Five Books of the Torah with Targum Onkelos and Rashi – Incunabula – Bologna, 1482 – First Printing of the Pentateuch to Include Targum Onkelos and Rashi – One of the First Books of the Bible Printed with Vocalization and Cantillation Marks – Impressive, Wide-Margined Copy

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Five Books of the Torah, with Targum Onkelos and Rashi. [Bologna: Abraham son of Haim de Tintori, for Joseph son of Abraham Caravita, 1482]. Incunabula.

First Pentateuch to include both the text of the Torah and Targum Onkelos and Rashi's commentary. This may also be the first Pentateuch printed with vocalization and cantillation marks (another early Torah edition with vocalization and cantillation, dated ca. 1480, was printed by Isaac son of Aaron d'Este and Moses son of Eliezer Refael. it is unknown whether it was printed before or after the present Pentateuch)

Beautiful print, from the early days of Hebrew printing, on exceptionally high-quality paper. The text was printed using two different types: the text of the Torah, the page headings and the initial words of the Targum, commentary and colophon were printed in large, Sephardic square type. Targum Onkelos, Rashi's commentary, the total of verses and colophon were printed in Italian semi-cursive type.

The present edition was edited by Yosef Chaim son of Aharon Strasbourg Zarfati, and printed by Abraham son of Haim the Dyer (de Tintori) of Pesaro. The printing was commissioned and funded by Joseph son of Abraham Caravita.

The Rashi commentary in this edition served as basis for the Rashi text in most subsequent Bible editions. The famous printer Gershom Soncino, in his colophon to the Rimini edition of the Rashi commentary on the Torah, printed ca. 1525, testifies to the accuracy of the Rashi commentary in the present edition, writing that people had begged him to print Rashi's commentary on the Torah, stating that all the printed and manuscript versions available were inaccurate, though the Bologna edition edited by R. Yosef Strasbourg was the best of them all.

The present copy is incomplete. It contains most of the Five Books of the Torah (including the full colophon at the end). T

he final page contains a lengthy, detailed colophon by the proofreader, R. Yosef Chaim son of R. Aharon Strasbourg Zarfati, which serves as one of the earliest documentations on the history of Hebrew printing in Italy. He describes there how he resolved to come to the assistance of the Torah scholars struggling to understand the error-ridden versions of Rashi's commentary, and devoted himself to producing a corrected, accurate text. He also encouraged and supported the printing of the edition. He mentions R. Yosef Caravita, who funded the printing and employed professional, skilled print workers, especially Avraham son of R. Chaim de Tintori of Pesaro, who was a renowned printer of the highest caliber, with unparalleled expertise in his profession. The colophon concludes: "The work was completed on Friday, 5th Adar I 5242 (1482) in Bologna… and whoever studies from it shall see children, he shall prolong his days, and God's purpose shall prosper in his hand, life and peace upon Israel".

Masoretic glosses (trimmed) and markings in several places, in the margins and on the letters, added at an early point. The markings added to the letters, recreate an early scribal tradition and custom – the use of unique letters and crownlet decoration – detailed in the early book Sefer Tagi. The Rambam quotes this tradition in Hilchot Sefer Torah (chapter 7, law 8): "…and one should be particular with enlarged and reduced letters, letters with an overdot and unusual letters, such as the winding Pe and crooked letters, as transmitted from one scribe to another. And one should be particular about the crownlet decorations and their number, some letters have one crownlet and some have seven…". This style of writing disappeared with time, due to lack of uniformity between the different versions of the Masorah, and following the responsum of the Rambam who stated that a Torah scroll is not disqualified if lacking the extensive crownlet decoration and unusual letters. In the present copy, someone expended effort in preserving the tradition of crownlet decorations, adding many markings to letters throughout the book. Ownership inscription on final page in Italian script of "Shmuel son of R. Ben Tzion of Correggio, here in Florence 5333 [1573?]".

Incomplete copy. [171] leaves. Originally: [220] leaves. Lacking [49] leaves (first 46 leaves, two leaves from Parashat Tetzaveh and last blank leaf). Two leaves bound out of sequence. Collation: 6 8 (lacking gatherings 1-5 and first two leaves of gathering 6), 7-8 8, 9 9, 10 9 (lacking last leaf), 11 3 (lacking first leaf), 12-13 6, 14 10, 15 8, 16 6 (first leaf of gathering 16 bound in Parashat Bechukotai), 17 8, 18 10, 19 8, 20 10, 21 8, 22 4, 23 8, 24 6 (last leaf bound after first leaf of gathering 25), 25 10, 26-27 8, 28 5 (lacking last blank leaf). The gatherings are not marked (the opening words of each gathering were listed by P. Tishbi; see below).

33 cm. Wide margins (especially lower margin). Light-colored, thick, high-quality paper. Complete, fine leaves. Good condition. Stains, including minor dampstains. Dark stains to several leaves (affecting text in one place). Minor open tear to lower margin of one leaf in Parashat Balak; open tear to upper margin of a leaf in Parashat Devarim (neither of them affecting text), repaired with paper. Margins of several leaves reinforced with paper (primarily final leaves). Marginal open tears to final leaf, repaired with paper on recto and verso (along margins). Inscriptions. New wooden binding, with leather spine and fine metal clasps. Placed in a velvet-lined slipcase.

Only Hebrew book from the Incunabula period mentioning Bologna as place of printing.

The printer Abraham Chaim of Pesaro, from the de Tintori family, was the founder of Hebrew printing in Ferrara. He acquired the typeface from the printer Abraham Conat, as well as two sheets from the book Tur Yoreh De'ah which Conat had begun printing. Abraham Chaim completed the printing of the Tur, and printed an additional book in Ferrara – the Ralbag's commentary on the Book of Iyov. Both books were printed in 1477, and are the only books known to us from this printing firm. Despite his skills, he presumably did not succeed as an independent printer, and began working in various printing firms in other places. One can presume that he was involved in the printing of several books in Bologna, yet he is mentioned as a printer in Bologna only in the present Chumash edition. Printing a Pentateuch edition so soon after the advent of the printing press was a difficult, complex task, and not for nothing did the proofreader praise the printer so profusely in the colophon. He is also recorded as the printer of one other important book – the first complete Bible with vocalization and cantillation, produced in the printing firm of Josua Solomon son of Israel Natan Soncino, in Soncino, 1488 (see A.M. Habermann, HaSefer HaIvri BeHitpatchuto, Jerusalem 1968, pp. 84-86; Ch.D. Friedberg, Toldot HaDfus HaIvri BeMedinot Italia, Tel Aviv 1956, pp. 28-29; according to Friedberg, Abraham Chaim of Pesaro lived in Bologna from ca. 1481; see enclosed material).

Regarding the text of the Torah in this edition, see: Ch.D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, New York 1968, pp. 794-802. For a detailed description of this edition, see: P. Tishbi, in: Ohev Sefer, I, 1987, pp. 34-40, no. 26; Sh. Iakerson, Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York and Jerusalem, 2004, vol. I, pp. 85-89; A.K. Offenberg, Hebrew Incunabula in Public Collections, Nieuwkoop 1990, no. 3; Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Museum. pt. 13 (2004), Hebraica, pp. 26-27.

Most known copies were printed on vellum. Copies printed on paper are most rare (see Offenberg, ibid).

Incunabula and Early Manuscripts – 14th and 15th Centuries