Judaic Treasures of the
Publishing of the Talmud on a grand scale began a dozen years later in Venice at the press of Daniel Bomberg, who, having received the approval of Pope Leo X, published the complete Talmud in 1520-23. This editio princeps of the Talmud set the form which has been followed by editions of the Talmud to the present: the number and composition of the pages, a section of the Mishnah text followed by its Gemara, the commentary of Rashi on the inner margin, and that of the tosaphists on the outer. The Rashi commentary is a brief, precise explanation of the text &151; the text being in Aramaic and without vowel points or punctuation. The tosaphoth are longer, more involved discussions of the legal implications of the text, begun by Rashi's disciples-his two grandsons, Jacob Tam and Samuel ben Meir being among the leaders-and carried on in the schools in France and Germany in the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. The tosaphoth, which began as commentary on the commentary of Rashi, spawned other commentaries, so that a current edition of the Talmud would contain some two dozen major and more than one hundred minor commentaries. The uniformity of the pages in all published editions was a double boon. It was of great practical usefulness to Talmud scholars, for it made for easy, standard reference citation; and it served as a symbol of the unity of the Jewish people, which Talmud studies enhanced. While the contents of the Talmud made for uniformity through law, its form made for an at homeness with every edition, be it of Venice, Constantinople, Cracow, Lublin, Amsterdam, Frankfort, Warsaw, or Vilna.
The Library has volumes from all four Venice editions and a copy of the editio princeps of the Palestinian Talmud, published by Bomberg in 1523. The Venice editions were the handiwork of a German Jewish printer who had settled in Padua, Israel Adelkind. Bomberg brought him to Venice to supervise his Hebrew press. it was he who designed the pages which became the standard. Adelkind also managed the printing establishment of Tobias Foa in Sabionetta, where he oversaw the printing of a projected edition of the Talmud begun in 1553 but never completed. What brought this project to an end was the tragic fate that befell a previously successful undertaking of Adelkind's, a truly magnificent edition of the Talmud printed in the Hebrew publishing house of Marco Antonio Giustiniani.