Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 14

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FEFFER ---- CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOLF HEIDENHEIM 73
prayers into German, his Hebrew commentary, and, above all,
his literary-historical introduction and his survey of the liturgical
poets. The latter, which appeared at the end of the Mahzor (and
was published five years after his death as a separate volume under
the title
Ha-Piyyutim we-ha-Payyetanim
), marks Heidenheim as a
pioneer in the study of the history of sacred poetry. Arranged
alphabetically by author, and including a bibliographically an-
notated list of the poets in the Ashkenazic prayer ritual, this work
devotes itself to a determination of the authorship of the
piyyutim
and to a description of the lives of their authors. I t was un-
doubtedly this study which paved the way for Zunz’s monumental
works on the literary history of synagogue poetry.
Heidenheim was a trail-blazer in yet another phase of linguistic
history. Although the Masoretes had begun to establish the correct
vowels and accents in the Holy Scriptures at a very early date and
although much had been written on the subject prior to Heiden-
heim’s time, he was the first to undertake a scientific investigation
of the development of the points and accents. At the same time he
sought to establish a correct Masoretic text by examining all
available manuscripts and early editions of the Bible. No fewer
than a half-dozen treatises on these subjects issued from his pen
and his press, either separately or as part of his numerous editions
of the Pentateuch and other books of the Bible. In addition, as
many treatises exist in manuscript at the present time (and are
undoubtedly doomed so to remain).
I l l
Heidenheim regarded highly Mendelssohn’s translation of the
Bible and his commentary, the
Be ur.
He saw in his master an
admirable combination of reason and belief, and in his com-
mentary, which is faithful to traditional interpretation, the apogee
of perfection. Mendelssohn’s
Be'ur
restored to Biblical exegesis
the important position of grammatical analysis, which was lost
after David Kimhi. Heidenheim wrote a similar commentary on
Rashi, which appeared in several complete editions of the Pen-
tateuch. This work, entitled
Habanat ha-Mikra
(Understanding
the Scriptures), utilizes largely an analytical-grammatical method
in its interpretation of Rashi. I t emphasizes and underscores the
element of
peshat
in the great Biblical commentary which combines
the rationalistic-linguistic method with a survey of the Midrashic
view of the world. Heidenheim seeks to focus the reader’s attention
upon the rationalistic-grammatical. Accordingly, he provides him
with abundant information of a linguistic nature, interspersed
with cross references to Talmudic and medieval sources. The end