Galician scholar and editor of Hebrew works; born at Lemberg Feb. 2, 1827. His father, Isaiah Abraham Buber, was versed in Talmudic literature and Jewish philosophy, and was Solomon's teacher in the latter subject; but for his son's Biblical and Talmudic studies he carefully selected competent professional teachers. The desire was soon aroused in Solomon to make independent research and to put the result of his work into literary form—a disposition which proved of the utmost value to Jewish literature.Biographical Data.
At twenty years of age Buber married and entered commercial pursuits. He rose by rapid degrees until he became "Handelskammerrath," and auditor of the Austro-Hungarian bank, the national bank, and the Galician savings-bank. This last position he still (1902) retains. Buber is also president of the "Geschäftshalle," vice-president of the free kitchen, and honorary member of a working men's union. For more than a quarter of a century he has been one of the directors of the Lemberg congregation; he is on the committee of the Bernstein foundation, and takes a leading part in various philanthropic associations.Midrash Editions.
While active in public life, Buber has also devoted himself to learned research. The Midrash literature had special attractions for him; and his activity in this field has been remarkable in extent. Its first result was an edition of the so-called "Pesiḳta de-Rab Kahana," with an elaborate commentary andan introduction which exhaustively discuss all questions pertaining to the history of this old Haggadah collection. The book appeared as a publication of the society known under the name of "Mekiẓe Nirdamim," Lyck, 1868. Buber's method of dealing with the difficult undertaking was new to scientific literature; and both introduction and commentary received the unstinted praise of the scholarly world. The introduction was translated into German by Aug. Wünsche, and published by him with his translation of the Midrash, Leipsic, 1884.
Other Midrashic works edited on a similar method and scale by Buber are: collectanea from Midrash Abkir, Vienna, 1883; Tobiah b. Eliezer's Midrash Leḳaḥ Ṭob, Wilna, 1884; the original Midrash Tanḥuma, Wilna, 1885; collectanea from Midrash Eleh ha-Debarim Zuṭṭa, Vienna, 1885; Sifre d'Agadta, short Midrashim on the Book of Esther, Wilna, 1886; Midrash Tehillim, Wilna, 1891; Midrash Mishle, Wilna, 1893; Midrash Shemuel, Cracow, 1893; Midrash Agada, an anonymous haggadic commentary on the Pentateuch, Vienna, 1894; Midrash Zuṭṭa, on the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes, Berlin, 1894; Aggadat Esther, haggadic treatises on the Book of Esther, anonymous, Cracow, 1897; Midrash Ekah Rabbati, Wilna, 1899; Yalḳ Makiri, on the Psalms, Berdychev, 1899; Menahem b. Solomon's Midrash Sekel Ṭob, on the Books of Genesis and Exodus, ii. vol. 2, Berlin, 1900-02. This last work is also published by the society Mekiẓe Nirdamim.
As this array of publications shows, Buber is a prolific writer; yet the scientific quality of his work does not suffer on this account. At the outset he adopted a certain system to which he has consistently adhered. For a determination of the reading of the text he avails himself of all accessible manuscripts and printed works—and everything is accessible to him, as he spares no expense in obtaining copies of manuscripts and the rarest printed editions; he conscientiously records the various readings in foot-notes, and he bestows special care, chiefly in the older Midrashim, on the correction and explanation of words in the text borrowed from the Greek and the Latin. In the introductions, which almost assume the proportions of independent works (the introduction to the Tanḥuma embraces 212 pages octavo), everything that bears upon the history of the work under consideration is discussed, and a compilation is given of the authors or works cited by the Midrash or serving as sources for it, and those which in turn have drawn upon the Midrash. His work is distinguished by thoroughness, and reveals his synthetic ability as well as the vast extent of his reading. The only serious opposition to the views encountered by Buber has been in regard to his theory concerning the Tanḥuma.
Buber has distinguished himself in other departments of literature. His first work was a biography of the grammarian Elias Levita, published at Leipsic in 1856. After this he edited the following: "De Lates' Gelehrtengeschichte Sha'are Zion," Jaroslaw, 1885; Zedekiah b. Abraham's liturgic work, "Shibbole ha-Leket," Wilna, 1886; "Pesher Dabar," Saadia's treatise on the Hapax Legomena of the Bible, Przemysl, 1888; Samuel b. Jacob Jam'a's "Agur," introduction and additions to the 'Aruk, Breslau, 1888 (in "Grätz Jubelschrift"); Samuel b. Nissim's commentary on Job, "Ma'yan Gannim," Berlin, 1889; Biurim: Jedaiah Penini's explanations of Midrash Tehillim, Cracow, 1891, and a commentary on Lamentations by Joseph Caro, Breslau, 1901 (in the Kaufmann Gedenkbuch); "Anshe Shem," biographies and epitaphs of the rabbis and heads of academies who lived and worked at Lemberg, covering a period of nearly four hundred years (1500-1890), Cracow, 1895. In these works Buber appears as a philologist and as a careful writer of biographies of scholars, especially of the Jewish scholars of Poland.
Buber's extensive knowledge of Jewish history and literature is also displayed in additions to the works of others and in numerous contributions to Hebrew magazines, such as: "Meged Yeraḥin," Kobak's "Jeschurun," "Ha-Lebanon," "Ha-Maggid," "Maggid Mishneh," "Ha-'Ibri," "Ha-Meliẓ," "HaḤabaẓelet," "Ha-Karmel," Joseph Kohn's "Oẓar Ḥokmah," "Bet Talmud," "Ha-Shaḥar," "Ha-Asif," "Keneset Yisrael," "Zion," "Oẓar ha-Sifrut," "Ha-Eshkol."
Among the works of his more recent years the following may be mentioned: "Yeri'ot Shelomoh," a supplement to Abraham b. Elijah Wilna's "Rab Po'alim," Warsaw, 1894; a criticism of Yalḳuṭ Makhiri, on Isaiah, ed. Schapira, Cracow, 1895; a criticism of the Pesiḳta, with an introduction by David Luria (ed. Warsaw, 1893), Cracow, 1895; "Ḳiryah Nisgabah," on the rabbis in Zolkiev up to the letter ך, published in "Ha-Eshkol," i-iii., 1898-1900; and his contribution to the "Steinschneider Festschrift," wherein he propounds a new theory concerning the "Petiḥtot" (Introductions) in Midrash Ekah Rabbati.
Buber corresponds on learned subjects with many well-known Jewish scholars. He has proved himself a veritable Mæcenas of learning. The cost involved in the publication of his works has usually been borne by him, and he has presented gratuitous copies to libraries and indigent scholars.
- M. Reines, Dor wa-Ḥakamaw, i. 28-40;
- Sefer Zikkaron, p. 7, Warsaw, 1889.