Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
L
a s t
YEAR’S JEWISH BOOK
Month poster, which is rep rodu ced
facing o u r title page, was designed in the fo rm a t o f a page o f the
T a lm ud . I t followed the traditional pa tte rn o f the talmudic page
which features the text in the cen te r and flanks it with the
commentaries o f Rashi and the Tosafists.
Among the literary ann iversaries o f 1984 one major date
stands ou t above all o thers — the 500th anniversary o f the p r in t­
ing o f the first trac tate o f the T a lm ud ,
Berakhot,
in Soncino, Italy.
We were happy to learn tha t this anniversary was comm emora ted
by Bar-Ilan University, which convened a conference on April 1,
1984, to m ark the occasion.
T h e Ta lm ud , the g rea t depository o f ou r O ral Law, has shared
the difficult fate o f o u r people. I t served as the text fo r many a
dispu tation between Christians and Jews. I t was consigned to the
flames at various times. I t was subjected to censorship. Yet, soon
af te r the in troduc tion o f p rin ting it began to be published , ini­
tially in individual tractates, until permission was g ran ted fo r the
en tire work to be p rin ted . Interestingly enough , the first edition
o f the complete T a lm ud (1520-1523) was the work o f a Christian
p r in te r , Daniel Bomberg o f Venice.
T h e p ioneering figure responsible fo r the p rin ting o f the first
talmudic trac tate was Jo shua Solomon who in 1482 set up shop in
Soncino, a small town in Lombardy, Italy. T h e forebears o f
Jo shua Solomon adop ted the name Soncino as the ir family name
in g ra titude fo r the permission which had been g ran ted them to
settle in the town. Among the books p rin ted at Soncino was J o ­
seph Albo’s classic philosophical work
Sefer Ha-Ikkarim
(Book o f
Principles, 1485). Albo, toge ther with many o thers , voiced gen ­
eral appreciation fo r the work o f the Soncino press by applying to
it the following pa raph ra se o f the biblical verse: “For ou t o f Zion
shall go fo r th the Law, and the word o f the Lord from Soncino.”
In his edition o f
Berakhot
Jo shua Solomon indicated tha t it was
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