The Strashun Library of Vilna
Rescued from the Ashes

Sefer Elim



Sefer Elim




Strashun Library
Hebrew literature
Amsterdam -- Jewish publishing
Lunski, Khaykl


Page from Sefer Elim by Joseph Solomon Delmedigo. Amsterdam, 1628.

Born in Crete to a distinguished Sephardic family, Delmedigo was the son of Rabbi Elija Delmedigo. After receiving a traditional Jewish education, he was admitted at age 15 to the University of Padua, where he studied mathematics and astronomy under Galileo (1564-1642). Astronomy and astrology were legitimate diagnostic tools at that time. In 1613 he went back to Crete to practice medicine, but did not stay there long. He traveled to Cairo and Constantinople, and became acquainted with several Arab and Jewish mathematicians and scientists.

In 1620 he was invited to live in Vilna and became the personal physician of Albert III Radziville (1589-1636), ruler of the Kingdom of Poland.

Sefer Elim discusses problems in mathematics, natural philosophy and metaphysics. It also includes the first explanation in Hebrew of the theories of the Polish astronomer, Copernicus (1473-1543).

Sefer Elim was published in Amsterdam, where the restless Delmedigo moved in 1628. It was edited and printed by another Renaissance man, the famous Talmudic scholar Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657). Manasseh, son of a Portuguese Converso who returned to Judaism, established the first Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam in 1626.

This copy of the book bears the stamp of Khaykl Lunski, last head librarian of the Strashun Library.


Delmedigo, Joseph Solomon


YIVO Library


Menasheh ben Yisraʾel








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Delmedigo, Joseph Solomon, “Sefer Elim ,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed March 2, 2024,
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