Heilprin, Jehiel ben Solomon

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HEILPRIN, JEHIEL BEN SOLOMON

HEILPRIN, JEHIEL BEN SOLOMON (1660–1746), Lithuanian talmudic scholar and historian. Heilprin, the son of the rabbi of Sokolov, studied Kabbalah and, according to legend, performed miracles. He served as rabbi first in Glussk (Bobruisk district), where his compilation of rules and regulations for the ḥevra kaddisha were preserved in his own manuscript for several generations. In 1711 he was appointed head of the yeshivah in Minsk. His method of teaching the Talmud, contrary to pilpul, caused friction between him and Aryeh Leib b. Asher *Gunzberg, who was also a rosh yeshivah in Minsk. Aryeh Leib later left Minsk, and Heilprin was able to continue in his own yeshivah, unhampered, and with the affection of his pupils.

Heilprin became famous mainly for his historical-chronological book Seder ha-Dorot (Karlsruhe, 1769), which is divided into three parts: (a) chronology of events and personages dated from the Creation to 1696; (b) the biographies and chronologies of the tannaim and amoraim in alphabetical order; (c) the names of Hebrew authors and books, listed alphabetically, up to Heilprin's period. In the first part of this work he made use of stories from the *Sefer ha-Yashar and the earlier chronological books, including Ẓemaḥ David by David *Gans, Sefer Yuḥasin by Abraham Zacuto, and Shalsft ha-Kabbalah by Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya. In the third part he used Siftei Yeshenim by Shabbetai Bass; Heilprin copied the list of books from this work with all its errors. The second part, devoted to the history of the tannaim and amoraim, is of utmost importance. Although Heilprin followed Sefer Yuḥasin in compiling the list of individuals, the history he wrote was the first modern-type biography of the tannaim and amoraim, being based on original research of the talmudic sources. In the introduction to his book Heilprin discussed the importance of the history of the tannaim to halakhic decisions.

Seder ha-Dorot was published a second time (Lemberg, 1858) with comments by Joseph Saul Nathanson, the rabbi of Lemberg. An improved edition of the book with a preface was later published by Naphtali Maskil le-Eitan (Maskileison; Warsaw, 1878). Heilprin also published annotations to the Babylonian Talmud (Vilna, 1880); Erkhei Kinnuyim (Dyhernfurth, 1806), a work similar to a concordance, listing the nouns and verbs in the Bible and Talmud: a new edition entitled Kav Shalom with notes and comments (letters (A–Ḥ) was published by S.Ẓ. Adler (Satu Mare, 1939).

bibliography:

N. Maskileison, in: Heilprin, Dorot (18822, repr. 1956), preface; B.Z. Eisenstadt, Rabbanei Minsk va-Ḥakhameha (1898), 14–16; B.Z. Katz, Rabbanut, Ḥasidut ve-Haskalah (1957), 141.

[Zvi Meir Rabinowitz]

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