Judah ben Kalonymus ben Meir

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JUDAH BEN KALONYMUS BEN MEIR (d. 1196/99), German scholar, and dayyan in his native Speyer. His father was a communal leader and was one of those responsible to the king regarding the collection of community taxes. His mother was the daughter of Judah, the brother of *Samuel b. Kalonymus he-Ḥasid. Judah frequently quotes *Abraham ben Samuel he-Ḥasid, the brother of *Judah he-Ḥasid. Meir b. Kalonymus, Judah's elder brother, was a well-known scholar who is often quoted by the talmudic scholars, including Judah himself, and there are grounds for thinking that David of Minzburg, the well-known posek and formulator of takkanot, was also his brother. *Ephraim of Regensburg was one of Judah's teachers, and one of his important pupils was *Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, author of the Roke'aḥ. Judah was in Speyer at the time of the anti-Jewish decree of 1196, and his elegy on this event was published by A.H. Habermann. Judah is known mainly for his Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im, apparently the original name of the book, the beginning of which is missing in the manuscripts. The work is an extensive and valuable talmudic lexicon of the names of the tannaim and amoraim. Statements of those scholars found in the works available to Judah are listed, sometimes in the context of the discussion where the quoted statements are found and with a comprehensive and extensive exposition, so that it reads like a commentary on the Talmud itself. The book reveals a strong critical tendency, and throughout it the author attempts to establish the correct reading by comparing parallel sources and manuscripts. Judah had a sense of historical perspective and noted many historical details which were found in the sources. The book is infused with the spirit of the *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz, and in explaining the anthropomorphisms in the aggadah relies upon the theory of the Kavod of that school. There is no doubt that Judah obtained much of his kabbalistic knowledge from Judah he-Ḥasid, even though the latter's name is only once mentioned explicitly in the book. R.N.N. Rabbinovicz, who was the first to publish part of the book (the section containing the letter bet), called it Sefer Yiḥusei Tanna'im ve-Amora'im, in order to differentiate it from the earlier work known as Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im. The letters Bet to Tet were later published by J.L. Fishman (Maimon), at first as a series in Sinai, and later in book form with an introduction by M.H. Katzenellenbogen (Jerusalem, 1963). The original manuscript gets only as far as the name Kruspedai, and it is not clear whether the manuscript is incomplete, or whether Judah did not complete the work. The extensive nature of the work was a hindrance to its being copied, for which reason it was hardly used by scholars until recent times. Judah also wrote other works that are no longer extant, including Sefer ha-Agron, which was apparently a kind of dictionary of realia on the names of the minerals, vegetables, and animals in the Talmud, and, like his first work, included many digressions; a special work on benedictions; and tosafot on a number of tractates. (Those to tractates Beẓah and Sotah are explicitly mentioned by him.)


Urbach, Tosafot, 299–315; A. Epstein, in: mgwj, 39 (1895), 398–403, 447–60, 507–13; A.M. Habermann, Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Ẓarefat (1946), 60, 155–8, 162.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]