Masseches Shabbos, Sultzbach, 1755 – from the Manchester Machzike Hadas.

1755Manchester01I recently purchased this volume from one of my favorite book dealers, Israel Mizrachi of Brooklyn.  Two things caught my eye.

The first is that while I have other volumes of this edition of the Talmud, Shabbos is scarce.  This is because everyone learns Shabbos – those who follow the “daf yomi” program of learning a page every day start with it.  While the less used volumes often survive in relatively good condition, Shabbos is scarce.  This book is well used – one may say that many people have learned from it, and it will need repairs for loose pages and a damaged binding.

1755Manchester02The second is that this book is stamped in many places “Chevra Kinyan Sforim of the Beis Medrash Machzike Hadas, Manchester.  I don’t know how it journeyed from Manchester to Brooklyn, which is in New York, but it is a big, heavy volume.

The Machzike Hadas is, perhaps, the ‘mother synagogue’ of Chassidism in Manchester.  I believe that it was started about 1925, but more information would be welcome.

Rabbi David Zvi Schneebalg was the head of the Beis Din (Rabbinical Court) and Yeshiva of Vishnitz. The Schneebalg family lived through the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939 and the subsequent German occupation when they were able to escape. Rabbi David Zvi came to Manchester and became the Rabbi and Dayan of the Machzikei Hadath in 1947.  His son, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneebalg, who lived to be 100 years old and died in 2021, succeeded him in Manchester.

This edition of the Talmud was printed in Sulzbach by Meshulam Zalman son of Aharon (Fränkel), from 1755 to 1763.  It was the focus of a dispute between printers with a controversy between rabbis. Shortly after the beginning of printing this edition, the Proops brothers, printers of Amsterdam, appealed to the rabbis of the Council of the Four Lands with the contention that the printing of the Sulzbach edition was a violation of their printing rights. The printers in Amsterdam were then in the midst of publishing their own Talmud edition, which was an expensive undertaking.  They had received rabbinic approbations granting them exclusive rights to print the Talmud for a period of twenty-five years. Many rabbis hastened to ban the Sulzbach Talmud. They prohibited studying from that edition of the Talmud and ruled that the volumes should be burnt (!) or at least buried. The dispute persisted however as the rabbis of Fürth, led by Rabbi David Strauss, backed Rabbi  Zalman, the printer from Sulzbach.


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