Mishnah Torah [Rabbinic Code]. Two volumes

AUCTION 7 | Tuesday, June 22nd, 1999 at 1:00
Fine Judaica: Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art The Property of Various Owners

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Lot 521

Mishnah Torah [Rabbinic Code]. Two volumes

Fifth Edition. FIRST EDITION WITH THE COMMENTARY OF R. MEIR OF PADUA. Wide margins.Two titles both with the three crowned printer’s device. (Yaari, Printer’s Marks, no. 18) Opening words of each chapter within decorative woodcut border. Marginalia I: ff.(2), 3-49, 51-389. Title page of first volume remounted front and back, lower margin and corner of first few leaves repaired. II: ff. (1) 394-767, (1). Gutter split. Both volumes stained and trace foxed in places. Later calf-backed boards, rubbed. Folio Vinograd, Venice 408; not in Adams.

Venice: Bragadin 1550

Est: $3,000 - $5,000
One of two rival editions published in the same year which caused an uproar among Italian Jewry. When seeking a printer for his commentary to Maimonides’ Code, Rabbi Meir of Padua was not satisfied with Giustiniani, then the only printer of Hebrew books in Venice, and determined to establish a new Hebrew press. This he did under the name of the enterprising and influenctal Christian, Alvise Bragadin, whose opening publication was this edition of Maimonides. Almost immediatly after this book appeared, Giustiniani published another edition of Maimonides without the notes of Rabbi Meir. Bragadin acused Giustiniani of publishing his edition at that time with the malicious intent of sabotaging his fledgling Hebrew press. As the dispute escalated, Rabbi Meir wrote to his deciple Rabbi Moses Isserles in Cracow for a judicial opinion. Because the dispute was between two Christians, but the third party plaintiff a Jew, the only remedy the rabbinical court could apply was to enjoin all Jews under pain of excommunication (“Cherem”), from purchasing the books of Giustiniani. In retaliation, the powerful Giustiniani sought to obtain a papal opinion condemning his rival’s books. As he too had just published Maimonides, he directed the scrutiny of the palpal censor to Rabbi Meir’s notes for content objectionable to the Church. Bragadin responded likewise and soon the cause of Hebrew books was laid before apostate Jews in Rome keen to use their newly born Christian zeal in the work of denunciation. Before long, Hebrew books were consumed in flames at burnings held in market places through out Italy. See D.W. Amram, The Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1963) pp. 255- 264