Margoliot, Moses ben Simeon

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MARGOLIOT, MOSES BEN SIMEON (d. 1781), Lithuanian rabbi and commentator on the Jerusalem Talmud. Margoliot was born in Kedziniai, near Kovno, Lithuania. His pupils included *Elijah of Vilna, then a boy of seven. Margoliot served as rabbi in several communities in the Samogitia region of Lithuania.

His main claim to fame rests on his important commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, to all intents and purposes the first of its kind. His commentary is divided into two parts: Penei Moshe, an explanation of the text; and Mareh ha-Panim which gives the parallel passages in the Babylonian Talmud, and attempts to explain the differences between the two with regard to both text and content. Only part of his commentary, to the order Nashim (Amsterdam, 1754), and to the order Nezikin and the tractate Niddah (Leghorn, 1770), was printed with the text in his lifetime. His commentaries to the remaining tractates were published after his death (to Berakhot, Leghorn, 1785?) and the full commentary was not published until 80 years after his death, together with the text of the Talmud (Zhitomir, 1860–67). It has become the standard commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud and has been printed in almost every edition, affording ample evidence of Margoliot's vast erudition in Talmud and rabbinic literature as a whole. He paid careful attention to problems of the text, and had at his disposal many early manuscripts. He was the first to realize the vital importance of the Tosefta for an understanding of the Jerusalem Talmud, and he had an ancient manuscript of it which was superior to the printed text of his day both in completeness and accuracy. Margoliot also endeavored to acquire the knowledge of the natural sciences requisite for a proper understanding of the Jerusalem Talmud. In 1779, when he was nearly 70 years of age, his name is found among the students enrolled in the botanical department of the University of Frankfurt on the Oder. His interest in botany was undoubtedly due to his desire better to understand the agricultural laws in Ereẓ Israel found in the order of Zera'im in the Jerusalem Talmud, but to which there is no *Gemara in the Babylonian.

Margoliot's commentary is one of the two standard commentaries on the Jerusalem Talmud, of much greater importance than that of David *Fraenkel, and has become indispensable to the student. From his introduction to the commentary, it is clear that he wandered from country to country. For several years he served as a rabbi in Amsterdam, during which time his commentary to the order Nashim was printed. He was in London for some time before 1754, and was in Leghorn when his commentary to the order Nezikin was published there. The statement by Joshua Heschel *Lewin in his book Aliyyot Eliyahu, 28 that Margoliot traveled to Vilna after the publication of his commentary to Nashim, and there met R. Elijah of Vilna, must be regarded with reservation, because the latter never saw his commentary. In his commentary, Margoliot mentioned two of his works: Be'er Mayim Ḥayyim, a commentary to the tractates Shabbat and Eruvin, and Penei ha-Menorah, on the Pentateuch. He died in Brody, Galicia.


Gelber, in: jjlg, 13 (1920), 132; Lewin, ibid., 15 (1923), 92–94; L. Ginzberg (Ginzburg), Perushim ve-Ẓiddushim ba-Yerushalmi, 1 (1941), 55–58 (Eng. introd.).

[Abraham David]