When and What was the first Hebrew Sefer that was mass published?

  • In light of the comments below, please edit this question to be about the first Sefer that was printed for mass distribution to a Mesorah-minded Jewish audience. Otherwise we all just go in circles trying to understand the true meaning of the question and the answers range from tongue-in-cheek to absurd.
    – Seth J
    Feb 2, 2011 at 2:41

4 Answers 4


The first dated Hebrew printed sefer was Rashi's commentary on Torah, which was printed in 1475. From the Jewish Encyclopedia:

The date at which printing in Hebrew began can not be definitely established. There is a whole series of works without date or place (12-21) which experts are inclined to assign to Rome (where Latin printing began in 1467), and any or all of these may be anterior to the first dated work, which is an edition of Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, published in Reggio, Calabria, by Abraham Garton, Feb. 5, 1475. It may be assumed that the actual printing of this work took some time, and that it was begun in the latter part of 1474. Even this must have been preceded by the printing of the four parts of the Ṭurim of Jacob b.Asher, finished July 3, 1475, in Piove di Sacco by Meshullam Cusi, which must have taken considerably longer to print than the Rashi.

There is a picture of the Rashi commentary here, as well as more information about the birth of Jewish printing.

Wikipedia also has a chart of a 101 of the earliest printed sefarim.


The Teshuvos ha-Rashba more here:



Hard to tell. Didn't Avraham write Sefer Y'tzira? Not sure if he published it, though. Certainly some of the sifre tora Moshe wrote were published.

  • 1
    Publishing usually implies printing Jan 25, 2011 at 3:54
  • 2
    @R'SimchasTorah, I don't think so. Cf. also google.com/search?q=%22published+on|to+the+web%22 . Perhaps the question author can clarify for us what he meant, though.
    – msh210
    Jan 25, 2011 at 4:02
  • I agree with msh210 that the term "publish" technically means to make available to the public usually by way of copies. To the layman (No offense Gershon, Simchas) however, in the context of Seforim it means to be printed.
    – Yahu
    Jan 25, 2011 at 4:16
  • First here is a nifty google command: google.com/… Jan 25, 2011 at 4:46
  • And i said usually Jan 25, 2011 at 4:46

The question's been changed to to read "mass published" now rather than "published". I think the g'mara would qualify. I mean, twenty-four cartloads were burned in Paris in 1242 or 1243, right? But perhaps it wasn't the first.

  • 3
    If you're going to take the question that way, then it would probably have to be the Sefer Torah. Rav Huna alone wrote seventy of them (Bava Basra 14a). Much earlier than that, there were 480 shuls in pre-Destruction Jerusalem (Eichah Rabbah, Pesichta 12), and we can assume that each of them had at least one Torah scroll.
    – Alex
    Jan 30, 2011 at 7:07

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