Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Hapsburgs vs. the Romanovs Or: Why the Sprecher Shas Beats the Romm Shas

                                             by Dr. Shlomo Sprecher (whose wife purchased a pristine Lemberg Sprecher Shas for her husband’s birthday)

The Lemberg Sprecher Shas (printed in the 1860s) came into immediate use in last week’s Daf HaYomi cycle. The Tosefot on Ketubot 98B cites a query that Rabbeinu Yaakov-Yisrael directed to the Rabbeinu Tam regarding a significant inadvertent over-payment made by an unsuspecting Gentile debtor in paying off his debt to a Jewish moneylender. The moneylender’s agent wished to share in the unexpected windfall, whereas, of course, the moneylender wanted the over-payment for himself in its entirety. What is notable about the query are five Hebrew words “the Gentile could no longer be found,” and so the only issue to be resolved was into whose pocket was the excess to be deposited. What triggered an investigation into this Tosafot was the Rishon with two personal names, Rabbeinu Yaakov-Yisrael, seemingly a feature he shared with no other Rishonim. Turning to Urbach’s classic Ba’alei Tosefot  revealed Urbach citing Haberman citing Urbach that there is internal censorship in that passage. Sure enough, comparing the Lemberg Shas version of Tosefot with the Romm version, quickly proved that the five-word passage was created out of whole cloth by the editors of the Romm Shas not to offend the Russian authorities. Rav Dovid Cohen, in his comprehensive sefer on censored alterations in the Shas missed this one.

A classic Vilna Edition of the Talmud

Sprecher Lemberg Shas

The Sprecher Printing of the Talmud

The Sprecher Printing of the Talmud

R. Dovid Cohen's work on censored Talmudic Portions

1 comment:

  1. Of course, the Romm's substitution of the term AKU"M for the original NOKHRI is a constant throughout their editions.