Sometimes a book’s survival seems like a miracle. This week, I acquired a complete original 20-volume Vilna Shas printed by the Romm Printing House in Vilna in 1910.
The Shas is notable for having numerous ownership stamps and a signature of R. David Halberstam, the rav of Dobra, Slovakia when World War II broke out. A descendent of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz and a son of R. Menachem Mendel of Stropkov, R. David Halberstam and all seven of his siblings were murdered by the Nazis during the war.
The lone surviving members of the entire family clan was one granddaughter of R. Menachem Mendel and her elderly grandfather, whom she cared for in hiding during the war.
How the Talmud set survived the war complete and made its way to a home in Brooklyn, NY, is a mystery. The miracle of its survival, though, and the fact that it is still being studied from today is a testament to the perseverance and endurance of the Jews as a nation despite the devastations and persecutions they have faced.