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Fragment - Lehem Yehudah, R. Judah ben Samuel Lerma Sephardi, Sabbioneta 1554

פירוש מסכת אבות - לחם יהודה - First Edition

Listing Image
  • Lot Number 51271
  • Title (English) Lehem Yehudah
  • Title (Hebrew) פירוש מסכת אבות - לחם יהודה
  • Note Only Edition
  • Author R. Judah ben Samuel Lerma Sephardi
  • City Sabbioneta
  • Publisher Cornelius Adelkind at the Press of Tobias Foa
  • Publication Date 1554
  • Estimated Price - Low 200
  • Estimated Price - High 500

  • Item # 1904901
  • End Date
  • Start Date

Physical Description:

First edition, title in facsimile, 17-159 (of163, [1]) ff., 180:130 mm., age and damp staining, corners frayed, final 10 ff with small loss, bound in recent board.


Detailed Description:   

Commentary on Pirkei Avot by R. Judah ben Samuel Lerma Sephardi. Little is known about the author, except for the events related to the publication and burning of his book, Lehem Yehudah. The commentary is of a philosophic but traditional nature, based on the writings of R. Joseph Albo, R. Isaac Abrabanel, and R. Isaac Arama, as well as Talmudic and Midrashic sources. Nevertheless, R. Lerma is an original thinker, often expressing his own views. Printed with Lehem Yehudah is a short work, Derush at ha-Neshamah, a treatise on the soul. <p>In the introduction R. Lerma extols the value of Avot, noting that "He who wishes to be pious must look into Avot" (paraphrasing Berakhot 30a). Lerma promises to resolve difficulties in earlier commentators, who did not fully comprehend the depths of Avot. He calls his commentary Lehem Yehudah because "the bread (lehem) from which I have benefitted is the bread of Torah, for we find the Torah is called bread, as it states, 'Come, cat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mixed'" (Proverbs 9:5). R. Lerma continues, recounting what befell the first edition of his book:

I printed my book [Lehem Yehudah] in Venice at the beginning of  שד"י for the Almighty  (314 = 1553) has dealt very bitterly with me" (Ruth 1:20) and the ruler of Rome [the Pope] decreed throughout the kingdoms of Edom and they burned the Talmud and the Aggadot of the Talmud of R. Jacob ben Habib Z"L should be burned. In Venice, in the month of Marheshvan [bitter Heshvan], which is as its name, it was decreed that the Talmud, the Aggadot mentioned above, and Rav Alfasi and Mishnayot should be burned on the Holy Shabbat, and with them they burned all of my books, of which 1,500 copies had been printed. I lost all that was in Venice and not even a single copy remained to me, not even a single leaf from the original for a remembrance. I was forced to rewrite [my book] from memory from the beginning. After I had completed three chapters, I found one copy from the original press in the hands of a non-Jew, who had saved it from the fire. I acquired it from him at a dear  price, and when I looked into it, may His name be blessed, I saw that the second [copy] was more complete than the first.

The title page has a floral border. This frame was used earlier by Francesco Minizio Calvo at Rome, although it has also been suggested that rather than Francesco Calvo it was used by Giovanni da Castiglione for Andrea Calvo at Milan. However, if indeed Foa obtained it from Francesco it would be the second decorative border that he employed from Calvo (Mirkevet ha-Mishneh, 1551). The title page is dated Menachem [Av], "And God Almighty שד"י  (314 = July/August, 1554) bless you, and make  you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a multitude of people" (Genesis 28:3), and the work was completed, according to the colophon, on 27 Heshvan, "And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies around me; therefore I will offer in His tent  sacrifices of joy; I will sing, I will make music to the Lord ואזמרה לידוד (315 = Tuesday, November 2, 1554) (Psalms 27:6).


Hebrew Description:

אשר חבר ה"ר יהודה... בכמ"ר שמואללירמה ספרדי זלה"ה וקרא שם הספר הזה לחם יהודה...

תרועה אשירה ו'א'ז'מ'ר'ה' ל'י'ד'ו'ד' [שט"ו]...  דף קסג,ב: "נדפס ע"י קורניליו אדיל קינד והוגה ע"י יוסף בכ"מ יעקב שליט הי"ד ז"ל מפדואה בבית הנדיב כמה"ר טוביה פואה".  בהקדמתו מספר המחבר, שכבר הדפיס את הספר "פעם אחת בויניציאה ובראש שנת כי המר ש'ד'"י' לי [שי"ד]... בחדש מרחשון... גזרו בויניציאה ושרפו התלמוד... ובתוכם שרפו כל ספרי שהדפסתי שהיו אלף ות"ק ספרים... ולא נשאר לי מן הדפוס ההוא ולא מן  ההעתק אפי' עלה א' לזכרון והוכרחתי לחזור ולכותבו מדעתי כבתחלה ואחר שכתבתי ממנו שלשה פרקים מצאתי ספר אחד מן הדפוס ביד גוים שלקחו אותו מעל האש וקניתי אותו בדמים יקרים וראיתי מתוכו שזכני השי"ת ועשיתי השני יותר בשלמות מן הראשון  והוספתי בו דרושים הרבה... ואני אגלה לך הדרושי'...". 

עיין: א' יערי, מחקרי ספר, ירושלים תשי"ח, עמ' 208, 360.  על דפים מהדפסה מוקדמת של הוצאת סביוניטה,

עיין: נ' בן-מנחם, פתחי שערים, ירושלים תשל"ו, עמ' 201-200.


Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960  #000151130; Heller, 16th Century Hebrew Book