Auction No. 100

Rare and special items

June 20, 2017
Opening $ 1,500
Estimate $ 6,000 - $ 8,000
Sold for $ 3,416
Including buyer's premium

Babylonian Talmud - "Munich Shas," printed by survivors immediately after the Holocaust in Germany. Munich-Heidelberg, [1949]. Original bindings.

Specifications: Babylonian Talmud - complete set, 19 volumes. Based on the Vilna edition of the Talmud. Published by the Vaad Agudat HaRabbanim in the American Zone in Germany for refugees.

Background: During the destruction of European Jewry, Jewish libraries were destroyed throughout the continent. In their introduction, Rabbi Senig and Rabbi Rose emotionally describe the atrocities of the Nazis who took great pains to burn all the holy works: "It is embedded in our memories that bitter day, when the command was issued in the ghetto, from the evil Nazi government, to collect all the holy books in one location, so that they would be taken and destroyed, it was life-threatening to leave even one holy book." The survivors initiated one of the most interesting symbolic projects of the refugees in Germany: printing various works at improvised printing presses.

The masterpiece of this project was the printing of the entire Talmud. The Vaad Hatzala of the Agudat HaRabbanim in the United States was drafted to assist with this project, headed by Rabbi Rose and Rabbi Shmuel Abba Senig. They assisted with the printing of the Babylonian Talmud with funding from the Joint and the assistance of the American Military government. The Rabbis viewed this project as of first degree importance, as it enabled the study of gemara to return to its rightful place at the center of Jewish life. At first, one volume was printed with Tractates Nedarim and Kiddushin. In 1949, the entire Talmud was reprinted in 19 large volumes. This lot includes the complete set of this special edition Talmud. Only 600 sets were printed, and about 100 reached Israel.

Unique features: This edition, called the "Munich Shas" or "The Suvivors' Shas" is characterized with colored title pages that were designed to mark the printing of the Talmud on the scorched lands of Germany, with illustrations of the Jewish villages in Eretz Yisrael and a labor camp surrounded by barbed wire, with the [Hebrew] texts, "labor camp in Germany during the Nazi reign," and "You have almost destroyed me in the land, but I did not abandon your commands," integrated with elements of redemption. The unique title page illustrations were made by artist G. Rosenkrantz, as he signed in the margins. This edition is a valuable collectible.
This set of Talmud belonged to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher [1895-1983], a Gerrer chassid and Rosh Yeshiva who authored about 30 works on all elements of the Torah. He was the secretary of the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah in Poland, a founder of the Sefat Emet Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the head of the Torah Shlomo Institute. He won the Israel Prize for Torah Literature in 1963 and twice won the Rabbi Kook Prize for rabbinical literature (1944 and 1951). His grandsons include Professor Assa Kasher and Professor Rimon Kasher. His personal stamp appears a number of times in the volume with tractate Avodah Zarah, and the other volumes bear the stamp of the Torah Shlomo Institute.

Condition: Very fine-excellent. All the bindings are originals, some are lightly scuffed. Loose back binding to one volume.