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What is the tosfos yeshanim? It is in brackets and small letters in the vilna shas. How do they differ from the regular tosfos?

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There were many versions of tosafos on most tractates. Starting about the time of Rabeenu Tam and his nephew R"I Hazaken -R Yitzchak of Dampierre, many of the senior talmidim of the great tosafists in france compiled their masters "tosafos" on various tractates, often adding their own remarks as well. These were variously referred to as tosafos of the master or the pupil. Some of the later Tosafists (such as Mahr"M RoSh and R eliezer mtuch) compiled versions of Tosafos themselves, with the purpose of giving over the teachings of the R"I and his great talmidim, their own comments only added "אגב".

When tosfos was added to the page of early editions of the talmud, the particualr tosfos printed depended mostly on what was available to the publisher. Later Achronim often had other versions of Tosfos in manuscript. These were sometimes referred as "Tosfos Yeshonim" as in old manuscript of tosfos. There is no connection between tosfos yeshanim for one tractate and tosfos yeshanim on another. Authorship must be determined for each one individually(often there isn't an easy way for it to be determined definitively). Some of the tosfos yeshanim manuscripts were eventually printed on the margins of later editions of the talmud. While the tosfos yeshanim were originally a full version of tosafos on that tractate, the printers often only included small glosses which they consided to be substantially different than the tosfos already printed on the page, which is what you are seeing on the margins in the Vilna Shas.

Hope this was helpful.

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  • Good post. Do you have a source for this sentence? "While the tosfos yeshanim were originally a full version of tosafos on that tractate, the printers often only included small glosses which they consided to be substantially different than the tosfos already printed on the page...."? Some Tosafot collections are fragmentary, isn't is possible some of those printed on some masechtot were all there was? Or do we know from the publishers' words what they did?
    – Avraham
    Oct 30, 2023 at 21:51
  • @Avraham Don't have a source offhand. It is indeed possible that in some instances all the publishers had were fragments but this is because the manuscript scribe already omitted what he considered repetitve. The originals work was not fragmentary. While there are some manuscripts that did include "gilyonos" (glosses on the margins) from other tosafists these were usually inserted into the tosafos itself not printed later as tosfos yeshonim. Oct 31, 2023 at 0:09

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