Follow up to Why does the gemarah start on daf bet?.

The accepted (and most voted) answer says:

The simple explanation is that this is how the printers typeset it

This sounds like this decision was made for printing - numerous years after the Bavli was compiled. Apparently, whenever the Yerushalmi was printed, using the typesetting reasoning, something must have been different that they left that at page 1.

Why would there be that difference with the two? Or, is there some other reason as to why there is a difference?

(Note: In the linked question, various reasons are given as to why Bavli starts at daf bet. Here, I'm asking specifically, as to why there is a difference between the Bavli and Yerushalmi. From what I see, all the reasons mentioned for Bavli could have applied to Yerushalmi, but for some reason, they weren't. Why is that?)

  • 2
    Because they felt like it. Really, that’s the answer. Same reason why Bavli starts on daf Beis.
    – DonielF
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:22
  • 1
    Isn't page 1 a logical place to start?
    – Daniel
    Jun 3, 2018 at 20:14
  • 2
    I think the question should be why does the Bavli decide to begin on daf beis. Daf alef seems like a natural place to start to me. @Daniel
    – ezra
    Jun 3, 2018 at 21:19
  • @ezra the linked question already asks that.
    – Daniel
    Jun 3, 2018 at 22:03
  • 1
    @DanF The page numbers for the Bavli didn't exist until at least the 16th century.
    – Daniel
    Jun 4, 2018 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


There were no standards of printing. They were developed by different printers in different countries, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no numbers at all on original manuscripts. The Torah has no numeration. Whoever printed a book decided if and how to enumerate the text. Some books were arranged by full columns on each page. Many were arranged with four columns, two on the front and two on the back.

The first Hebrew book ever printed was the Commentary of Rashi on the Chumash, in Italy. Only in the second printing, in 1475, did the printer think of dating the printing, (historyofinformation.com: “Abraham Ben Garton issues first dated book, etc.”) something that we consider today obvious to include.

When the Talmud was printed (first 16 tractates printed by Joshua Soncino in 1483; [first complete edition, finished in 1523, by Daniel Bomberg, a non-Jewish printer] (Wikipedia, “Daniel Bomberg”), the decision was made to include not only the text of the Talmud, but also two commentaries: Rashi and Tosafot. Someone decided to deem the cover page as “Alef” (without the letter) and the first page of actual text as page “Beit.”

The publisher of Talmud Yerushalmi was at a later time and someone decided to count page ”Alef” as the first page of text, not counting the title page. In a desire to make it easier to remember, most printers kept the same pagination of the Talmud until it became accepted practice. [I remember seeing a one-volume copy of the Talmud that had only the text of the Talmud and the Rashi commentary, printed in the early 20th century by a newspaper company, iirc, which had different pagination, but it was not accepted and I heard from a Rabbi that it was decried.]

  • 1
    Interesting, thanks and +1. I allowed myself to edit slightly to improve readability by introducing paragraph breaks. You can revert if you don't like it.
    – mbloch
    Jun 5, 2018 at 8:54
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    Thanks. I haven't seen you around here for a while. (Indirect) regards from Grussgotts.
    – DanF
    Jun 5, 2018 at 13:08
  • Yes I’ve been busy Baruch HaShem. Spent three weeks in Eretz Yisrael for Pesach. Please return best regards! Jun 5, 2018 at 22:30

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