Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rabbi Mordechai Breuer (1921-2007)

ADDeRabbi notes the passing of a giant of scholarship, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer z"l.

edit: Also Lamed, Mar Gavriel, Ari Kinsberg and Seforim.

I put up this post yesterday when I had about two seconds, so I decided to edit it a little. Other blogs have already said much about Rabbi Breuer, so little more needs to be said on my part. Mar Gavriel called him "the greatest Massorete * of our day," and that was something that crossed my mind, along the lines of what Aron Dotan wrote in his prologemena to the 1970 edition of Wicke's Two treatises on the accentuation of the Old Testament about Wolf Heidenheim and Seligmann Baer:

"they both continue the work of the ancient Masoretes who edited Biblical manuscripts and who labored with the subtleties of the vocalization, the accentuation, and the Masora of the Bible. The line of Masoretes never ceased to exist even after the printing of "the Masora," that random compilation published by Ya`qov ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah in the Second Rabbinic Bible (Venice, 1524-1525), a complilation which today, unfortunately, represents to many the Masora in general. On the face of it, it might have been expected that after the "codification" of the Masora there would be no further Masoretes. But this is not the case, as testify, for instance, Menahem di Lonzano, אור תורה (first published in 1618), Solomon Jedidiah of Norzi, מנחת שי, and other important works of the same kind. Heidenheim and Baer should be regarded as additional links in this chain of Masoretes, their main interest also being the exact transmission of the Bible text."

Add to this Menachem Breuer (and this was only one aspect of his work).

*Evidently Mar Gavriel takes a side in the debate about the proper spelling of מסורת/ מסורה--does the ס recieve a daghesh or not? In days of olden the overwhelming consensus was that it did, hence massorah. Today the convention mostly favors dropping one s. See A Contribution to the History of the Term "Massorah" by Wilhelm Bacher, JQR, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Jul., 1891), pp. 785-790

(I am pleased to say, by the way, that I created the Wikipedia page on Rabbi Breuer).

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