Samson ben Eliezer

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SAMSON BEN ELIEZER (b.c. 1330), German scribe and authority in his vocation. Samson was born in Saxony. When still a child he was taken to Prague by his parents, who died there when he was eight years old. The community thereupon apparently apprenticed him to a Torah scribe called Issachar. Issachar passed on to Samson many oral traditions and much professional lore, and also gave him an ancient Tikkun ("compendium on the laws of writing tefillin") compiled by the scribe Abraham b. Moses of Sinzheim, who had been a pupil of Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg and who had devoted his life to clarifying the regulations concerning the writing of scrolls of the Pentateuch, tefillin, and mezuzot, in which all the pertinent material was carefully collated. Samson eventually became so proficient in this craft, particularly in the writing of tefillin, that his fame spread throughout Germany. He revised Abraham's work and added his own notes, the resulting work being known as Sefer Barukh she-Amar. Samson was also known as Barukh she-Amar from the melodious manner in which he rendered the prayer beginning with these words whenever he functioned as ḥazzan. Samson achieved great importance as a preserver of the German tradition in the sphere of halakhah, based as it was primarily upon the authority of Meir of Rothenburg. Samson's work was written after he had emigrated to Ereẓ Israel and had seen the great neglect of his profession in that country. He succeeded in introducing there many improvements in the writing of tefillin and was instrumental in the disqualification of scribes whose writing he found unacceptable. Samson is known to have traveled in various places, and to have examined and invalidated tefillin with the approval of the local scholars in the district of Lausitz and in Erfurt, Germany.

An incomplete version of Sefer Barukh she-Amar was published in Dubnow in 1796, under the title Dinei Ketivat Tefillin. The complete version was apparently first published in Shklov in 1804. The published work contains the notes of Yom Tov Lipmann Muelhausen – which can possibly be distinguished from the text of the book since they are devoted exclusively to the laws of the Sefer Torah. The Perush… Al Ẓurot Otiyyot ha-Alef Bet, which is the second part of the book, is entirely the work of Yom Tov Lipmann – based upon Samson's work. The text in our possession is in a state of considerable disorder, text and notes by many hands being so intermingled as to be practically indistinguishable, though later additions can sometimes be recognized. Similar disorder is to be found in the many manuscripts of the book still in existence. The book was known to all the great posekim, among them Jacob *Moellin, Joshua *Soncino, David Blumes, who lived in Ereẓ Israel (cf. Responsa Maharshal, no. 37), and Elijah *Shapira.


J. Kaufmann, Yom Tov Lipmann Muelhausen (1927), 12, 71–75.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]