Auction 2

Lot 3:

Eleven Single Leaves of 16th Century Tractates‭ - ‬Salonica or Constantinople

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Start price: $450

Estimated price:

Auction house commission: 25%

VAT: On commission only

Babylonian Talmud – Salonica Edition

In the early days of print, Hebrew books were produced primarily in Italy. Beginning in 1484, the Talmud was published in Soncino and Pesaro, but mainly in Venice. In 1553, Pope Julius III ordered the burning of all tractates of the Talmud. It was carried out on Rosh Hashanah 1553 in the main public square of Rome. Further burnings took place in other cities of Italy. The shortage of volumes available for Torah study was acutely felt. The printer R. Yosef Yaavetz of Salonica took up the challenge of republishing the Talmud. He began in 1558 in a spirit of religious zeal, and published several volumes over the next five years. After it became difficult to continue in Salonica, he relocated to Constantinople and continued his undertaking there. All volumes printed in Salonica are extremely rare. See Y. Mehlman, Genuzot Sefarim, pp. 45–53, where he concludes that only 11 tractates were published in Salonica, of which only a single copy exists from some of them, not all complete. R. N.N. Rabinowitz describes some of the rare volumes published in Salonica, and expresses doubt if the edition was ever completed.

1. One leaf from the tractate Betzah.

Salonica, by Joseph Yaavetz. 1565.

The text of this leaf parallels that printed in our texts on leaf 23. Here is one page of a very early tractate Betzah, recorded on the basis of one copy, today found in the library of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, USA. See: Y. Mehlman, Genuzot Sefarim, p. 53, no. 9.

The sheet was restored and completed in facsimile from the copy in Cincinnati.

Vinograd, Salonica 67.

2. One leaf from the tractate Pesachim.

Constantinople. 1545. [1] leaf.

This is leaf 122 and includes the rulings of Tosefot to the tractate Pesachim.

With a tear in the corner that was completed in facsimile.

Yaari, Constantinople 209. Vinograd Salonica 291.

3. Two consecutive leafs from the tractate Berachot.

[Salonica. 1540s].

The text of these leaves parallels that printed in our texts on leaf 40 folio B and leaf 58 folio A.

4. Four leaves from the tractate Betzah.

[Salonica, 1540s].

The text of these leaves parallels that printed in our texts on leaves 24–26.

5. Three leaves from the tractate Ketubot.

[Salonica. 16th century].

The text of one of these leaves parallels that printed in our texts on leaf 4. Two other consecutive leaves parallel that printed in our texts on leaves 66 folio B – 68 folio A.

Here is a rare collection of leaves from the early Salonica editions of the 16th century. All tractates printed in Salonica are extremely hard to come by, as they were printed in very limited editions. It is hard to establish from which edition each leaf comes, as most are not existent anymore. See: A. Horowitz, Mahadurat Masechet Bava Kama M’Dfusei Saloniki, N.Y. 1986, which follows the changes in the Talmud printed in Salonica from edition to edition. These sheets have much value due to both their rarity and the variances in the texts.