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ASHER BEN JACOB HA-LEVI:

Talmudic lexicographer; lived in Osnabrück, Prussia, toward the end of the thirteenth century. His father was probably the "Jacob ha-Levi" mentioned by Eliezer ha-Darshan as his teacher, and his nephew was Isaac ben Judah ha-Levi, author of (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1127). Asher was the pupil of Samuel ben Baruch of Bamberg. He wrote explanations of various parts of the MaḦzor, to be found in MSS. Munich, No. 423, Bodleian, No. 1102, as well as in a private MS. in the library of David Kaufmann (in "Monatsschrift," xli. 146). He is especially severe upon the "men of France and the Islands of the Sea," complaining that they had tampered with the liturgy, in some places omitting words and in others adding to the received text. Asher is best known as the author of the small edition of the 'Aruk contained in MS. Berne, No. 200, which he compiled in the year 1290 within the space of five weeks for his nephew Isaac ben Eleazer ha-Levi. This recension contains 142 folios, and follows in the main the Regensburger MS. of the same work. Asher has, however, inserted into his edition a number of words dealing with the liturgy that are not to be found in the large 'Aruk. This manuscript served as the basis for Buxtorf's "Lexicon Hebræo-Chaldaicum."

Asher must not be confounded with a man of the same name who lived during the twelfth century, and perhaps belonged to the same family and who corresponded with Eliezer ben Nathan (), and lived in Worms or that neighborhood. According to Gross ("Magazin," x. 76), this latter Asher was the son of Jacob ben Isaac ben Eliezer of Worms (Zunz, "L. G." p. 156). Perles thinks that Eleazer ben Asher ha-Levi, who collected the valuable "Sefer Zikronot," was his son (Neubauer, "Medieval Jewish Chronicles," i. xx.; Gaster, "Chronicles of JeraḦmeel," p. 1). From the similarity in names, Perles argues that the family of Asher ben Jacob ha-Levi must be connected with the older Ha-Levi family of which Zunz has given ("Literaturgesch." p. 156) the pedigree (compare also Salfeld, "Nürnberger Memorbuch," pp. 104, 361).

Bibliography:
  • Zunz, Ritus, p. 195;
  • Perles, in Monatsschrift, xxv. 372, and in Jubelschrift zum Siebzigsten Geburstage des Prof. Dr. H. Grätz, pp. 1 et seq.;
  • Kaufmann, in Monatsschrift, xxxiv. 185 et seq.;
  • Weiss, in Monatsschrift, xli. 146;
  • Neubauer, Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts of Bodl. Libr. col. 311.
L. G. G.
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