Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Newly scanned books

Looking through the latest 730-book list from, a few caught my eye:
  • A 1510 Halichos Olam - I have a bit of a thing about klalim books, attempts to systematize the Gemara's internal rules.

  • The Kaufmann Codex of the Mishnah, apparently the oldest & best of the three known complete mss. of the Mishnah, dating from the 10th-11th century.

  • Another Klalim book, this one from the Mechaber, R' Joseph Caro: Kelalei HaTalmud, this one printed in Salonika in 1598.

  • The first edition of Rambam's "Milot haHigayon," Venice, 1550. I have a copy of the 2nd edition, Cremona 1566, which got me into the collecting of old seforim. I bought it at the first Kestenbaum auction; they just held their 49th today. I've occasionally thought about writing a translation of this extremely boring book. I have now several Hebrew editions, as well as copies of two mss. (thanks to the JNUL online exhibit of The Great Eagle), including R' Kafih's translation with the original Arabic (not that I can read Arabic). R' Kafih's edition includes several commentaries, including that of the un-expanded 'RM"D', which Kafih calls "the best commentary". RMD is, of course, R' Moshe of Dessau, called Mendelssohn. I'm sure he just didn't want to alienate frummer purchasers of his book.

  • Latin translations of Tractates Middoth and Rosh Hashanah from 1630 and 1645.

  • Two parts (vayikra & shmot) of the first edition of the Zohar, Mantua 1558. There are actually two First editions, both in the same year, one in plain quarto pages like our modern editions, one in folio in double columns, printed in Cremona. Yes, a century before Cremona became the greatest center of violin-making (Stradivari, Guarneri, etc.) it was a center of Jewish printing.. But the Jewish printers were chased out in the 1560s, just as Amati was setting up his first violin shop. I have a copy of the last double-column Zohar printed, from Sulzbach in 1685; it has marginal notes linking it to the by-then standard pagination of the 3-volume version.

  • The early editions of Shu"t haRema which contain the controversial Teshuvah 124, on whether we can trust someone who has a mistaken belief that wine of non-Jews is kosher.

  • A Soncino Tr. Megillah, printed at Pesaro, 1516. Note the woodcut frame on the title page. It was originally carved for Gershom Soncino's edition of Decachordum Christianum, printed 1507. He reused the frame pieces for many books, getting more and more worn over the years, finally being used in Constantinople in the 1548, by Moses Parnas. Gershom had moved to Constantinople in 1530, died in 1533 leaving the business to his son Eliezer, and on Eliezer's death in 1547, it passed to his partner Parnas. The woodcuts stayed in use for all those forty years. Gershom Soncino is responsible for the Tosfos that we have in our modern Talmuds - he claimed to have been related to the Tosfos of Touques, and used their collection in his Talmuds. Tosfos haRosh may be clearer, but Tosfos of Touques got in by nepotism, and standardized.


הגיין said...

You write about the Milot haHigayon: "I've occasionally thought about writing a translation of this extremely boring book."

Why would you want to translate an "extremely boring book"?

Shabat shalom!

thanbo said...

Because it's the Rambam's earliest work (pace Herbert Davidson, whose stock in trade seems to be casting doubt on the authorship of Rambam's works), because the only English translation is locked in a journal from 1939, thus not really accessible, because it's a useful preface to other medieval Jewish works on logic and grammar.

And the last chapter isn't as boring.

הגיין said...

You mentioned RM"D, whose commentary was new to me. It's turning out interesting. Thanks.