Page 18 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
promised our ancestors to give us,” and that Abraham is
father to you, to us, and to a ll righteous men.
The following incident illustrates an unusual link between
the beauty of typography and the leap into faith. Rabbi Samuel
da Medina, who had been chief rabbi of Salonika for almost
ha lf a century, died in 1594. He was the author of Responsa
which was printed in Salonika during his lifetime. A fte r the
rabb i’s death one of his sons, dissatisfied w ith the appearance of
his father’s book, brought printing presses, printing fonts and
printers from Venice to rep rin t it; and it emerged as a very
handsome piece of typography. In the colophon the follow ing
story is told: When two of the Christian printers observed the
elegance of the book they had turned out, they were drawn to
Judaism and were converted!
Errors of Commission and Omission
Typesetters and proofreaders shoulder weighty responsibility;
their errors of commission and omission, products of carelessness
or wilfulness, can do irreparable harm. One can easily imagine
the effect of an edition of the Bible in which “not” is omitted
from the seventh commandment. Yet we find such Bibles which,
despite all precautions, were allowed to leave the printeries and
to be distributed among readers. A German edition of the Bible,
published in Halle in 1731, is known as the “Ehebrecher
(adulterers) B ibel” because the negative was omitted from the
seventh commandment. There are several peculiar Bibles in
English. One is the edition called “breeches B ible” because the
seventh verse in the third chapter of Genesis reads:
Then the eyes of them both were opened 8c they knewe
that they were naked; and they sewed figtre leaves together,
and made themselves breeches. . .
Another is the “bug Bible,” in which Psalm 91. 5 reads:
So that thou shalt not nede to be afraid for any bugges by
nighte, nor for the arrow that flyeth by day . . .
A third, and worst of all, is the “wicked B ible” of 1631 which
omitted the “not” in the seventh commandment. Of this terrible,
wicked book only four copies escaped the public executioner,
and the poor printer was fined the then huge sum of £300.
Jewish books have suffered from errors of commission—w ilfu l
mistakes introduced by censors. In the tractate Berakot of the
Babylonian Talmud, the MSS and early texts of folio 3a read:
“Woe to the Father whose children have wandered from their
Father’s table.” The censor, not relishing the expression “Woe