By Eli Genauer
A recent book auction by Kestenbaum featured the following listing:
AUCTION 65: JUNE 25TH, 2015
LOT: 111 (TALMUD, BABYLONIAN). Masechta Sotah. With commentaries by Rashi, Tosaphoth, Maimonides and Rabbeinu Asher. FIRST BOMBERG EDITION .. ……Vinograd, Venice 27; Habermann, Bomberg 22.
Daniel Bomberg, Venice: 1520.
This Tractate contains the only appearance of a printed text illustration throughout the entire Talmud issued by Bomberg (see f. 43r).
The reference to ( see f.43r ) indicates that this singular printed diagram in the Bomberg Shas appears on Daf 43A in Sotah.
We find other instances of a Bomberg edition of tractate Sotah being offered for sale, and they contain the same basic information.
Kedem Auctions Auction no. 40 - Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical LettersWednesday, September 3, 2014 - 17:00Books & ManuscriptsTractate Sotah – Venice, 1520 – Bomberg Printing, First EditionBabylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah – with Rashi commentary and Tosfot, Piskei Tosfot and Rambam's commentary on the Mishna. Venice, 1520. Printed by Daniel Bomberg, first edition.
On Leaf 43, 1 is an illustrative sketch on Rashi commentary. This is the only printed sketch found in the Bomberg edition of the Talmud. Bomberg left the rest of the places which were designated for sketches and illustrations empty to complete with drawings after printing.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah, Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1520
17 DECEMBER 2008 | 10:00 AM ESTNEW YORKBabylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah, Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1520Folio (13¾ x 9½ in.; 350 x 242 mm.Folio 43r. provides the only example of the inclusion of a printed diagram in the Bomberg Talmud. In all other tractates, Bomberg simply left a blank space in which an individual could insert a diagrammatic drawing.
The source for this information most likely came from “Maamar al Hadfasat HaTalmud” by Raphael Nathan Nata Rabbinovicz. It was first printed in 1868 as a hakdamah to his book Dikdukei Sofrim on Masechet Brachot and later added on to by Rabbinovicz and printed as a separate book.
I refer to this edition: Maamar 'al hadpasat ha-Talmud with Additions, ed. A.M. Habermann, Mossad ha-Rav Kook, Jerusalem: 2006
On page 41, Rabbinowicz, writing about the first Bomberg edition, states as follows
״ובכל התלמוד (וכן בכל הדפוסים הישנים עד דפוס בערמן) נשמטו הציורים בגמרא, רש״י ותוספות,ונשאר מקומם חלק, מלבד בסוטה מג. שישנו הציור ברש״י
He seems to be saying that not only in the Bomberg first edition was this the only diagram included, but also in subsequent Bomberg editions this remained the only diagram included. He even casts a wider net and says that this was the only diagram included in any set of the Talmud until the Berman edition of Frankfurt an Der Oder printed from 1697-1699.
Is this correct? I would have to say it is mostly correct but not completely.
It can be accessed at http://aleph.nli.org.il/nnl/dig/bk_sub.html
It is a wonderful source for early printed books and it contains every tractate of the first edition of the Bomberg Shas. What may a bit less known is that it also contains one tractate of the third edition of the Bomberg Shas, Masechet Zevachim, printed in 1548. (1)
At first I thought that this diagram of the Yesod of the Mizbeach had been drawn in by hand, but an analysis of the difference in the way this page was set up versus the same page in the first two editions lead me to conclude that this diagram was added by the Bomberg editors intentionally and was included as part of the printed page. Aside from that, I had the privilege of looking at this same page in a different copy held by the JTS Library with Sharon Lieberman Mintz, ( JTS Curator of Jewish Art) and she confirmed that this mechanical drawing and the one available online at the NLI website were exactly the same.
If we look at the 1520 edition, we can see the problem that the editors faced
Here is both 53A and 54A
Let’s take a closer look at the bottom of 53B, where the diagram appears in the third edition
After a lengthy explanation by Rashi on the makeup of the Yesod, he adds the word “Kazeh”. It is right at the bottom. Usually, we would find an empty space there, but alas, there is no room.
The empty space where the diagram should go is not on the bottom of 53B, but rather on the top of 54A. It has nothing to do with the Rashi that begins with the word “Retzuah”.
So it is possible that by the third edition of Zevachim, the Bomberg editors decided to fix that. They set the type for 53B in a different manner, allowing them the space for a diagram, and they even included the diagram.
I thought I might find other diagrams in this third Bomberg edition and spent an afternoon at the JTS Library looking through various Masechtot of that edition, but did not find another diagram. As far as I know, this was the only diagram added to the third edition. There is no way to know for sure why the Bomberg editors added this one, just as there is no way to know why the diagram on Sotah 43A was included in the first edition. But at least one can see what might have bothered them here.
 I refer to this as the third edition although there is much discussion as to whether this might actually be a fourth edition. For more background on this, please see Marvin J. Heller, Printing the Talmud (A History of the Early Printed Editions of the Talmud )Im Hasefer, Brooklyn, NY 1992, pages 167-180