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The Talmud: Ketuboth is Published Alone

Among single tractates of the Talmud published, there are two in the Library's holdings which are of singular interest. In 1597-98 Ketuboth was published in Kuru Tschechme, a suburb of Constantinople, "in the house of the noble lady Reyna ... the widow of the great and noble leader of Israel, the Duke Don Yosef Nasi." Why publish the tractate Ketuboth and no other? True, the tractate was much favored by scholars and students alike, but it also might have been published because on the death of the Lady Reyna's husband, his estate was either depleted or confiscated by the Sultan, and all she was permitted to inherit was the dowry she had brought to the marriage, as attested to in her ketubah (marriage contract). This inheritance enabled her to establish and maintain a Hebrew press. Pious woman that she was, she expressed her gratitude through publication of the Talmud tractate that deals with marriage contracts, Ketuboth.

Sources: Abraham J. Karp, From the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, (DC: Library of Congress, 1991).