Talmud – Masseches Zevachim,Amsterdam, Imanuel Benveniste, 1647

6j Zvachim_0001This is in my Antique Sforim collection, to make a change from the Anglo Judaica collection that I usually write about.

This volume, Tractate Zevachim, was printed by Emanuel Benveniste, who is believed to have been born in Spain, and came to Amsterdam via Italy.  He lived in Vlooienburg, an area where many Sephardic Jews resided, and he brought printing type with him from Venice.

Under the decorative title “Maseches Zevachim the Hebrew reads: with the commentaries of Rashi, and Tosefos, Piskei Tosafos, Rabbenu Asher and the commentary on Mishnayos by the Rambam (Maimonides).  Similar to that printed in the capital city Venice at the printing house of Giustiniani with beautiful letters, ink, paper, lacking nothing, without corrections in form or measure, page by page exact with with some good characteristics.”

Marco Giustiniani’s printing house produced his edition of the Talmud in 1546-61 in Venice.

The word Ot (aleph, vav, taf) in larger letters at the bottom right, signifies the year of printing as the letters add up to 407, which is 5407 = 1647.

I like this particular edition because of its small size – it is quarto, instead of the large unwieldy folio editions.

6j Zvachim_0002My copy has a page of old inscriptions from a previous owner.

The bottom of the first page below is rather stained.

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The page below (with acknowledgement to Rabbi Dov Winston of Young Israel of Merrick, NY, USA, who mentioned it in his drosha (sermon) this past Shabbos, has a discussion about the sacrifices offered by Yisro, the title character in this weeks parsha (Torah reading).  Twelve lines up from the bottom the Gemara says that it is written that before the giving of the Torah, Yisro, who was the father-in-law of Moses, made a burnt offering and sacrifices to God.  The word zevachim  refers to sacrifices so evidently peace offerings were sacrificed before the giving of the Torah. The Gemara offers various explanations.

As can be seen, the typeface, although small, is very clear and readable.

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Tractate Zevachim is followed by the Rambam’s commentary on the Mishnayos:

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On the last page the printer has demonstrated his art by arranging the type in the form of two wine glasses.

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At the end the typesetter has signed his work:
By the worker in this holy work, Uri Veibesh the son of the late Rabbi Aharon the Levi from Amsterdam.

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