Page 20 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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14
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
POPULAR WORKS
A similar process occurred regard ing talmudic tractates tha t
were studied in the yeshivot: Berakhot, Shabbat, Bava Kamma,
Bava Mezia, and Ketubot. They d isappeared almost completely,
especially the early editions. Constant use worked the same as
fires and persecution. O f the tractates printed at the press o f
David Azobiv, only one complete tractate is known — Berakhot
(Salonika, 1580). O f the tractates p rin ted by Abraham ha-Ger in
Salonika (1653-57), we have only a few small fragments (Be­
rakhot, Bezah, and Bava Mezia).
Old Bibles, especially editions o f the Pentateuch and the
Psalms, were lost for the most part because o f excessive use. And
this, despite the fact tha t they were held to be sacred by Jews and
non-Jews alike. Even relatively later editions, such as the Pen­
tateuch published in Hanau (1614), or a fu r th e r edition o f this
item from the press o f Manasseh Ben Israel (Amsterdam, 1640),
are scarce. In Poland and Russia as well (e.g., in Ostrog) the re
appeared editions o f the Pentateuch and Psalms which have come
down to us only in few copies.
Hasidic works, which were treasured by the hasidic community,
also suffered because o f overuse. Most o f those which appea red
up to 1800 are not to be found. Especially ra re are the early tales,
such as
Sefer Sippure Maasiyot
by Nahman o f Bratslav (1815),
Shivhe Ha-Besht
in Yiddish translation (Korzec, Laszczow, Novy
Dvor). Also
Sefer Ha-Middot
by Nahman o f Bratslav (1811), the
wills o f Rabbi David Heilprin and his son Issachar Berish,
Darke
Zion
(Polnoi, 1798), and a number o f prayerbooks, such as
Likkute
Tefillot Le-Ha-Ran
(Bratslav, 1822), are all rare.
So much for religious works. Secular works as well, especially
historical accounts, travel literature and stories, were popu lar
with the masses and deteriorated from overuse. The first Hebrew
novel,
Amadis de Gaula
— the translation o f the first p a rt o f a
Spanish nobility tale which was made by a doctor named Jacob di
Algaba, was printed approximately in 1540 in Constantinople
and has been preserved only in a few copies. Later historical
works and tales which appeared in the 17th-18th centuries, are
also rare. Similarly, various practical works dealing with dream s
and astrology, and collections o f letters, calendars and popu lar
medical books o f the 16th-18th centuries, are rare o r completely