RABBINOVICZ, RAPHAEL NATHAN:
Talmudical scholar and antiquarian; born at Novo-Zhagory, government of Kovno, Russia, in 1835; died at Kiev Nov. 28, 1888. At the age of twenty-eight he left Russia, and, having spent some time in Lemberg, Presburg, and Eisenstadt, went to Munich, where he finally settled. There he found buried in the royal library the famous "Codex Hebraicus." This manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud was written in 1342 and had the good fortune to escape the hands of the censors. One hundred and fifty years before Rabbinovicz first saw this manuscript its significance had already been pointed out by R. Nathan Weil, the author of the "Ḳorban Netan'el," but nobody had yet ventured to undertake the immense task of editing it. Rabbinovicz determined to make a critical examination of it. His task was greatly facilitated by the munificence of Abraham Merzbacher, a wealthy antiquarian of Munich, who appropriated a large sum of money for the maintenance of Rabbinovicz while engaged inhis work of research, and who put his magnificent library at his disposal.
Rabbinovicz spent six years in study and travel. During this period he visited many libraries in France, Italy, England, and Russia. Everywhere he gathered material for his magnum opus, the "Diḳduḳe Soferim." In 1868 the first volume, comprising Berakot and Zera'im, was published. It was followed in quick succession by others; fifteen volumes were published by 1888; the sixteenth volume was being prepared for publication when death closed his career.
The "Diḳduḳe Soferim, Variæ Lectiones in Mischnam et in Talmud Babylonieum," a work that is indispensable to the student of the Talmud and its antiquities, gave to Rabbinovicz a world-wide reputation. Scholars in every part of Europe, Jewish and non-Jewish, turned to him whenever a disputed point in Talmud needed to be elucidated. Among other works written or edited by Rabbinovicz are the following: "Ḳonṭres 'Iḳḳere ha-'Abodah,"a collection of rules and regulations for the offering of sacrifices at the Temple (Presburg, 1863); "Ga'on Ya'aḳob," a treatise on 'Erubin by Rabbi Jacob of Vienna; "Moreh ha-Moreh," a reply to the attacks of Zomber in his "Moreh Derek" (Munich, 1871); "Yiḥuse Tana'im we-Amoraim," a genealogy of the great Talmudical rabbis, based on an old Oxford manuscript (edited, with notes; Lyck, 1874); "He'erot we-Tiḥunim," annotations to the "'Ir ha-Ẓedeḳ" of J. M. Zunz (ib. 1875); "Ma'amar al-Hadefasat ha-Talmud," a critical review of the different editions of the Babylonian Talmud since 1484 (Munich, 1877); "Ohel Abraham," a catalogue of Merzbacher's library (ib. 1888).
- Münchener Allgemeine Zeitung, Nov., 1888;
- Ha-Meliẓ, Nov., 1888;
- Zeitlin, Bibl. Post-Mendels, p. 281.