AUERBACH, ISAAC () B. ISAIAH (also known as Reis):
Grammarian, and exponent of Rashi; flourished toward the beginning of the eighteenth century at Fürth, Amsterdam, and Frankfort-on-the-Main. The works of Auerbach, which are enumerated below, are particularly interesting because of the history of their origin, which curiously illuminates the educational condition of the German Jews of the period. Auerbach, who, like all Jewish scholars of his time, devoted himself exclusively to the study of the Talmud, relates that, as regards certain passages, Rashi's commentary on the Bible was to him a closed book, because even the simplest elements of Hebrew grammar were unknown to him.
The scholars of Fürth, however, were not only incapable of expounding the difficult passages in Rashi, but ridiculed Auerbach's peculiar taste for Hebrew philology. He thereupon left Fürth and went to Amsterdam, where for ten years he studied Hebrew grammar with Samuel Posen. As the fruit of his labors he published (Wilmersdorf, 1718) "Girsa de-Yanuḳa" (The Boy's Study), an elementary grammar with paradigms in Hebrew and Judæo-German. This—one of the first elementary Hebrew grammars written by a Jew—met with such success, particularly in Frankfort, where Auerbach had meanwhile settled, that the author soon afterward published his second Judæo-German grammar (Fürth, 1728), entitled "Shuta de-Yanuḳa" (The Boy's Talk). The Hebrew and German elementary book of Baruch (Bendet) b. Michael Moses Meseritz (Altona, 1808; Breslau, 1814), entitled "Girsa, de-Yanuḳta" (The Study of Childhood), is based on excerpts from these two works.
Auerbach had not forgotten that he had been first stimulated to the study of grammar by the works of Rashi; and he now published his comments and explanations on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch (Sulzbach, 1730; Fürth, 1762), under the title "Beer Reḥobot" (Well of Enlargement); also reissued, after the death of the author, by his son Aaron and extended by him to the Five Rolls. This book may be ranked among the best supercommentaries that have been written on Rashi's Bible commentary, and has proved of great benefit both to teachers and to pupils. Auerbach also translated into Judæo-German the "Beḥinat 'Olam" of Jedidiah b. Abraham Bedersi, which, under the title "Zaphnath-paaneah" (Gen. xli. 45, "revealer of secrets"; LXX, "savior of the world"), was first published at Sulzbach in 1743, and has since been frequently reprinted. Appended to this work is Auerbach's Judæo-German translation of Bedersi's "Baḳḳashat ha-Memin."
Auerbach's father was a martyr; but the occasion on which he met death is not known.
- Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica, i. 72, 73;
- Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 589;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 908;
- idem, Bibliographisches Handbuch, No. 143.