Weiss, Abraham

views updated


WEISS, ABRAHAM (1895–1970), East European talmudic scholar and Zionist. Weiss was born in Podhajce, eastern Galicia. He completed his studies in history and classical philology at the University of Vienna in 1921 and received ordination at the Vienna Rabbinical Seminary in 1922. He taught Talmud and rabbinics at the Institute for Jewish Science in Warsaw (1928–1940) and at Yeshiva University in New York 1940–1967. In 1967 he settled in Israel, lecturing at Bar-Ilan University. From 1935 to 1940 Weiss was vice president of the Mizrachi Organization in Poland; he was also active in the World Zionist Organization for many years. Weiss was noted for his pioneering talmudic research, embodied in several articles dealing with the complete range of tannaitic, amoraic, and early gaonic literature. Most noteworthy for his examination of the Talmud's history and development are Hithavvut ha-Talmud bi-Shelemuto (1943), Le-Ḥeker ha-Talmud (1954), and Al ha-Yeẓirah ha-Sifrutit shel ha-Amora'im (1962). The application of scientific methodology to the clarification of talmudic law and literature and his resultant conclusions are best exemplified in Seder ha-Diyyun; Meḥkarim be-Mishpat ha-Talmud (1957), and Diyyunim u-Verurim be-Bava Kamma (1966). His views on the Mishnah's composition and structure are given in Le-Ḥeker ha-Sifruti shel ha-Mishnah (huca, 16 (1941), 1–33, Heb. sect.). His findings on the Babylonian Talmud's evolvement and the saboraic and early gaonic activities opened many new avenues in talmudic jurisprudence and historiography.


Abraham Weiss Jubilee Volume (1964), 1–80 (Eng. sec.), 1–72 (Heb. sec.). incl. bibl.

[Meyer S. Feldblum]