Page 188 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the category o f public property, therefore not objects that may
legally be distributed among the heirs o f the former Rebbe.
Rabbi Levine was appointed director o f the new entity, while
Yizhak Wilhelm continues in the position o f chief cataloger as­
sisted by two part-time aides. According to statistical data sup­
plied by Rabbi Levine, the total holdings under his control com­
prise approximately some 120,00 titles, including 3,000 book-
bound manuscripts. It is a multilingual library, predominantly
o f Sifre Kodesh in Hebrew, plus about 30,000 items in Yiddish,
10,000 in English, and 500 in each o f three languages — French,
German and Russian. About 200 o f the manuscript volumes
contain discourses on Habad (Maamarim) handwritten by their
respective authors — leaders o f the movement. SACH in its
present format is a research library open to scholars and stu­
dents interested in Rabbinics, Jewish law, history, philosophy
and mysticism, especially Habad.
As previously mentioned, this library includes a number o f
older works, especially incunabula and prints from the 16th
and 17th centuries, which are shelved in a separate group, as
are Haggadot for Passover, Jewish calendars and books from
Hebrew printing houses in Russia pre-dating the decree o f
1836. As a rule, such works are o f historic value due to their
contents. Sometimes, their external appearance, that is bindings
and spines, arouses especial interest. For, imbedded inside are
occasionally found remnants or fragments o f older texts, such
as manuscripts or single pages surviving from an earlier print
on a Jewish religious subject. Jews are known for their sense
o f reverence to sacred texts. T o discard them as wastepaper,
whatever their size or shape, is considered sacrilegious. Instead,
such materials are consigned to perpetual storage in a syna­
gogue attic (Genizah), or put into the binding o f a newer book,
or just saved as sacred heirlooms. Over the past century, bib­
liographic analysis o f retrieved remnants, even small scraps cov­
ered with Hebrew writings, has led to some startling findings.
Piecing some o f them together in successive order has yielded
the information that the Talmud Bavli had been published in
its entirety in Spain and Portugal some twenty years before the
expulsion o f the Jewish people from those lands. Moreover,
comparisons with corresponding readings in copies known at
that time in Central Europe proved the existence o f two Talmud
versions — one “Ashkenazic” and one “Sephardic.” Prof. Haim
Z. Dimitrovsky, o f the Talmud faculty at the Hebrew University,