||Prospectus for a Kizzur ha-Talmud R. Chaim Tchernowitz, (Rav Za’ir). This copy has the original wrappers (part of the enumeration of leaves). The outer wrapper (title) states that it is Kizzur ha-Talmud, tractates Berakhot, Rosh HaShanah, and Yoma, from the Babylonian Talmud. It is further described as the first Order part one. Along the side are the words Prospectus in Hebrew and Latin letters. On the verso the purpose of Kizzur ha-Talmud is formulated. It is noted that the Talmud is the life of the Jewish people and has been so throughout the exile. Now, however, the life of the Jewish people has changed, and they draw from other foreign sources. The Torah has become a matter of letters, understood only with great difficulty, and, as a result, becomes forgotten from Israel. The author hopes to rectify this with his Kizzur ha-Talmud. It will be an abridged work in quantity but not in quality. Rav Za’ir then develops this theme, and on two pages provides an example from the first chapter of Berakhot. A list of contents for tractates Berakhot, Rosh HaShanah, and Yoma concludes the Prospectus. At the bottom of the final page is the price, 15 francs, and where it can be purchased.
R. Chaim Tchernowitz (Rav Za’ir, 1871–1949) was born in Sebesh, Russia, studied in Lithuania and obtained semikhah from R. Isaac Elchanan Spektor of Kovno in 1896. Moving to Odessa the following year, he founded his own yeshivah, eventually transforming it into a rabbinical seminary (1907) which attracted many students from the Jewish intelligentsia in Russia, including Hayyim Nahman Bialik and Joseph Klausner. Tchernowitz’s ambition was to combine traditional study with modern research in order to rejuvenate Jewish learning. R. Tchernowitz received a Ph.D from the University of Wuerzburg in 1914. Settling in the United States in 1923, he taught Talmud at the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
R. Tchernowitz wrote scholarly and popular works. He published studies on the codes of literature preceding R. Joseph Caro, Le-Toledot ha-Shulhan Arukh ve-Hitpashetuto. In a more popular vein he wrote a series of general articles on the Talmud. R. Tchernowitz’s primary interest was to produce a full historical account of the development of the halakhah. His concern was to present the halakhah not in its final crystallization but in its development beginning in pre-Mosaic times. His Toledot ha-Halakhah (4 vols., 1935–50) covers the period up to the destruction of the Second Temple, and Toledot ha-Posekim (3 vols., 1946–47) deals with the post-talmudic, geonic, and medieval periods. These works are widely used by students of the history of Jewish law.