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The Responsa of R. Meir of Rothenburg — Prague edition / תשובות מהר"ם מרוטנבורג דפוס פראג

שמחה עמנואל and Simcha Emanuel
Tarbiẕ / תרביץ
כרך נז‎, חוברת ד‎ (תמוז-אלול תשמ"ח), pp. 559-597
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23597685
Page Count: 39
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The Responsa of R. Meir of Rothenburg — Prague edition / תשובות מהר"ם מרוטנבורג דפוס פראג
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Abstract

A concerted effort was made in Germany in the latter half of the thirteenth century to collate the responsa and decisions of the tosafists, putting them into special collections. This activity was mainly undertaken by the academy of R. Meir of Rothenburg, the outstanding scholar of the period in Germany. The present article examines one of the major and intricate fruits of this labour: the responsa of R. Meir of Rothenburg, published first by the son-in-law of the Maharal of Prague in 1608 and again by Moses A. Bloch of Budapest in 1895. We describe parallel manuscripts of the work, their nature and their contributions as an aid in correcting the text of the publication and assistance in comprehending the character of the collection. We identify the various sections of which the collection was composed and their respective editors. We attempt to follow the metamorphoses of the collection from its first edited manuscript until its first publication. The collection contains 1022 responsa. It was published in its entirety from one manuscript. We possess many manuscripts which parallel the book (including one in the Jewish Museum of Prague that has not yet reached the free world). The examination of the manuscripts clearly indicates that three separate collections of the responsa of the Maharam comprise the Prague edition. The first collection includes Nos. 1-659 of the work while the second contains Nos 660-1018. The editors of these two collections lived at the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century. The first was a student of R. Ḥayyim b. Jehiel Ḥefeẕ Zahav of Cologne, and the other a student of R. Jedidiah of Nuremberg. The third collection includes Nos. 1019-1022 and was edited in the latter half of the fourteenth century. We have found evidence that numerous scholars made use of the three collections of the responsa even before the book was published in Prague. The most important of these scholars, beyond a doubt, were the Maharil and R. Joseph Caro. R. Joseph Caro had a manuscript which contained the entire Prague edition, and he copied tens of responsa from it in his magnum opus Bet Yosef. The Maharil was apparently the last collator of the work before it was published two centuries later. It was he who combined the three collections which compose the Prague edition and transformed it into a single work. He also appended a responsum composed by both his father and father-in-law at the end of the volume.

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