Monday, February 26, 2007

Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed. Post I: Heidenheim and Baer

Having access to the new version of Encyclopedia Judaica through Spertus' wonderful Feinberg e-collection (see here), I thought it might be interesting to do some occasional posts on what I find in it, for better or for worse.

Even though I am beginning with a mistake, I have not yet formed an opinion on this new edition, though I will say that it is very aesthetically displeasing, especially in comparison to the first edition. But the real issue is content and perhaps it will show itself to be an improvement in that regard, even though many photos are missing from the new edition.

In its entry on BAER, SELIGMAN ISAAC it says "(1825–1897), Hebrew grammarian, masorah scholar, and liturgist. Born at Mosbach (Baden, Germany), Baer was a pupil of Wolf Heidenheim, who left him many of his manuscripts. "

The trouble is that it also has "HEIDENHEIM, WOLF (Benjamin Ze'ev; 1757–1832)"--Heidenheim died in 1832. Was Seligman Baer actually "a pupil of Wolf Heidenheim," despite being 6 or 7 when the latter died? As far as I know, Reb Wolf was not a heder melamed and Baer was not the Mozart of the Masorah.

In Dotan's prologemena to Wickes (referred to in the post directly below) he writes (pg XIII):

Seligman Baer might be regarded as the direct follower of Heidenheim, thought it seems the two never met.24

24 Baer was only 7 years old when Heidenheim died so it is astonishing that Kahle could say: "Seligman Baer (1825-97) in his early youth seems to have been in contact with Wolf Heidenheim (1757-1832)" (The Cairo Geniza2, Oxford, 1959, p. 113).

And yet, the Encyclopedia Judaica entry on Baer, written by Isaak Dov Ber Markon*, does not cite Kahle and furthermore says far more than that they seem[ed] to have been in contact. He says that he was a pupil and that Heidenheim left him many manuscripts.

Where did this come from? I suppose that, perhaps, Baer did eventually possess many of Heidenheim's manuscripts. Could that be how this yarn was spun? I have no idea.

Does anyone know how these articles were written? Did Markon write it in Hebrew and someone translated it? Did the article originally written mean to say just what Dotan says, that Baer "might be regarded as a direct follower" of Heidenheim? Alas, it is a mystery to me.

*This is not, I assume, a revised article.

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