manuscripts are held by various libraries in Jerusalem.
After the passing of Rabbi Moussaieff, the collection passed through many hands: from the Chochmei Bukhara Yeshiva to the Beit Ha-Sfarim Ha-Le'umi (predecessor of the Israel National Library), eventually returning to Rabbi Moussaieff's son, Rechavia Moussaieff. The collection was then split-up, the manuscript collection placed for safekeeping in Mossad ha-Rav Kook and the print collection placed in the Porat Yosef Yeshiva (both in Jerusalem). After a few years, the collection was returned to its owners and was stored in the basement of the Sh"M [Shlomo Moussaieff] Yeshiva in the Bukhara neighborhood. The poor and unsupervised conditions in which the collection was stored caused damage from moisture and mold and a number of manuscripts went missing.
The Moussaieff family made a special effort to recollect and preserve the collection. They actively sought the lost manuscripts - some of them were returned and others were bought back from their new owners. This endeavor was funded by Dr. Shlomo Moussaieff, the grandson of Rabbi Shlomo and son of Rechavia. The late Dr. Sara Frankel and Dr. Avraham Elkayam were instrumental in securing the donation of the collection to Bar-Ilan University. Part of the collection has been restored and the whole collection has been digitally preserved with the support of Dr. Shlomo Moussaieff and the Shlomo Moussaieff Kabbalah Research Institute.
The collection was digitally photographed by Ardon Bar-Hama.