Babylonian Talmud, Seder Zera'im, Venice: Daniel Bomberg [1543-44]
Zera'im (seeds) is the first of the six orders of the Mishnah. With the exception of the first tractate, Berakhot, all the tractates in Zera'im deal with agricultural laws which apply in the Land of Israel. It is not surprising therefore that while there is a gemara in the Jerusalem Talmud for the whole of the order Zera'im, the Babylonian Talmud only has gemara for Berakhot. As a result, Daniel Bomberg, printed tractate Berakhot as a separate volume. The balance of the order Zera'im, was supplemented with the commentary of Maimonides and is presented here.
The third and final edition of the Talmud printed by the press of Daniel Bomberg was produced between 1543 and 1549 primarily under the supervision of Cornelius Adelkind. Among the distinguishing features of this edition are a significant number (perhaps as many as twenty) forged, or back dated, title pages. Sometime in 1543, Adelkind, became concerned about objections to, and possible prohibitions against the printing of the Talmud by reactionary forces within the Catholic Church, whose influence was increasing in the wake of the Church's struggle against the Reformation. To circumvent their opposition, tractates were back dated and sold as if they were leftover inventory remaining in the warehouse from earlier editions. However, when Marco Antonio Giustiniani, a Venetian nobleman, began to openly print the Talmud in 1546 without opposition, Adelkind again printed the authentic date on the title pages. The dating of this volume has been established on the basis of typographic variants to between 1543 and mid-1544.
Literature: Heller, Printing the Talmud, p.175-78; Abraham Rosenthal, "Daniel Bomberg and his Talmud Editions," in Gli Ebrei e Venezia, pp. 392-395.
Provenance: Mordecai Bassani (ca. 1632-1703)-his inscription dated 1672 on title page. Bassani was an Italian rabbi and polemicist who served as rabbi of the entire Verona community, both Ashkenazim and Sefardim and wrote about the relationship between the two Veronese Jewish communities. He also wrote Sefer Bikkurim, containing deathbed prayers and usages.; Reshit Hokhma-their stamp on 86v.