Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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MEHLMAN / ANTIQUE HEBREW BOOKS
11
(usually in limited editions) — have almost entirely d isappeared
and it is difficult to obtain them. As is well known, all the books
that appeared in Poland and the Ukraine on the eve o f World
War II, as well as the Jewish und e rg round literature o f the inva­
sion period have practically been lost because o f the Nazi a t­
rocities.
BOOK BURNINGS
Many Hebrew book collections were despoiled as a result o f the
dire persecutions o f the Church. For example: the bu rn ing o f the
Talmud and o f
Ein Yaakov
in 1554. It was then that the magnifi­
cent edition o f the Talmud which had ju s t appeared in Sab-
bioneta was almost completely destroyed, with only a few copies
o f the tractate Kiddushin and o f the concluding sections o f some
additional tractates (Erubin, Pesahim, etc.) remaining.
At times the victims were individual books, like
Lehem Yehudah
,
the commentary on the Ethics o f the Fathers by Rabbi Yehudah
Lirma (Venice, 1553), or
Sefer Zioni
on the T o rah (Cremona,
1559, in Rashi type). Only a few copies escaped the flames.
Among the “ravages o f time” may be considered also disasters
like earthquakes and conflagrations. Shelomo Algazi’s
Sefer Zehav
Seivah
(Constantinople, 1683) was apparently b rough t to Izm ir
where most o f the copies were lost in an earthquake five years
later; the first two leaves o f the introduction , detailing the history
o f the printing press, have disappeared almost completely. The
terrible fires that consumed the Jewish habitations in Eastern
cities (Constantinople, Salonika, Izmir) destroyed valuable book
collections. This accounts for the rarity o f a number o f books
printed by Shelomo Franko and his son Abraham, who were
active for a period o f close to half a century in Constantinople (in
the 17th century). Even rare are some o f the books p rin ted by
Abraham ha-Ger in Salonika (middle o f the 17th century), such as
Zok Ha-Ittim
and tractates o f the Talmud . The great fire which
wreaked havoc in Frankfort in 1711 destroyed book collections
which included books printed on the eve o f the fire. Complete
editions o f books were consumed in 1948 when a bomb was set o ff
in a Jerusalem printing house. Only a few copies remained o f I.
Tishby’s edition o f
Zizat Novel Zvi
by Jacob Sasportas and of