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Ẓemaḥ ben Paltoi


ẒEMAḤ BEN PALTOI , gaon of Pumbedita (872–890), great-grandfather of *Sherira Gaon. Comparatively few of Ẓemaḥ's responsa are signed with his full name. Many more responsa were only signed Rav Ẓemaḥ, but several of these belong to him. Tradition has it that he was the first to compile a systematic dictionary of the Talmud. Not a single fragment of this work has been preserved, and even possible quotations from it are so equivocal that some modern scholars have denied its existence. The lexicon was evidently compiled in order to facilitate the study of the Talmud in lands distant from Babylonia. The lexicon was popular until the end of the Middle Ages.


S.D. Luzzatto, Beit ha-Oẓar (Lvov, 1847), 46b; L. Ginzberg, Geonica, 1 (1909), 159–61; S. Poznański, in: jqr, 3 (1912/13), 409f.; J. Mann, ibid., 11 (1920/21), 447f.; B.M. Lewin, in: Ginzei Kedem, 5 (1934), 46–48; H.F. Taubes, in: Scritti in memoria di Sally Mayer (1956), 126–41 (Heb. section); Abramson, Merkazim, 10, 56.

[Meir Havazelet]

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