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doubt as to the correctness of the supposition made by
Professor Schechter, in his Saadyana, 128, that the 3NnD
P31D7^? mentioned in a Genizah fragment is precisely this
Introduction to the Talmud by Rabbi Saadia '\

^ Comp. on this point Miiller, in (Euvres complets de R. Saadia, IX,
Introduction, 23-33, and Hoffmann, in Berliner-Juhelschrift, Hebrew
division, 55 et seq,

^ Rabbi Saadia's 'I'jin 'd contains matter of a nature introductory to
the Talmud, as he himself mentions expressly ; see Harkavy, Saadia,
152, 160, The former passage is particularly interesting. Rabbi Saadia,

M 2



164 THE GEONIM

Rabbi Pethahiah, of Ratisbon, who travelled through
Babylonia near the end of the twelfth century, reports
that the Jews there used commentaries on the Bible and
the oniD nrc> by Rabbi Saadia. Whether d'':^' stands for
the Mishnah, or, according to later usage, for the Talmud,
cannot be determined with certainty. It is also open to
doubt whether the ''i^'nD of Rabbi Saadia on certain Talmud
passages which are mentioned in Geonic literature^ are
commentaries on the Talmud or part of the Talmud, or
whether they are isolated explanations of definite passages
in the Talmud, which Rabbi Saadia, like many of the
Geonim, gave in his Responsa in reply to inquiries. From
the list of works published by Professor Schechter in
Saadyana, 79, it is plain that Rabbi Saadia compiled a
" Vocabulary of the Mishnah." There is, accordingly, no
reason for denying him the authorship of the Commentary
on DID 13, published at Jerusalem, 1907, by Wertheimer,
from a Genizah fragment, under the title m C^n''D nSD
p^^3 nnyo. The epithet C'n"'2 is somewhat inaccurate, because
the book contains no explanations in the usual sense, but
only very brief lexical notes. The sixty-three folios of
the treatise BeraJwt are disposed of in two small leaves.
However, it is not impossible that the msnn bv t:nn2 before
us is only an extract from a much more detailed commen-
tary by Rabbi Saadia, in which the philological notices
alone are given, to the exclusion of all other sorts of
matter. This hypothesis gains in probability from the fact



with fine satire, takes the Talmudists of his time severely to task : " The
reason for compiling this [chronology of the Talmud] is that I have
met persons who call tliemselves Eabbis [Rabbanites ?], who have no
understanding of it, and who do not walk in the way of our old teachers,
whose names, however, are always upon their lips, and with whose food
they nourish themselves." These words show not only that Eabbi Saadia
was creating a new thing in this field, but also that he did it in
opposition to the Zeitgeist so-called.

^ If - ciic may be taken literally, then Rabbi Saadia must have written
commentaries at least upon Pesa/nm, Sotah, Baba Mezia , and Baha Batra;
comp. Saadyana, 59-61, and Albargeloni, mrj:irn 'c, 53.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE 165

that the first Miahnah ^ of the treatise is summed up in
such wise that it may serve as an introduction to the
discussions following in the Gemara. It cannot be assumed
that Rabbi Saadia treated only the first Alishvah in this
thoroughgoing manner, and not also the rest of the treatise.
This odd contrast between the first Mishnah and the others
would be fully explained by the supposition that we have
only an extract before us. The epitomiser contented himself
with reproducing verbatim the first paragraph of the book
of which he was preparing an abstract; thereafter he
took the shortest way possible.

Rabbi Saadia's literary activity was most fruitful in the
department of codification. Unfortunately, only scant
remains have been preserved, but at least the titles of his
works are cited by a number of old authors and in old
lists of books. This enables us to assert definitely that at
least the following ten parts of the Jewish law were codified
by Rabbi Saadia-: n^nn ; niyu^; nnDC'; fnp£; rn3nro; niti^n>;
minD nijno ; niantoi hd^hd* ; nvny ; r]^r]D) nt^roit:. Of these ten
books, but one has been preserved, the first-named, "the
book of the law of inheritance," which was published in
the ninth volume of Saadia's collected works. Fragments
have come down to us of two or three codes besides.

The student need not be cautioned against judging
Rabbi Saadia's achievements as a codifier by the insig-
nificant remains enumerated, the more as it appears that
the niti>n''n nsD was his initial effort in the code depart-
ment^. Despite its shortcomings, the book nevertheless

1 Also the three passages iib, 15 a, and 18 b, are more than mere
verbal explanations.

2 Comp. Steinschneider, Arabische Literatur, 48-50, and Di*. Poznanski's
'' Schechter's Saadyana," and also his remarks in the Orienfalische Litteratur-
Zeitting, VII, 306-7 ; to which is to be added Rabbi Saadia's treatise on
n^n, published later in J. Q. R., XIX, 119. Numerous citations from the
ri"iTiQu;n 'd are to be found in Albargeloni's work of the same name.

3 This view, expressed by Miiller in the Introduction to his edition
of this book, gains in probability from what is said, p. 166, below, on
the relation of the book to Rabbi Saadia's other book, the ]M\;Lrf 'd.



1 66 THE GEONIM

gave scope for the display of Kabbi Saadia's originality.
Not only is it the first Rabbinic book in Arabic, but also
in plan and execution it reveals the influence of Greek-
Arabic discipline ^. Instead of ranging the decisions of
the Mlsltnali and the Talmud next to each other, Saadia
has presented the Biblical-Rabbinic laws of inheritance
in an order quite independent of their sources. This book
of his thus became in some respects the model of the
Geonim Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni and Rabbenu Hai for
their codifications, and it would not be going too far to
assert that Saadia exercised some influence on Maimonides'
code. It is interesting to note that the fragments of the
inpan nao, published by Professor Schechter in Saadyana,
37, 40-41, show that in this code Rabbi Saadia pursued
an entirely different system from that employed in the
nit^nM "12D. It is not impossible that Rabbi Saadia's
method of not mentioning the Talmudic sources from which
he drew gave offence, as similar action by Maimonides
in his Yad aroused opposition. Saadia may have been
led thereby to change his method.

In the domain of liturgy, we cannot here give attention
to the numerous prayers which Rabbi Saadia composed.
We are interested in the prayer-book which he compiled
at the request of the Egyptian congregations. Unfortu-
nately, it still awaits publication, and we are, therefore,
not yet in a position to pass final judgment upon it. So
much is certain, however, that Rabbi Saadia did not, like
his predecessor in the Gaonate of Sura, Rab Amram,
execute his task according to the Babylonian ritual, but
according to the ritual of his native country Egypt.
Of course, it cannot be denied that his Seder was not
without effect on the Babylonian liturgy. Rabbenu Hai
(Harkavy, 97) states explicitly that certain changes in the
liturgy of his country were due to the influence exercised
by Rabbi Saadia's Seder. Although the Egyptian liturgy

* Comp. Steinschneider, Arabische Literatur, 48, end, and Orient LitL-
Zeiiung, VII, 206-8.



THE HALAKIC LITERATUKE 167

is not free from Babylonian influences, yet, on the whole,
it is an offshoot of the Palestinian ritualistic system.
Whether the kinship that exists between the Seder of
Kabbi Saadia and the Order of Prayers by Maimonides,
which I have pointed out elsewhere \ is attributable to
the sole circumstance that both authorities were concerned
with the needs of the Egyptian Jews, is more than
questionable. It is very probable that Maimonides was
intimately acquainted with the Seder of Rabbi Saadia, and
permitted himself to follow it in many respects.

Rabbi Saadia's place in the development of Halakic
literature can be summed up in this way : The many-
sided scholar endeavoured to free Halakic literature from
its exclusiveness. His Introductions and his methodo-
logical works tended towards a historic-critical understand-
ing of the Talmud, while as a codifier his aim was to
arrange the Rabbinic law in a unified logical system.

The Three Great Successors of Rabbi Saadia.

The last three Geonim, Rabbi Sherira, Rabbi Samuel
ben Hofni, and the son of the former, Rabbi Hai, all stand

^ Z. H. B., IX, 104-7. After an examination of the MS., which I gave
it later, even though it was cursory, I do not entertain the slightest
doubt that Rabbi Saadia's "no embodies the Egyptian ritual. The Genizah
fragments comprise only a few insignificant tattered pieces of the v"-\D
and very large pieces of Rabbi Saadia's Seder, further evidence of the
assumption that it was destined for and went to Egypt. To the liturgical
decisions by Rabbi Saadia given by Miiller, in (Euires compleis de R. Saadia,
IX, 150 et seq., most of which are probably derived from the Seder,
a quotation is to be added occurring in Ibn Gabai, 3pi" nrbin, the section
on nowo nb^n. Ibn Gabai, it must be confessed, does not seem to have
taken it direct from Rabbi Saadia. The anonymous commentator of the
German Prayer Book, printed at Trino, in 1525, was acquainted with
Rabbi Saadia's Seder. He quotes it in his commentary on the Haggadah
on the verse >miy"i. The passage quoted by him is not found in the
Oxford MS. of the Seder, but it occurs in the Haggadah according to
the Yemen ritual, in the i"o, 293, in a MS. of the Haggadah according
to the German ritual, of the year 1329, in the possession of the Jewish
Theological Seminary, and was known to the author of the "Jiur? '"O, comp.
Mekiltciy^z, ed. Hoffmann.



1 68 THE GEOXIM

under the influence of Kabbi Saadia, manifesting itself
peculiarly in the case of each. While Rabbi Samuel
followed the example of Rabbi Saadia in the field of philo-
sophy and Bible exegesis, as well as in his other interests,
Rabbi Sherira and his son Rabbi Hai remained true to
the old traditions of the Geonim. Of philosophy the latter
would none, and the study of the Bible was a subordinate
pursuit. To their core they were Talmudists, and Talmudists
only. But in their capacity and work as Talmudists they
could deny the influence of Rabbi Saadia as little as Rabbi
Samuel ben Hofni.

A work entitled onno nb:^ is ascribed to Rabbi Sherira,
but the statement is rather doubtful. In his Introduction
to his Menorat ka-Maor^ Rabbi Isaac Aboab quotes a state-
ment of Rabbi Sherira's from DnriD ni'JD ^ What Aboab
meant was probably that he had taken the words of the
Gaon from the book DnriD rh:D by Rabbenu Nissim. Like
his Mafteak, this book by Rabbenu Nissim is also made
up in large part of Geonic Responsa^, and of these Aboab
made use in other places, too.

It is equally doubtful whether the ^pi?DJ by Rabbi Sherira,
cited several times by Rabbi Isaac of Vienna in his book
Vnr "1155 ^ is an independent work, somewhat of the cha-
racter of a commentary on several treatises of the Talmud,
or explanations of Talmudic passages in the form of
Responsa.

^ The correct reading is nnriD, not viriD.

2 This is confirmed by the Eesponsum of Eabbi Hai, in the appendix
to Rabbi Sherira's Letter, ed. Mayence, 64-5, which likewise was in-
corporated verbatim in Rabbenu Nissim's c>inD 'yo . Comp. also Harkavy,
in rt:DCrr, V, 53: Brull, Jahrbiicher, IX, 121 ; and G. S., p. 273.

3 II, 168 a ; Baba Kama, 72 ; Baba Batra, 40. The Geonic sources used
by Rabbi Isaac, the author of the fM>, which are of great importance for
the valuation of Geonic literature, have not yet been exploited sufficiently.
Wellesz, in Monatsschri/t, XLVIII, 369-71, is neither exhaustive nor com-
plete. For instance, the SheeUot quotations from I, 159 b, II, 50 and 163,
are missing; also Rabbi Hanina Gaon, I, 209; Rabbi Nathan ben Hananiah,
I, 176 b, and several others. biDu:^, II, 76, seems to indicate that Rabbi
Sherira wrote a commentary on Baba Baba, comp. also Steinschneider,
Arab. Lit., 98.



THE HALAKIC LITERATUEE 1 69

Eabbi Sherira's reputation as one of the most prominent
authors of the Geonic period rests upon a much surer basis
than is afforded by these doubtful productions — upon his
celebrated Letter to the scholars of Kairwan.

The Letter is a reply to a question addressed to Rabbi
Sherira as to the origin of the Mishnah and the other
Halakic collections by Tannaim, and as to the heads of
the Academies during the time of the Saboraim and Geonim,
together with a number of other points connected with
these two cardinal matters. The lasting value of his epistle
for us lies in the information Rabbi Sherira gives about
the post-Talmudic scholars. On this period he is practically
the only source we have, and his report is all the more
important as it is partly based upon documents in the
archives of the Geonim. But we should be doing Rabbi
Sherira injustice if we thought of him merely as a chrono-
logist. The theories which he unfolds, in lapidary style,
regarding the origin of the Mishnah, its relation to the
Tosefta and the Bar ait ot, on the beginnings and develop-
ment of the Talmud, and many other points important in
the history of the Talmud and its problems, stamp Rabbi
Sherira as one of the most distinguished historians, in
fact, it is not an exaggeration to say, the most distinguished
historian, of literature among the Jews, not only of an-
tiquity, but also in the middle ages, and during a large
part of modern times. But the fine historical percep-
tions which he displays in literary criticism, and his
searching investigation of the problems he encounters
are almost unthinkable in the Geonic period without the
preliminary work, or rather the personal influence, of
Rabbi Saadia^.

By far more direct and tangible was the influence of
Rabbi Saadia upon the work of Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni,
who was a serious competitor of Rabbi Saadia in point
of versatility and productiveness. He cannot, however,

1 Comp. the observation by Rabbi Saadia given above, p. 163, n. 2.



lyo THE GEONIM

vie with Rabbi Saadia in originality. The Halakic works
of Rabbi Samuel, some of them, perhaps, nothing but
works of Rabbi Saadia recast^, were written in Arabic
like those of his predecessor, and they share the fate of
the latter, too, in that they are completely lost save a few
fragments.

The Genizah fragments have made us acquainted with
a large number of titles of books, as many as forty, all
to be added to the Halakic writins^s of Rabbi Samuel ^.
It is fair to assume that these are not independent works ^,
but rather parts of a great code. J;''N-l:^^^< "Commands,'*
by Rabbi Samuel, may have been the general title, which
was accompanied by a number of sub-titles for the various
divisions of the code. The gigantic compass of the book
may readily be judged from the n^3nn ^1V^, "The Portal
of Benedictions," which was published by Weiss in the
Bet Talmud, II, 377-86. This division, doubtless an insig-
nificant portion of the code, exceeds in size the correspond-
ing parts in Maimonides' Yad and Caro's ShuUan 'AruJc
together, and it must be remembered that it has not been
preserved in complete form. Probably this prolixity is
a partial reason why both the Arabic original and the
Hebrew translation, which were in the hands of the German
authors as late as the fourteenth century*, have dropped
into total oblivion.

Of the other Talmudic writings of Rabbi Samuel, we
should mention a commentary on Yehamot, listed in a



* Comp. Scheeliter, Saadyana, 43.

2 Comp. Steinschneider, Arab. Lit., 108-10, and Poznanski, Orientalische
Litteratur-Zeitung, VII, 313-15. In the recently published mmn nn
(Bernard Drachman, New York, 1908), 53, the nvnyn 'c (on witnesses?)
by Kabbi Samuel is mentioned.

3 A supposition made by Eapoport, Biography of Balhi Ilai, note 8.

* The author of '?D-iox 'do D'^L^^pb, published in Coronel's ':^p 'n, quotes
Eabbi Samuel's D'^vxo, and also the author of mcic«rt 'd, living at the
same time. Some of the decisions by Eabbi Samuel, reproduced in
Mviller, Ma/teah, were not Responsa originally, they are taken from his
code.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE T7I

catalogue, /. Q. R-, XVI, 411, and an Introduction to the
Talmud, of which a considerable piece is to be found in
the Taylor- Schechter Collection.

The influence of Rabbi Saadia is patent in the niDnn nytJ^,
especially in the grouping of the material and in the style
of presentation. It is altogether likely that Eabbi Samuel
used the work of his predecessor as a foundation for his
Introduction to the Talmud as well as for his Code.

Rabbi Hai, the last of the Geonim, who as a Talmudist
may perhaps be called the first of them, and who in respect
of Talmudic scholarship, profundity of conception, and
incisive judgment, is excelled by none, not even by Rabbi
Saadia, is known chiefly for his numerous Responsa. How-
ever, he is the author of independent works on subjects
in every department of the Talmud, too.

Of his commentaries on the Talmud nothing has been
preserved, though it is certain that he expounded several
treatises. Quotations from his commentary on BeraJwt are
to be found in Ibn Gajat, ^''^, 1, 14 ; Albargeloni, n^nyn naD,
288 ; in the MS. of the n)i^n^ of the RaBeD ; and in .T''nNi,
24. Rabbi Solomon Ibn Adret makes copious use thereof
in his commentary on BeraJwt. We may also be sure of
his having composed a commentary on Shabbat 2, to which
reference is made in 9'y, 59, and that the expression ^^)y^2
li^nn in this passage does not mean an explanation made by
Rabbi Hai in one of his Responsa is evident from the word
nU1t^'n that follows soon after. It is obvious that in this
Responsum a difference is made between tJ'n"'3 and mn^c^'n.
It is questionable whether Rabbi Hai wrote a commentary
on the treatise Hagigah. Albargeloni, in his commentary
on the book Yezirah, cites explanations of passages in this



^ I am indebted to Dr. Alexander Marx for calling my attention to
these mairrt against Rabbi Zerahiah Gerondi ; they are in the Sulzberger
Collection of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

2 Comp. G. S., p. 56, and 'Aruk, s.v. SDcn ph», which quotes Rabbi Hai's
explanation of this expression from Shabbat and not from Kelim I



172 THE GEONIM

treatise^ five times, once (p. 26) as n2"»3n 'd3, and again as
pc^nn ps 'an Viin-1^23.

What is certain is that the view of Weiss, Doi\ IV, 187,
cannot be correct, when he holds that whenever the author
of the 'Aruh quotes the words of Rabbi Hai with the intro-
ductory formula D'T'S he had a commentary of the Gaon
before him. It is curious that Weiss should have dropped
into the incorrect statement that Rabbi Nathan, s.v. n^D^N,
was quoting Rabbi Hai's commentary on Kiddushln.
The words ]'mipi snnn Y^2) show plainly that Rabbi Hai's
explanation could not have had a place in a commentary
on Kiddiibhin. In such a case he would have had to say
ppnani. Indeed^ some of the explanations of Rabbi Hai
introduced in the 'Aruk w4th ti'n"'S are found in Responsa.
For instance, that s. v. "^^^r^ n^inn is literally in Harkavy,
pp. 128-9. Likewise, Rabbi Hai's authorship of the brief
commentary on the Order Teharot of the Mishnah seems
to me very dubious. My reasons against the prevailing
assumption that this commentary ascribed to him is actually
his, are the following : Rabbenu Hai, like many other Geo-
nim, did not consider it beneath his dignity to give short
linguistic explanations of Talmudic passages, when he was
asked for them. We have, indeed, a large number of
such by Rabbi Hai in various places in the Responsa
Collection edited by Harkavy. On the other hand, it is
highly improbable that a Gaon, especially a scholar like
Rabbenu Hai, who was mainly concerned about a proper
understanding of the Halakah, should have composed a
commentary on a most difficult part of the Mii<hnah, without
making the slightest contribution to our actual knowledge
of it. The explanation offered by Weiss for this peculiar
fact can hardly be taken seriously. He maintains that as
this Order of the Mhhnah was studied only by great
scholars, it required nothing but linguistic elucidations ;

^ Probably it refers to a comprehensive Kesponsum on the difficult
Haggadic parts of the second section of this treatise. Comp. G. S.,
p. 273.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE 1 73

the matter itself contained therein needed none. In other
words, Rabbi Hai might presuppose in his readers an
intelligent appreciation of the most difficult parts of the
Halakah, but not acquaintance with such words as !?D2D,
nnD, ^JDID, and many similar terms. They occur frequently
in the Talmud, yet Rabbenu Hai must define them for his
great scholars ! There are other circumstances that militate
against Rabbi Hai's authorship. In this commentary on
Teharot, Greek equivalents for certain words are not
infrequently cited, and we are certain that Rabbi Hai
understood no Greek \ The numerous quotations from
the Yerushahni also testify against Rabbi Hai's author-
ship. Though he does now and again make references to
the Yerushalmi elsewhere, the frequency with which it is
done in this commentary arouses suspicion. Moreover,
not only is the Yerushalmi drawn upon freely, but also
contemporary Palestinian custom is cited (Kelim, XXV, 3),
which hardly fits in with our notion of Rabbi Hai. Though
Rabbi Saadia and Rabbi Nahshon are named in the com-
mentary {Kelim, XXVIII, 3), Rabbi Sherira never is, which
would be rather curious in a work by Rabbi Hai. Also
Rabbi Hai never speaks of the Responsa of the Geonim as
m^^XJi^; he calls them nuic^n, while in the commentary
ni^^xc^ is the term constantly employed. And what ex-
planation can be given of the fact that the author of the
'Aruk quotes it seventy times without once mentioning
the name of Rabbi Hai ^. In view of all this, Rabbi Hai's

^ The explanation of the word sophist is quoted by Rabbi Hai, as we
learn in Harkavy's Introduction, 25, note, from a work by Alfarabi !
His ignorance of Greek is evinced also in his remark on Daicct*, Harkavy,
196-7. In another Responsum, 1. c, 23, he says with regard to the names
of certain fish in the Talmud : pi ]>tdtd i:x ]'«i ]n 'JY- |v*rb ^^^D pirt ]r^Mi bDi !
This would seem sufficient to refute Weiss' statement that Rabbi Hai
understood Greek.

2 Kohut, in his Introduction, 14, maintains that Rabbi Nathan, s.v.
CIQ, ascribes the commentary on Teharot to Rabbenu Hai, and calls it ni:D
;w:. But if this passage proves anything, it is that Rabbi Nathan did not
consider Rabbi Hai the author, inasmuch as he never calls him anything
but ]i«:n.



174 THE GEONIM

authorship of the commentary is, to say the least, very
doubtful.

The codifications by Rabbi Hai encountered a more
favourable fate than his commentaries. Folio wino- the
example of Rabbi Saadia probably, he wrote them in
Arabic, but only the Hebrew translations have been pre-
served, and they only in part. Rabbi Isaac ben Reuben
translated ^ Rabbi Hai's book On Sales as early as the year
1078, giving it the title nDO^i np^n nsD. It has been printed
and published a number of times. To this book with its
sixty gates are added three coinparatively short treatises
on the law of pledges, p^ti^Dn nsD ; the law of conditions,
D^5<Dnn ''nDi:^^ ; and the law of loan and sale, niNli^n ^DSt^'D
niNC'^'i . A second work of importance by Rabbi Hai in the
same field is his work on oaths, of the Hebrew translation
of which, niynti^ '•nvK^, we also have a printed edition. Of
these two works there is a metrical version, which, however,
does not own Rabbi Hai as its author, the statement of the
printed editions to the contrary notwithstanding. These
two works by Rabbi Hai are to be classed among the most
excellent achievements in the department of Rabbinic code
literature. As Rabbi Hai treats only certain portions of
the Rabbinic law, he naturally goes into detail, without,
however, dropping into the longwindedness of which his
father-in-law, Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni, is guilty. The
logical development of the subjects treated is presented in
a clear and comprehensive way, and the systematic grouping
is masterly. The n^DDl npon nDD is to this day the best
exposition of the Rabbinic law of sales with all its essen-
tial branches. Equally, his niynL^> ny^ shows the cunning
of the great systematiser and the acumen of the great
jurist. In the first-mentioned book, XLI, 77 a, he refers to
his work, 2 n^nn nun, which seems to be lost. Perhaps the
treatise niNli^n •'DD:^'^ is nothing but a chapter of this book.

^ On the translations of Rabbenu Hai's works, comp. Steinschneider,
Arabische Literatur, 99 et seq.


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