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Issachar Berman ben Naphtali Ha-Kohen

ISSACHAR BERMAN BEN NAPHTALI HA-KOHEN

ISSACHAR BERMAN BEN NAPHTALI HA-KOHEN (commonly known as Berman Ashkenazi ; 16th century), commentator on the Midrash. He was born in Sczebrzeszyn, Poland, where he died. The statement in the Kore ha-Dorot that he died in Palestine and was buried in Hebron is incorrect. Issachar studied under Moses *Isserles. In 1584 he completed the final recension of his Mattenot Kehunnah on the Midrash Rabbah. In this commentary, the author made a great effort to correct the text "for the mistakes and errors of the copyists are very many" (introd.). He collated numerous manuscripts of the Midrash and the Jerusalem Talmud; "I ordered the printers not to repeat the previous mistakes in the new book" (commentary to Five Scrolls, first edition, Cracow, 1587–88) and endeavored to arrive at the plain meaning of the Midrash (Eccl. R., no. 12). He looked for persons proficient in foreign languages such as Latin and Arabic to explain foreign words and reveals a knowledge of medicine and astronomy. He was eager to "fit the commentary to the words of the Midrash so that the explanation should correspond to the intention of the saying" (introd.). As a result of its brevity and clarity the Mattenot Kehunnah achieved considerable popularity and is included in almost every edition of the Midrash. Issachar is also the author of Mareh Kohen, an index to the subjects and biblical quotations in the Zohar (Cracow, 1589; Amsterdam, 1673). The first part was translated into Latin by Christian Knorr von Rosenroth and published in part 2 of his Cabbala Denudata (Sulzbach, 1677).

bibliography:

H. Albeck, Mavo u-Mafteḥot le-Midrash Bereshit Rabbah, 1 (19652), 134–6; Reifmann, Ohel Yissachar (1887), with annotations by N. Bruell.

[Ephraim Kupfer]

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