Higger, Michael

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HIGGER, MICHAEL (1898–1952), U.S. talmudic scholar. Higger, born in Rogovo, near Kovno, Lithuania, received a traditional education in Lithuania, and after immigrating to the United States in 1915, studied at New York and Columbia universities and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained. Higger devoted his life to the study of Jewish sources and their publication. He also served as a consultant to the law committee of the Rabbinical Assembly of America and was responsible for many of the decisions made by that body.

His main contribution to Jewish scholarship is the editing of rabbinic texts with variant readings and introductions and the systematizing of various rabbinic writings. His early published works were devoted to the non-canonical tractates, including Massekhtot Ze'irot (1929), Sheva Massekhtot Ketannot (1930), Massekhet Semakhot (1931), Massekhet Kallah (1936), all with introductions, notes, and variant readings. Higger's major work was Oẓar ha-Beraitot (10 vols., 1930–50). In this work he collected and annotated all of the beraitot and the non-Mishnaic, tannaitic statements found in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, both in the printed and manuscript editions of the Talmuds. Included are about 10,000 beraitot annotated, with variants, and classified according to form and provenance. This monumental work is a standard source for talmudic students.

In addition, Higger contributed many articles to learned journals and edited Yarḥi's commentary on Kallah Rabbati (1934). He wrote Intention in Jewish Law (1927) and Jewish Utopia (1932), a reconstruction of the rabbinic ideal society.

[Seymour Siegel]