Page 19 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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F
e f fe r
— O
f
L
ad ie s
and
C
on vert s
and
T
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to the Father,” changed it to “W h a t matters it to the Father,”
etc. This fau lty reading is found in several editions.
In Yebamot 63a the original “A man w ithout a wife is not
a man” was altered by the censors to read “A Jew w ithout a
w ife,” in order not to cast aspersions on Catholic priests.
S. S. Feigensohn relates in his Insult to the Torah, Berlin,
1929, how the apostate Dr. Biesenthal induced the stereotyper
of an edition of the Talmud published in 1864-1865 to remove
the letter he from the word yeshuah, to make the text in the
tractate Shabbat 31a, read “You have been expecting Jesus.”
Four thousand corrected sheets had to be sent to the purchasers
of that edition.
T ha t proofreading has always been considered an important
and sacred occupation is apparent from several Talmudic quota­
tions. In Ketubbot 106a we are told that “the revisers of the
scrolls in Jerusalem received their salaries from the Temple
funds.” “W hen you teach your son,” we read in Pesahim 112a,
“teach him from a book that has been corrected.” And Ketubbot
19b admonishes: “A scroll that is not corrected, says Rabbi
Ammi, may be kept up to th irty days. From then on it is fo r­
bidden to keep it, as it is w ritten (Job 11. 14): ‘Let not un­
righteousness dwell in thy tents’.”
In 1807 a proofreader commented in a note to a volume he
was assigned to proofread: “I hesitate as I approach the task
of emending errors because there exists an ancient threat of
excommunication against those who correct books according to
mere opinion . .
A woman proofreader seems to have lived in Yemen in the
fifteenth century. Her story is related by Yaakob Sappir in Eben
Sappir, 102a, who quotes from a manuscript of a Pentateuch
this touching account of her apology: “Do not judge me too
harshly i f you find any errors, because I am a nursing mother.
Signed, Miriam daughter of Benayah the Scribe.”
The proofreader David G rinhu t puns in Sefer ha-Gilgulim,
published in 1864 in Frankfurt a.M.: “Do not judge your fellow-
man un til you revise in his stead.”
Even today, with all the mechanical means at our disposal,
books are rare ly completely free from error. In scientific and
scholarly volumes, where errors can be particulaly damaging,
tables of errata are generally appended. The first such table in
a Hebrew book appeared in an edition of the Pentateuch pub­
lished in Italy in 1840, containing the Aramaic Targum and the
Haftarot.
Perhaps proofreaders ought to intone the prayer which our
sages, aware of the pitfalls created by error and misunderstand­
ing, uttered before and after expounding the Law. W e read in
Mishnah 4.2 of Berakot,