This text was prepared by William Gross:
This is the first edition of the She'elot ve-Teshuvot from Shlomo ben Menachem Kaboli. The second edition was published in Prague in 1590. It was published by Eliezer ben Isaac Ashkenazi, an itinerant printer who plied his trade for several decades in the second half of the sixteenth century in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Active in Lublin, Constantinople, and Safed, Eliezer was the first to print books in Erez Israel. In Safed, Eliezer printed Lekah Tov (1577), which was not only the first book to be printed in the Middle East, but is also the first book printed in Asia, excluding Chinese imprints. He printed two additional works before returning briefly to Constantinople and then, in 1587, again in Safed, resumed printing, issuing three more titles. It is assumed that he died shortly afterwards, perhaps due to an epidemic in Safed. It would be two hundred forty-five years before another book would be printed in Safed.
Ashkenazi's ability to move between and function in these disparate locations is an example of the fluidity of contemporary Jewish society. His motivation in relocating reflects both the political and economic reality of sixteenth-century Jewish life as well as Eliezer's personal circumstances. The wide spectrum of the books he printed reflects the diverse interests and needs of these Jewish communities, encompassing Talmudic treatises, Kabbalistic commentaries, and poetry.
(Based on MARVIN J. HELLER, "Early Hebrew Printing from Lublin to Safed: The Journeys of Eliezer ben Isaac Ashkenazi," Jewish Culture and History, 4:1, 81-96, DOI: 10.1080/1462169X.2001.10511954)
The frontispiece is the same as the one Ashkenazi used for the first book printed in Safed. It must have traveled with him from Constantinople to the Holy City.