Photo Credit: Israel Mizrahi

A copy I sold recently of the Bet Yosef printed in Venice in 1565, the Even HaEzer volume, had some unusual features. The copy was censored by Luigi da Bologna, a converted Jew working for the Inquisition as censor (active 1597?-1610) and inscribed with his name as censor at end of book: Visto per mi Fra Luigi da Bologna 1599.

Da Bologna was not the most brilliant of censors, and the Jewish Encyclopedia mentions several instances of his ignorance: “Luigi of Bologna (1602) deletes the words in the book legalcho, meaning to shave, incorrectly assuming it refers to a galach (priest)  (ed. Venice, 1545, § 86), where the cutting of the hair is referred to. Hence he read and took it to mean a cleric. In the book Pesakim Uktavim (ed. Venice, 1546) the same censor strikes out the first words in Tovel Vesheretz Beyado, (“He who bathes while he holds an insect in his hand,”) which he here connected incorrectly with Christian baptism.”


In this copy of Even HaEzer, De Bologna appears to have taken the task of being the Morality Police, censoring any words of intimate nature in which he found offense, even in the halachic setting. The centuries since have mostly erased his markings, and thankfully we can make out the original words.


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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and He can be reached at