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1 Rab Amram's view regarding the TefilUn Benediction has been trans-
mitted variously in different Foskim. Hence the actual view of Rab
Amram cannot be determined any more.



152 THE GEONIM

MS. O, 5, is like Mahzor Vitry, 14 — both contain the
addition p2nt3^f» — i'i'anDni.

Mahzor Vitry (28-32) also has the long piece on niDpn
miyo, which is found in MSS. S and (p. 7), and a part of
it is described by Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, in nniKTi nyc^,
ed. Bloch, 299, as having been taken from the Seder. On
the other hand, from the Manhig, 37 a, we should infer
justly that it was known to its author as an independent
Responsum, not as a part of the Seder, into which it may
have been incorporated later.

The reading of the Mahzor Vitry ^ ^^i instead of ^D'':, is
interesting. The latter is as the MSS. of the Seder and
Pardes (38 c) have it. n'% 1, 32 b, has it from the Seder.

Mahzor Vitry (78) has the addition offered by MSS. S
and 0, 19, line 14, and also on 214, that on ^6, line ^6.

The explicit treatment of the Torah lessons in MSS. S
and O, 19-23, probably originates in the nuivp niDPn, but.
as appears from Mahzor Vitry, 221, it was in the Seder, as
the Mahzor cites it without reference to the source, the way
of the author with quotations from the Seder, but not with
those from other Geonic sources.

Another agreement between the Mahzor and MS. S is in
the passage before the Shofar blowing (Mahz., ^^^ ; MS.
S, 28).

The next passage, on the Ten Penitential Days, occurs
alike in MSS. S and and in Mahzor Vitry, but not in
D""'n 'n-iN, I, 96 c.

The long excerpts from '•JonDyn niD"' ^ in Mahzor Vitry,
202, 280, '>,^% 375, which are not found in MSS. S and 0,
indicate that the Seder used by the Mahzor could not have
been identical with the model upon which the MSS. are
based. This, however, can be asserted, that MSS. S and

^ Epstein, Schemaja (reprinted from Monatsschrift, XLI), i8, note i, is of
the opinion that n:Di mino should be read instead of ■•o'loyn mo'', and his
view seems to be supported by the Sulzberger MS. of the original 1^0, in
which the sections on Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom ha-Kippur begin with the
passage in the printed ^"'0, introduced by the words >D-ioi-n mD\



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE 153

O are more closely related to the Mahzor Vitry than to
the printed text of the feeler. The latter obviously goes
back to another group of MSS. On the other hand, the
student must guard against the error of accepting, without
further investigation, the identity of the MSS. and the
printed text as a proof of the genuineness of the passages
in question ^. Changes must have taken place in the form
of the Seder at so early a date that all the versions that
have reached us must have been affected by them. For
example, though the long Responsum by Rabbi Natronai on
the Sabbath Evening Prayer (25 a) is literally the same in
the three versions, yet we are plainly shown by the Manhig,
23-4, and br\"2\^, 50, that it is an abridgment. In fact,
hitherto it has not been observed that a portion of the end
of this Responsum is to be found, by way of supplement, on
43 a. The observation on the formula in D"iisn was originally
a part of the Responsum given on p. 25 a. This we
learn from the Manliig, and there can be no doubt that the
author had the correct version. The copyist who omitted
it by mistake — and he must have lived in very early times,
as is shown by Albargeloni, D^nyn 'd, 173 — atoned for his
slip by putting it in under n1yDt^' 3n niD. How inappropriate
a place he gave it is shown by the fact that it was over-
looked there by all the scholars of our day. Professor
Schechter published a Genizah fragment in the J. Q. R.,
X, 6^6, in which the formula of DTisn has a wording
different from the one we are accustomed to, as follows :
D^i't^'n"' n:ui i?S"it:^"' . . . onian. This benediction runs in
pretty much the same way in another Genizah frag-
ment published by Professor Levi, R. £. J., LIII, 235 :
n'hm'y' nJUl |vv omD b^-y^^ . . . oman. This supposedly new
benediction is identical verbatim with that in a Responsum
by Rabbi Natronai, quoted in the Seder, 43 a, and in the

^ Priority is not always in favour of the versions of the Seder used
by the Poskim. For instance, there can be no doubt that what the bn"a\u,
184, cites from the Seder is Italian Minhag, and equally t'^s', 128, is not
quoting an original piece of the y"-ic .



154 THE GEONIM

Manhig, 23. The Genizah fragments are doubtless of
Palestinian origin, for not only, as Professor Levi remarks,
was this formula in the Yerushalnii used by Rabbi Isaiah
di Trani the Elder, Berakot, IV, 8 c, but the reading is also
found in the Vatican MS. of the Yerushalmi. It should be
noted, in addition, that the first verse of the Geullah in the
fragment published by Professor L^vi should read : '\h r\^)j
^b^ h^ iniK'y^ iv:^^, to which the verse . . . T\^'V in rhbn^
by Jose ben Jose forms an almost verbal parallel — ^further
proof for the Palestinian origin of this Payyetan.

Spurious Works attributed to the Geonim Nahshon
AND HIS Son Hai.

Many a work is ascribed to Rabbi Nahshon, the successor
of Rab Amram in the Gaonate of Sura, but his authorship
can be maintained with certainty only regarding one of
them, the '^Iggul, a treatise on the Jewish calendar system,
which Rabbi Eiiezer ben Jacob Belin, a German author
of the fifteenth century, incorporated in his book ni^nny,
Basle, 1527. That the others have been ascribed to him
rests upon a misunderstanding. Though Zunz in his work
Zur GescMchte und Literatur, 221, properly said that the
Rabbi Nahshon who was the author of the Halakic com-
pendium n?DiN"i, a compatriot as well as the namesake of
the Gaon, was separated from him by an interval of five
centuries, scholars like Miiller, in his MafteaJj, 131, and
Weiss, in his Dor, IV, 123, continue to speak of the work
n^lN"! ascribed to Rabbi Nahshon. In view of the fact
that it is extremely rare, and that its form is very bizarre,
I shall undertake to give a description of it, according to
the copy once owned by Halberstam, now in the Sulzberger
Collection of the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America.

The work consists of sixty pages — last one blank — small
quarto, and it was printed in the year 1565 ( = Dn?on) at
Constantinople, according to a MS. in the library of Don



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE I55

Joseph Nasi, accompanied by a double commentary from
the hand of Rabbi Isaac Onkeneira. The title of the book,
abbreviated, runs thus : i^>mr] ^IDV jn . . . T'n x^'d: n?D^^^■^
-j-iN* njnon nyjc' y^^2 9'^ \)^ni Tn^-nn hn^n n-in nnn x''^n^
. . . Nn^:"'P3iy pnv^ . . . n^nn Nin x5?n . . . pnv^i . ♦ . n^'^n n::^
^3 nr' nnu t^^^ ui^i ^c^t:' Dvn Nro^NDtr^p . . . D^rn^s i^ nK^yi

In the introduction the author names the 32nd Adar
of the year 5560 A.M., or 1300 c. E., as the date on
which he began his work, and mentions the fact that
he was the head of an Academy, Tnx 'n^HDl -iy:c> 'nsn,
frequented by 400 pupils, for the use of whom he had
written his little work^. Onkeneira tells us, in the intro-
duction to his commentary, that Don Joseph received the
MS. of the book from a distinguished old man, nnvnn
nT]'^bv 'n nnT:a Dn^n^lX Y^^^, which probably means when
Don Nasi still was in Portugal. At the request of Don
Joseph, Onkeneira wrote his two commentaries on the
book, the ratio of commentaries to book being ten to
one. The last page contains the praise, in prose and
verse, of the author, the commentator, and the publisher,
Don Joseph, composed by Rabbi Joseph ben Samuel ha-
Levi. Not until we reach this last page do we discover
that the author bore the title Gaon, but Rabbi Joseph
had no intention of identifying him with Rabbi Nahshon,
the Gaon of Sura. Rabbi Joseph's own father is denominated
Gaon. So far as I can recall, Rapoport, in his biography
of Rabbi Nathan, note 30, was the first to be misled by the
title of the booklet and to identify the author with the
Gaon Rabbi Nahshon. It need not be said that if Rapoport
had seen the book itself, he would never have entertained
the idea of attributing it to the Gaon. Not only does the
author, as was mentioned above, name the year 1300 as the
date, ])ut the book is based essentially upon Maimonides.
What Onkeneira says, that Rabbi Nahshon's title nroiNn

^ What city is meant by -|-i« is hard to say, probably Bagdad.



156 THE GEONIM

was composed of the two words no INI, "See Moses
[Maimonides]," is probably nothing more than an ingenious
conceit, but he is right in assuming the author's dependence
upon Maimonides. In point of fact, the book is scarcely
more than a brief abstract of the nsnDl nt:^n*^ niD^n of
Maimonides. The following illustrations show how closely
Eabbi Nahshon followed the views expressed in the Yad : —

The first sentence, .Ti?vi na^ nn^i'm, can be explained
only from Maimonides, Shekitah, I, 2. The other codes ^,
which follow the Talmud in their wording, speak of nmn,
which is ignored by Maimonides and our author, who
follows him.

The view, p. 14, that the slaughtering knife must be
examined after it has been used, is derived from Maimonides,
She/iitah, I, 24. It is a view not shared by other authorities.

The difference (pp. 31-3) between nom paD and any other
ns^no pSD is inexplicable without the help of Maimonides,
She/dtah, V, 3, who uses the case to exemplify his funda-
mental view on the subject of the Sinai tic Halakah.

The Halakic value of the little book is slight, as we have
seen, but the form in which it is couched deserves some
consideration. The author attempts to condense in thirty-
eight brief and tersely expressed paragraphs the important
regulations regarding hd^hk^ and n?^n:2. From the point of
view of this object, it is not a despicable achievement.
An interesting point is the author's desire to imitate the
language and manner of the Mishnah, wherein he succeeded
admirably. This is all the more noteworthy as the style
he uses in the introduction may be called Kaliric, in
strange contrast with the clear and pointed style of the
book proper. But not even there could he wholly restrain
himself from indulging his taste for the bizarre. To the
end of each paragraph he adds a jDD, which in most cases
is a conundrum, and one cannot but admire the ingenuity
of Onkeneira, who succeeded in guessing all the riddles.

' Comp. the commentators on this passage of Maimonides.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE I57

The explanations by Onkeneira which accompany the
little book are of statements of facts and linguistic points.
These are treated of in his commentary entitled njys n:2V.
In his other commentary, called ITi npTn, in allusion to
Maimonides, npTnn T, he deals with the relation existing
between Rabbi Nahshon's statements and those of Mai-
monides' Code. He does not attempt to enter into the
views of other authorities. In a single passage (p. 23) he
mentions Rabbi Joseph Caro, citing his Bet Yosef with
these words : f^^ '\'^i^? ^0)' nY'nD nb^n n^Dnn pn^^^n nnn
n^D^n '^v^^ DM^K JT-I ^DV n^n nson. Furthermore, he men-
tions his grandfather, Rabbi Judah Onkeneira, three times.
On p. 12 he tells the following about him: nNiti> nj^'VD
Qr\2^^' r\^22 onvnn nN^::^jp»n y^vr ^:pT nb'c^n D^nn n^onn ^d-"!

nnN3 D^D N^niTiD ^m . . . nhn nn \sn n^ni nns* ti^^s* ^<3 ovn
Yhdd ann v^jy DP TN . . . . y^vr ^:pr oi^cM o^nn n:ni » . . ipDD
D^^n D\-i^&< n2T mm mini i^«"i by )p^^) ^^r jsj^ik^ '| .'nin\
The name of his grandfather is not attached to this passage,
but on p. 52 it is mentioned plainly, with the words ^nv^^'i
"in''n"i?o nb^n D^nn ^Jpr n''Dnn ■•sd, in accordance with which
y^Vt miiT' we should read on p. 24. His uncle. Rabbi Moses
Onkeneira, is referred to on p. 42, in the words '•SD ^nyon
n^Dnn ^dd bnp:i> V'^: n-i^j''p:iy ntj^^ Y'nn ^i? ••in Di?^n nsnn ^^onn
n''y ^jpr vin*.

On p. 32 a saying from the Yerushalmi is quoted which
is not found in our text. The Yerushahni very probably
refers to some Kabbalistic work ^.

The quotation occurring in a Yemen MS., published by
L. Grlinhut, in R. JS. J., XXXIX, 31 1-12, is probably taken
from a mystical work attributed to Rabbi Nahshon ^.

' Rabbi Judah ben Isaac, Rabbi of Magnesia about 1500, author of
a commentary on Ruth.

- n^nicnna b:ir\D'b iiXD'2 «yr n'b n^^i ;«q ^qVo-'Ti pnoi^iD sir^i i<m «;"3i? >4n ;
the language is that of the Zohar ; so far as I know, however, the dictum
does not occur in the Zohar.

^ The extract published by Griinhut was known before ; comp. R. E. J. ,



158 THE GEONIM

The Karaite Kirkisani, as we are informed by Dr.
Harkavy^ who published portions of his works still in
MS., speaks of " Hai, the head of the Academy, and his
father, who translated the law-book of Anan from the
Aramaic into Hebrew, and with the exception of two
points, they found nothing that could not be traced back
to the Eabbinic writings." As Kirkisani could not have
been thinking of Rabbi Hai ben Sherira, because he wrote
before the great Hai was born^ he may have meant Kabbi
Hai ben Nahshon, who studied the works of Anan with
his father Nahshon. It is possible that the calendar in-
vestigations undertaken by Rabbi Nahshon in connexion
with his 'Iggid led him to take up Karaitic literature, and
he naturally sought first of all to familiarise himself with
the works of the founder of the Karaite sect. If we bear
in mind that the Gaon of Sura, Natronai, barely one
generation before Rabbi Nahshon, had to be told by a
Spanish Jew of the existence of Anan's book of law 2,
it does not seem at all probable that an early successor
of his would make it the subject of close study. And,
in point of fact, Kirkisani's report bears the marks of
falsification. Consider the monstrous exaggeration, that
the Gaon Hai had found only two matters in the whole
of Anan's book of law that could not be shown to be
derived from Rabbinic sources, the truth being that there
are barely two lines in his book that are in agreement
with the Rabbinical authorities. It is equally out of
the question that a Gaon should have busied himself
with the translation of a Karaite book, and from Aramaic
into Hebrew at that. The Babylonian Jews mastered



XL, 128. Rabbi Nahshon is not the only Gaon whom the Kabbalists claim
as one of their own. Even Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni could not escape
them, in spite of his philosophic views; comp. Steinschneider, Arabisdie
Literatur, i lo, note 6.

' In his additions to the Hebrew translation of Graetz's Geschichte, III.
493-5".

^ Seder Rab Amram, 38 a.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE 1 59

both languages, we may be sure, and it is not to be
supposed for a moment that Rabbi Hal was desirous of
making propaganda for Karaism among foreign Jews
ignorant of Aramaic.

o

Works attributed to the Geonim Zemah, Hai ben
David, and Hilai.

The contemporary of Rabbi Nahshon, Rabbi Zemah ben
Paltoi, Gaon of Pumbedita, was the first of the scholars
of Pumbedita to write a book, and this first Purabeditan
book was at the same time the first of the long line of
Talmudic lexicons. The work iny is known to have
existed as late as the sixteenth century, in the possession
of Rabbi Abraham Zacuto, the author of the Yo^asln, who
quotes from it here and there. It is, of course, astonishing
that Zacuto should be the only one known to have made
use of the work, still more astonishing that he was the
only one to make mention of it. Kohut's opinion that
Rabbi Nathan ben Jehiel resorted to the work of this
predecessor of his is not based upon sufiicient grounds^.
In view of all this, I cannot refrain from expressing doubt
as to the reliability of Zacuto's report. He may have come
into possession of a Talmudic lexicon by some Zemah,
otherwise not known, whom he or perhaps the copyists
of the book, without taking the trouble to investigate the
matter, identified with his namesake, the Gaon of Pumbe-
dita. The restricted number of quotations from the lexicon
hardly permits speculation as to the merits of the book.
Zacuto tells us expressly that the arrangement followed
the alphabet. An interesting feature is that it contained
the names of persons and places in the Talmud ^.

1 Comp. G. S., p. 294.

2 In the Introduction to his 'Aruk, 17-19, Kohut has put together all
the quotations from Rabbi Zemah's lexicon, following the example set
by Rapoport and Geiger. Rabbi Zemah's explanation of the oath )iyon
mn , declared unintelligible by Zacuto, and by Rapoport and Kohut after
him, is quite correct. Rabbi Zemah observes that 2i?Fn p nn3T 'i makes



l6o THE GEONIM

It must be mentioned that Rabbenii Hai is perhaps
alluding to a lexicographical work by Rabbi Zemah ben
Paltoi, when, in giving the explanation of a Talmudic
word, in Harkavy, 200, he uses the expression "ipnD minm
. . . nrosi n?ov nn id npntj^ — " and in the investigation Rabbi
Zemah pursued, in which he made the supposition." If
he had been having a Responsum by Rabbi Zemah in
mind, the expression used by Rabbi Hai would be very
peculiar. That he did not mean Rabbi Zemah ben Hayyim,
or Rabbi Zemah ben Kafna, is shown by a previous
sentence, in which he gives the full name, Rabbi Zemah
ben Paltoi^. On the other hand, the grandson of Rabbi
Zemah, Rabbi Hezekiah ben Samuel, mentions nothing of
a dictionary by his grandfather, in his letter published in
the J. Q. R., XVIII, 401. As he was not a little proud of
the numerous writings by his ancestors, it is not very
likely that he would have forgotten the lexicon, if there
had been one. A final possibility is that this lexicon of
Rabbi Zemah is nothing but the explanation of Talmudic
passages for which he was asked, and these are included
in what his grandson says : " And also in the days of
his [Rabbi Paltoi's] son, Zemah, the head of the Academy,
my father's father, they [the Spanish scholars] sent to him
asking him for explanations of the difficult passages in the
whole Talmud, so many that several donkeys could not
carry the load." These words would seem to point to a
comprehensive work by Rabbi Zemah rather than his
activity as a Responsa writer.

The superscription reproduced in G. S., p. 28, from a
Genizah fragment containing a collection of Responsa,
"These Responsa were arranged [jpn] by Rabbi Zemah,

use of the oath, because he lived during the time the Temple was
standing, and being accustomed to swear *'by this Temple," he did
not change the formula even after its destruction.

^ Attention should be called to the fact that neither E. Sherira nor his
son E. Hai refers to E, Zemah as his ancestor, though the former's
grandmother was a daughter of E. Zemah, comp. above, p. 10.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE l6l

the head of the Academy," might be interpreted to mean
that Rabbi Zemah ben Paltoi (?) had made a collection
of Responsa. This inference would receive support from
the fact, that, as is shown in the G. S., pp. 20 et seq.,
several of the Responsa attributed to Rabbi Zemah belong
to his predecessors without a doubt. Thus he might be
looked upon as a collector of Responsa issued by earlier
Geonim. However, it is highly improbable that a Gaon
should have engaged in the task of collecting Responsa \
especially in consideration of the fact that the Responsa
Collections that have reached us were, in all likelihood,
made toward the end of the Gaonate, and then outside
of Babylonia. Accordingly, |pn should be translated by
"composed," rather than " arranged 2.''

Among the doubtful Geonic works is the one on the
Rabbanite calendar, ascribed by the Karaites (nr:iDnp ''^)pb,
II, 148-51) to "Hai, the head of the Academy." If this
statement is not to be dismissed as a pure invention, at
least so much may be asserted, that the author would have
to be identified with Rabbi Hai, Gaon of Sura, whose
father, Rabbi Nahshon, as was mentioned a little while
ago, also wrote upon the calendar, rather than with Hai

^ Frankel, Entiviirf einer Geschkhte . . . cler Responsen, 71-2, misunderstood
the expressions mnbwir or mn^T'n used by the old authors. It does not
mean ''Responsa Collections," but simply Responsa, the plural being
employed because the correspondents in almost all cases addressed a
number of questions to the Gaon.

2 Comp. Zunz, Gesammelte Schriften, III, 51, on the use of jpn, "to
compile"; also Harkavy, 84: no!? niD ^hii mbs\i?, "these [replies to]
questions addressed to Rabbi Zemah." Luzzatto, Bet ha-Ozar, I, 83,
maintains that Rabbi Zemah was the compiler of a collection of Geonic
Responsa. He bases his view on Mordecai, Baha Batra, 471, where the
pK3 no:? 2-n m:^^"' niniM^n are spoken of. But there can be no doubt that
the text of Mordecai is corrupt, and must be read as emended by Isserles,
ad loc. The old name for Geonic Responsa was mbxir mi^-n (D"n, 45),
which later was cut down to mb^tu (bi3\rx, III, 49), or chiefly niai^un.
The post- Geonic authors speak more frequently of mm;ijm mhav than of
mb'S^ m2i^\-i, but there are well-known Responsa Collections by later
authors that have appeared in print under the latter title, for instance,
the ;on: p rrv:o "i:'aiV mb>NM' n"in\rn.

I M



1 62 THE GEONIM

ben David, the successor to Rabbi Zemah ben Paltoi in
the Gaonate of Pumbedita, as Harkavy does in his Additions
to the Hebrew translation of Graetz, Geschichte, III, 506.

Miiller, in his Mafteah, 152, calls the Sura Gaon, Hilai
ben Natronai, the probable author of nipIDD ni37n. But
this rests upon a misunderstanding. The words of Rabbi
Hilai, in B^i, 47, HDSl pn p:vb "iJC'-l^SC' n^D, do not refer
to a Halakic compendium but to his Responsum, D''n, 162,
which he probably sent to the same addressee.

The Importance of Rabbi Saadia in Halakic
Literature.

As in many other fields, so in the Halakah, Rabbi Saadia
was the most important author of the Geonic time. Not
only did he enrich the various departments of Halakic
literature with numerous contributions, but also what he
wrote was so original that in many respects it served as
a model for the succeeding Geonim and later scholars.

His Halakic writings may be divided into four groups :
(i) Introduction to the Talmud and the Halakah ; (2) Tal-
mudic explanations ; (3) Codification of the Rabbinic laws ;
and (4) Liturgy. Unfortunately, most of his Halakic works
are lost to us, and the greater part of what we possess of
them still awaits publication.

In the first group belongs the nnD :"•• irna, published by
Professor Schechter in the Bet Talmud, IV, 235-44, after an
Oxford MS., and reprinted by Miiller in (Euvres complets de
Rabbi Saadia^ IX. Originally it was written in Arabic, and
it contains the fundamental hermeneutic principles applied
to the Halakah by the Rabbis, its form being a commentary
upon the "Thirteen Rules of Rabbi Ishmael." Each of
the thirteen rules is illustrated by numerous examples,
and at the same time all the variations falling under the
rule are elucidated. For instance, the application of the
first hermeneutic rule, the l^ini b\>, is exemplified by means
of four Scriptural injunctions. The law, says Saadia, tells



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE 163

a man that in case he marries a second wife, he has three
duties of a husband (Exod. xxi. 10) to fulfil toward his
first wife. But the law contains nothing about the duties
of a husband who has but one wife. These duties we
derive by applying the 1D)n) i?p, and we infer that if the
law puts certain duties upon a husband of two wives,
although the fulfilment of them is twice as difficult as
when he has only one wife, how much more is he obligated
to fulfil them when he has but one wife.

In this clear and intelligible manner, he continues to
treat of all the hermeneutic rules in succession. The
superiority of this work appears plainly on comparing it
with the " Baraita of the Thirteen Rules," at the beginning
of the Sifra. Neither in copiousness of examples, nor in
lucidity of presentation, can the latter come up to Saadia's
work even remotely. The relation of this Baraita to Rabbi
Saadia's treatise, it should be said, has not yet been cleared
up ^. The Baraita, we know, contains many old elements,
but it is not certain that, in the passages in which Rabbi
Saadia's work and the Baraita are in agreement, it is always
the latter that is to be considered the primary source.

An Introduction to the Talmud by Rabbi Saadia was
consulted by so late an authority as Rabbi Bezaleel Ashke-
nazi (ab. 1609), and Azulai, in his jns* ^^v\ 36 b and 68 c,
has published bits of it, after Rabbi Bezaleel's manuscript
works. As Rabbi Bezaleel says expressly that it was
originally written in Arabic, there is no room left for


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