I recall from my time in Yeshiva that the version of the Chiddushei HaRitva in use in the 19th century was clearly not the original (as proved from quotations in the Shita Mikubetzes), and that the original was found recently and is published as the "Ritva HaChadash".

Who wrote the pseudo-Ritva, and how did it enter mainstream circulation? When was the original Ritva lost, and how/where was the original Ritva rediscovered?

EDIT: e.g. here is the title page for a "Ritva HaChadash" on Bava Metziah. If you have Otzar HaChochmah, you can get the whole book. Mossad HaRav Kook apparently also has versions of them; all I could glean was that they were from the Cairo genizah.

  • Could it be a censor's error? – Noach MiFrankfurt May 12 '14 at 20:38
  • If anyone can verify that there actually are these editions, that would greatly improve the value of this question. – Double AA May 12 '14 at 21:02
  • @Arithmomaniac which mashechta are you referring to? There have been different editions as well as mis-attributions in a few of them (such as Masheches Shabbos, where the 19th century version is now thought to be the Ran) – הנער הזה May 12 '14 at 21:32
  • @DoubleAA just added an example title page from Otzar HaChochmah – Arithmomaniac May 13 '14 at 0:58
  • @Arithmomaniac I remember on Gittin it was Rabbeinu (Don) Kraskis – Y     e     z May 13 '14 at 2:07

There's a significant amount of literature on this which I'm not going to look up right now, so please excuse the lack of sources; I'll try to edit them in later (they were all found by following the footnotes to introductions to the Mosad Harav Kook editions of the relevant mesechtos, even though the most thorough introduction I believe is that on Eiruvin which includes a short biography of the Ritva)

First of all, it's well known that the Ritva wrote two versions of his commentary on most masechtos, an earlier long one and then a shortened version. For examples, see his comments on Shavuos 26b and Avodah Zara 67b, where he refers to an earlier version of his work. The Nimukei Yosef to Nedarim 40b even implies that the Ritva wrote three versions of his commentary! Almost all of the published Ritvas are from his later edition, but for this reason, it could even be the case that both sets were written by the Ritva (see below).

Here are a few of the masechtos with important Ritva notes (other masechtos with Ritva that I haven't discussed are basically confirmed actual Ritva as everyone has/had them):

  • Berachos commentary was published under R. Yehudah Hachasid and then later under the title 'Shita LeR"A Ashbieli', as it was thought that it might be the Ritva's father, but today it's fairly well accepted that this work is by the Ritva himself.

  • Shabbos the version published in Sloniki called 'Chidushei Haritva' is actually the Ran, which was already noticed and accepted by several achronim, among them the Shita Mekubetzes, Chida, Sokotchover Rebbe, and R. Elchanan Wasserman. Instead, the 'real' Chiddushei HaRitva was known to many of these achronim and published by R. S. Z. Reichman and later by Mosad Harav Kook.

  • Nedarim is today published with almost every version of Chidushei HaRitva, though its true author is the subject of controversy among the Achronim and scholars. It's written in a bit of a different style and sometimes doesn't fit with how the Nimukei Yosef quotes the Ritva, but the reason for this may be that the chiddushim were meant to be a halakha sefer (see the long intro in Mosad Harav Kook version).

  • Gitin what used to be published as Chidushei Ritva to Gitin has been pretty conclusively shown to actually have been written by Rabbeinu Kreskas Vital, a contemporary of the Ritva. However, we have another manuscript of the Ritva's commentary to this masechta as well, and they might be referred to as Ritva Hachadash. (Some people believe that this newer version is also not actually the Ritva - see intro to Mosad Harav Kook Ritva on Chullin).

  • Kiddushin also has (in the Mosad Harav Kook edition) two versions, both of which are a bit unusual. One, the one ironically called 'Mahadurah Basra' because it was published later, is believed (by the editor) to be an earlier version. However, this version has passages in it that seem to have been written by the Ramah (R. Meir Abulafia), and the style is different than that of the Ritva's commentaries that we know of. The one that was published many more times and more well known is also slightly unusual in that he doesn't seem to quote the Rashba at all (though this isn't so unusual) and also because parts of the commentary are actually Tosfos Rid that was together in the same manuscript. Additionally, some things quotes by the Nimukei Yosef from the Ritva don't appear in this commentary.

  • Bava Metsia has two versions, the 'old' one that was known to all of the achronim, and another newly published one, sometimes called the Chidushei Ritva Hachadash, which is the version that is quoted in the Shitah Mekubetzes. Several Achronim have noticed that the Ritva quoted in the Shitah and the Ritva which they had were very different, but none of them (including the Devar Avraham and R. Y.Y. Weinberg) concluded that they were written by different people. The Mosad Harav Kook version published this newer one with Chidushei HaRitva on Bava Metzia, plus the first eleven blatt of the new version. The author of the introduction to that version believes that both of these peirushim were written by the Ritva, one being his earlier version and the other is the later version. However, not all scholars agree with his assessment (again, see intro to Ritva on Eiruvin).

  • Shvuos also has two versions, and like in the case of Bava Metsia, some believe that both versions were written by the Ritva, one being the earlier edition and the other being the later edition. However, I again defer to the editor of the Mosad Harav Kook version of Shvuos, who does not believe that to be the case, and he thinks that only the known version is the authentic (meaning actually written by the Ritva) one.

  • Nidah is indeed the Ritva, but only up until the seventh perek - everything afterwords is actually part of Chidushei HaRashba, and there are very obvisous proofs to this.

  • 2
    Odd how of all the Rishonim, there's so much confusion over the Ritva. – Arithmomaniac May 14 '14 at 2:02
  • 1
    @Arithmomaniac not so odd. It wasn't as popular as the Ramabn or Rashba, and his style is more similar to that of his (relative) contemporaries. Many great Rishonim had even worse mazel than the Ritva - imagine if we had the complete peirush of the Ravad on Shas! – הנער הזה May 14 '14 at 6:09
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    @Matt or the rambam on shas! – mevaqesh Aug 31 '15 at 2:56

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