Rabbinovicz (Rabinovitz), Raphael Nathan Nata

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RABBINOVICZ (Rabinovitz ), RAPHAEL NATHAN NATA (1835–1888), talmudic scholar. Born in Novo-Zhagory, district of Kovno, at the age of 16 he wrote a bibliographical treatise, Siftei Yeshenim Gimmel. Several years later he gave it to the bibliographer Isaac *Benjacob, who used it in compiling his Oẓar ha-Sefarim. Rabbinovicz lived for a time in Lemberg, Galicia, where he published a volume of responsa by R. Meir of Rothenburg (1860) and Ge'on Ya'akov (1863), novellae on the tractate of Eruvin by R. Jacob Kahana of Vilna. Moving on to Pressburg, he published Kunteres Ikkarei ha-Avodah (1863) by his teacher R. Joseph b. Israel Issar of Vilkomir. About that time he learned from Adolph *Jellinek in Vienna of the 14th-century manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud preserved in the Royal Library of Munich. He proceeded to that city, and with the encouragement of R. Joseph Saul *Nathanson, the rabbi of Lemberg, devoted himself to copying the variant readings in order to publish them. In 1864 he published a small booklet, Alim le-Mivḥan (lithographed from his handwriting), containing samples of the variant readings found in the Talmud manuscript. The following year he published a similar, but more detailed, treatise, Kunteres Dikdukei Soferim, in the Hebrew weekly Ha-Maggid.

Between 1867 and 1886 he published 15 volumes of Dikdukei Soferim, containing the variant readings on all the tractates of the orders of Zera'im, Mo'ed, and Nezikin, and on the tractates of Zevaḥim, and Menaḥot. The variant readings are accompanied by explanatory notes in which readings found in other manuscripts–in the writings of early authorities and in old printed editions–are recorded. In his introduction to Dikdukei Soferim Rabbinovicz gave a history of the printing of the Babylonian Talmud. A revised and much enlarged version of this essay Ma'amar al Hadpasat ha-Talmud appeared later in volume 8 (1877). In the course of his work he traveled widely to consult manuscripts and early printed editions in various libraries. He was aided greatly in his efforts by the Munich Jewish banker Abraham *Merzbacher, who supported him materially and permitted him to buy at his expense all the books and manuscripts he needed. After the death of Merzbacher, Rabbinovicz compiled, at the request of the banker's son, a catalog (Ohel Avraham, 1888) of the rich library he had amassed for his father. Its treasures included 156 manuscripts and 43 incunabula.

Despite the material support he received, Rabbinovicz was forced to engage in the selling of books and manuscripts. He died in Kiev, while on one of his business journeys to Russia. Shortly before his death he began printing Dikdukei Soferim on the tractate of Ḥullin. The work on the volume was completed by Heinrich Ehrentreu and appeared in 1897.

Rabbinovicz also wrote Moreh ha-Moreh (1871), a critique of D.B. *Zomber's Moreh Derekh, about Rabbenu Gershom's and Rashi's commentaries on the tractate Mo'ed Katan, and published a small part of the medieval Yiḥusei Tanna'im va-Amora'im (1874). He also contributed to Ha-Maggid, where his notes on Jehiel M. Zunz's Irha-Ẓedek appeared (vols. 19–20, 1875–76).


R.N. Rabbinovicz, Ma'amar al Hadpasatha-Talmud, ed. by A.M. Habermann (19522), 261–7; A. Schischa, in: Aresheth, 3 (1961), 376–91; Y. Raphael, ibid., 392–4.

[Tovia Preschel]

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Rabbinovicz (Rabinovitz), Raphael Nathan Nata

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Rabbinovicz (Rabinovitz), Raphael Nathan Nata