Since the 19th century, the common format for the Talmud Bavli has followed the Tzurat haDaf of the Widow Romm and Brothers. Would there be any reason, other than familiarity, to maintain the Vilna page's layout, rather than restructuring a newer and easier format?

Partial answer: Steinsaltz abandons the tzaha"d in his original edition of his Hebrew translation. However, he still follows the basic set-up established centuries ago by Bomberg.

  • What do you mean by Steinsaltz following Bomberg? I think Romm followed Bomberg too. – Double AA Nov 9 '14 at 19:24
  • @DoubleAA, everyone follows Bomberg, at least to a degree, Steinsaltz follows the format, whereas Vilna follows the pagination as well. Source: I've seen all three. – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 9 '14 at 19:53
  • We've been having this discussion on an ongoing basis at work for the last 6 months or so. One comment is that Steinsaltz was attacked when he first abandoned tzaha"d, however after he was the first, we've seen Koren, Mechon-Mamre, and Torat Emet do the same without any repercussions. On another note, when it comes to computers, the traditional tzaha"d just doesn't fit well at all. (not that that's an argument for or against it, just a comment). – Popular Isn't Right Nov 9 '14 at 20:40
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An explanation given by someone who was involved with the Art Scroll Talmud was that it was done so that everyone could learn together and reference particular instances. This is similar to the reason why we picked up the nonJewish "chapters" in the Tanach. For example "Chapter 2" in Bereishis actually starts with the last part of "chapter 1" (Vayechulu Hashamayim). "Chapter 2" should really start at sheini (Aileh Toldos).

When learning the daf yomi (as an example) one needs to be able to have a standard reference point. Now that everyone had been using the Vilna Shas, we continue using the pagination. That is why Art Scroll repeated the Tzuras Hadaf for each subsection and marked the particular part being translated on the facing page.

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    So there is zero holiness to it. It is just a convention on equal standing with a Christian convention. No Lehavdil. – Double AA Nov 10 '14 at 0:14
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    @DoubleAA As far as I can tell that is correct. Of course, once a convention is set up, people tend to keep it. – sabbahillel Nov 10 '14 at 0:19
  • So I could create a new dad with the same pagination, but a different appearance, if I had that much time on my hands (come to think of it, that's an interesting idea for how to go through learning sha"s) – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 17 '14 at 19:54

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