QUESTION: Hi. I was wondering if you – as someone who is seemingly interested in Lashon Hakodesh, and the structure and roots of the wording of the language-, if you have ever chanced upon a sefer called דור הפלגה written by ר דוד פרובינצאלי in which he explores words in different languages that are based/rooted – in his opinion – in Lashon Hakodesh.
In אור החיים חכמי ישראל וספריהם he suggests that he is a brother of the famous ר’ משה פרובינצאלו. he then lists his seforim and includes the above-mentioned “dor Hapalaga”. They are all also quoted in Ben Yaakov’s Ozar Hasefarim, and I even came across some examples of this sefer in R’ Yechezkel Fievels Toldos Adam, but have yet to see it in its entirety.
If you have ever seen it or know anything more about it please let me know. Thank you.
ANSWER: Very interesting question. I looked into it a bit, and I have found no evidence of this sefer actually being published. I have recently been reading up on the infamous Rabbi Azaria de Rossi and his controversial work Meor Einayim, and when perusing that topic, I learned that the Provencal brothers (Rav Moshe and Rav Yehudah) were personal friends of de Rossi, but were still engaged in harshly criticizing him and were instrumental in shaping the public perception of that book. That said, the only real source that mentions Rav Dovid Provencal’s Dor HaPalaga is de Rossi’s work Meor Einayim (on page 456 in the Kessel edition) as doing what you said it does. In light of the personal connection between de Rossi and Rav Dovid Provencal, I would assume that Rav Dovid Provencal showed de Rossi his unpublished sefer, so de Rossi was able to mention it in his own sefer. From there, Dor HaPalaga is listed in the work Sifsei Yeshainim which is a list of seforim, by Rabbi Shabsai Bas (who is famous for his Sifsei Chachamim to Rashi on Chumash), who writes that Dor HaPalaga is cited by de Rossi. This suggests that Rabbi Bas didn’t actually see the published work Dor HaPalaga because he doesn’t give a place and year for its publication like he does with most other works that are listed in his list of seforim; he simply writes that the work is cited by de Rossi. From Sifsei Yeshainim, Dor HaPalaga is listed in Rabbi Heilpern’s Seder haDoros who just copied a lot of what Rabbi Bas wrote. From there, it was listed in Ben Yaakov’ similar sefer. As you probably know, this sefer is not found on Otzar HaChochma or HebrewBooks.org or in the National Library of Israel which is another סמך that it doesn’t really exist. In short, I have no reason to think that this sefer was ever published, but I will consult with some other people who might know better than I. You mentioned that Rav Yechezkel Feivel of Vilna quotes this sefer as well. I wasn’t able to find citations, could you please share the exact examples with me so I can better pursue this? Does he quote anything from this sefer that is not already mentioned in Meor Einayim? One more point, Rabbi Bas and Seder HaDoros also mention that Rav Dovid Provencal wrote a sefer called Migdal Dovid dikduk, which I also haven’t been able to locate, so we seem to be missing two seforim of his. Kol Tuv,
Reuven Chaim Klein Beitar Illit, Israel