Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

Basic HTML Version

brew printing until 1950. The vast majority of these were Torah
publications.1 It is safe to assume that the number of different
titles and editions of Torah publications printed from 1950 to
1983 exceeds the total printed from the advent of Hebrew print­
ing until 1950.2
There can be no question that the Holocaust and the creation
of the State of Israel provided the impetus for the Torah publica­
tion explosion. The destruction of the centers of learning of Eu­
ropean Jewry, and of much of the literature studied by that
Jewry, made it imperative that any reconstruction of the culture
of European Jewry include the republication of the literary trea­
sures it had produced. East European Jews who had escaped to
Shanghai, China at the outbreak of World War II, published clas­
sical works on the Talmud, including talmudic commentaries
that had first been published between the two World Wars, such
as Israel Zalman Shlomowitz,
Beit Yisrael
(Shanghai: 1946). In
1947 in Munich, the Vaad Hatzala published in miniature form a
series of Torah classics such as Aryeh Leib Gunzberg’s
and Aryeh Leib Heller’s
Shev shemateta.
These set the tone
for what would come in the years ahead with the creation of the
State of Israel as the center of gravity of the Jewish people, and
with the emergence of the United States, and specifically New
York, as the major center for Torah publication in the Diaspora.
Torah publications in Israel and the United States would not
have assumed prodigious proportions if not for technological
progress, such as photo-offset printing, which enabled publish­
ers to reproduce books at reasonable cost to publisher and con­
sumer alike.
1 Friedberg’s list, of course, is incomplete as iswell known to all Jewish bibliogra­
phers. The extent to which it is incomplete will become apparent to all with the
completion and publication of the National Hebrew Bibliography project.
See, e.g.,
Specimen brochure,
Institute For Hebrew Bibliography, Jerusalem,
2 I have no documentary evidence with which to support this statement. It is an
impressionistic one based upon a careful reading of M. Moriah (Moshe Feld),
Beit eked sefarim he-hadash
(Safed: 1974-1976 [cf. his
Otsar ha-mehabrim,
1977]); the running bibliography in
Kiryat sefer,
and my own knowledge of To­
rah publications since 1950. Of course, much of the Torah publications since
1950 are photo-mechanical reproductions of pre-1950 publications.