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Wolf Heidenheim

Portrait of Wolf Heidenheim, from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.

Wolf (Benjamin) ben Samson Heidenheim (1757 – February 23, 1832) was a German exegete and grammarian born at Heidenheim am Hahnenkamm At an early age Heidenheim was sent to Fürth, where he studied Talmud under Joseph Steinhardt, author of Zikron Yosef, and, from 1777, under Hirsch Janow. Besides Talmudic literature, Heidenheim devoted himself to the study of Hebrew grammar, and particularly of the Masorah. In 1782 he left Fürth, probably on account of Janow's opposition to Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch, of which Heidenheim was an admirer. He went to Frankfurt am Main, where he made the acquaintance of the most prominent scholars, among them Wolf Breidenbach (de) and Solomon Dubno. There began his literary activity, which lasted fifty years. He died at Rödelheim.


  • Works 1
    • His Mahzor 1.1
      • His Pentateuch editions 1.1.1
    • Other publications 1.2
  • Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Heidenheim, encouraged by Dubno, conceived the idea of issuing a revised edition of the Pentateuch, with a commentary of his own. The first work edited by him was Abraham ibn Ezra's Moznayim, to which he added a critical commentary (Offenbach, 1791). Seven years later Heidenheim began his critical edition of the Pentateuch, which he titled Sefer Torat Elohim. It contained the Targum, the commentaries of Rashi and Rashbam, the 'Minḥat Shay of Solomon Norzi (commentary), his own glosses and Masoretic references, and his supercommentary on Rashi, Habanat ha-Miḳra. He based his commentary chiefly on the accents, adding numerous grammatical notes. But the undertaking, on the business side, was too difficult for him alone, and he was compelled to stop at Gen. xliii. 16.

His Mahzor

He next entered into partnership with Baruch Baschwitz, an energetic business man; through the assistance of Breidenbach they obtained from the Count of Solms-Rödelheim, under favorable conditions, a license to establish a printing-press at Rödelheim, whither they removed in 1799. Heidenheim immediately began an edition of the Maḥzor, with a Hebrew commentary by himself and a German translation by himself and Breidenbach (1800). In order to give a correct text, Heidenheim had secured the most ancient manuscripts, among them being one of 1258, as well as the earliest Italian and German editions. At the end of the Maḥzor to Shemini Aẓeret there is printed Heidenheim's Ha-Piyyuṭim veha-Payeṭanim, an essay on the liturgists.

In 1806, Baschwitz having withdrawn, Heidenheim became sole proprietor. In that year he published his Mebo ha-Lashon, a treatise on Hebrew grammar, and in 1808 his Sefer Mishpete ha-Ta'amim,[1] a treatise on the accents according to the ancient grammarians.

His Pentateuch editions

Ten years later Heidenheim recommenced his edition of the Pentateuch, but with a larger scope. It was published in four separate editions in 1818-21:

  • One edition,Me'or 'Enayim, contains the text, the commentary En ha-Ḳore, and the author's treatise (En ha-Sofer) on the square characters
  • Another edition, Moda' la-Binah, contains the text, the commentary of Rashi, and the author's supercommentary;
  • The third edition, Tiḳḳun Sofer, is an unvocalized text for scribes;
  • The fourth contains the text, with a German translation, and a commentary titled Minḥah Ḥadashah.

Other publications

Heidenheim also published:

  • The Pesaḥ Haggadah (German transl.; 1822)
  • The Pirḳe Abot (German transl.; 1823)
  • Siddur Safah Berurah, the daily prayers with a German translation (before 1800)
  • Ma'aseh Ta'tu'im, a polemic against the Kabbalist Nathan Adler (anonymous, but ascribed to Heidenheim)
  • Seder Tish'ah be-Ab (German transl., with notes; 1826)
  • Seliḥdot (German transl., with a Hebrew commentary; 1834)

He also added valuable notes to various works which issued from his press, among them being the Mebo ha-Mishnah of Maimonides, and Solomon Papenheim's Yeri'ot Shelomoh. He left more than a dozen unpublished works, mostly on Hebrew grammar.

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • S. Baer, in Allg. Deutsche Biog.;
  • Eliakim Carmoly, in Revue Orientale, iii. 303 et seq.;
  • Louis Lewin, in Monatsschrift, xliv. 127-128; xlv. 422-432, 549-558;
  • Berliner's Magazin, v. 41 et seq.

See also


  1. ^ הידנהים, בנימין וולף בן שמשון, 1757-1832. "Sefer Detail: משפטי הטעמים - - הידנהים, בנימין וולף בן שמשון, 1757-1832". Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  2. ^ [1]
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