HAGGAHOT (Heb. הַגָּהוֹת "glosses"; "corrections"), a term used both to mean the examination of manuscript and printed works in order to correct errors and in the sense of "glosses," i.e., notes and brief comments on the text.

This entry is arranged according to the following outline:

In the Bible, the verb, haggiha means to enlighten (cf. Ps. 18:29), and Kutscher conjectures that originally it had the same meaning when applied to books, since the main task of the maggiha (person making the haggahah) in the early period was to go over faded writing in order to "brighten" it.

Correction of Errors

Haggahah has been an integral element of writing and printing from the beginning since it is humanly impossible to avoid error. The types of error (both the authors' and the copyists') and correspondingly the categories of haggahot can be classified in two main groups.


This type of correction was mostly done by the author himself. In early literature with a large circulation the haggahah was done by scholars and experts. It was reported of Isaac Ruba, a tanna in the school of Judah ha-Nasi, that he had a corrected text of the Mishnah (TJ, Ma'as. Sh. 5:1, 55d). At a later period the amora Zeira complained that contemporary scholars did not correct the Mishnah in their possession in accordance with the version of R. Isaac (ibid). Haggahot of this type were done both on the basis of original and established texts, but at times they were also made at the discretion of the maggiha. Various scholars have pointed out haggahot of this later type which have found their way into the text of the Mishnah. Fragments of the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides in the author's own handwriting were discovered in the Cairo Genizah by M. Lutzki (d. 1976), who published them at the end of the Schulsinger edition (1947), and from them it is possible to trace the process of corrections and emendations whereby the final work was created. Manuscripts of Maimonides' commentary to the Mishnah, likewise thought to be in his own hand, have also been discovered and contain many of the author's haggahot; in some of them he changes his mind and gives a different opinion. The text of the Ba'alei ha-Nefesh of Abraham b. David of Posquières in the edition of Y. Kafaḥ (1965), a text emended by the author following the hassagot ("criticisms") of Zerahiah b. Isaac ha-Levi Gerondi, is a similar example. From this type of correction the "Haggahot literature" (see below) later developed.


This category consists essentially of technical mistakes resulting from such common copyists' errors as repeating the same word twice (dittography), omitting one of two similar adjacent letters or words (haplography), and missing words or lines because the same word occurs further on in a passage (homoioteleuton). In early times (and in Yemen until quite recently) there was also a class of errors which resulted from the practice of the "publishers" of those days of appointing a group of people (mainly slaves), skilled writers who wrote from dictation exactly what they heard (to this type belong such errors as eilav, "unto him," for el av, "unto father"). This type of error was obviated in copying the text of the Bible because of the prohibition against copying from dictation. The correction of such errors, made by others than the author himself, was done by comparing the text with an early or authoritative copy which adhered closely to the original text.

In early days a checked, original copy was deposited in the Temple, library, or archives, and whenever necessary the correct text was determined by it. The Midrash (Deut. R. 9:9) reports a tradition of a special *Sefer Torah written by Moses and placed in the ark so that the correct text could be established (see S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950), 85f.). There are also reports of Sifrei Torah that were preserved in the Temple for the same purpose, and from them the Sefer Torah of the king was checked by the supreme bet din. The scroll was called "the Temple scroll," and texts were examined by a group of "book correctors" in the Temple, whose wages were paid from the public funds of the Temple treasury (Ket. 106a, Lieberman op. cit., 22); according to some commentators these correctors also examined the scrolls belonging to individuals and were also paid from the communal treasury. Similar scrolls were known which were regarded as especially accurate because they had been written by an expert scribe and had been meticulously checked; such a scroll was called "a checked (muggah) scroll." Examples were those written by Assi (Lieberman op. cit., 25). A medieval manuscript of the Mishneh Torah exists (Neubauer, Bod. Cat, no. 577) which was corrected on the basis of the author's text, and Maimonides confirms this by his signature at the end of the manuscript. Later this manuscript was kept at the bet din, and it was forbidden to use it for any purpose other than correcting later copies (according to the instructions in the colophon).

Uncorrected Torah scrolls were regarded as unauthoritative, and it was forbidden not only to use them but even to keep them (Ket. 19b); at a later period this prohibition was extended to include halakhic works (Sh. Ar., YD, 279). A complete set of halakhic rules was laid down for the correction of Sifrei Torah – their fitness for public reading being conditional on many details, including accurate haggahah. A scroll containing a certain number of errors was disqualified, and it was forbidden to correct it since the haggahah would spoil its appearance. If the errors were less numerous, an added letter could be erased or a missing one inserted. In the event of an error in the Divine Name, which it is forbidden to erase, it was sometimes the practice to peel off a layer from the parchment (Pithei Teshuvah to Sh. Ar., YD 276:2). The haggahah of Sifrei Torah is a purely technical task, as the text itself is naturally never emended and no discussion on the text of the Bible is found in talmudic literature (Lieberman, op. cit. 47). In some places, the scribe was made responsible for the haggahah (Resp. Rashba, pt. 1. no. 1056). There is evidence of the existence of corrected manuscripts of the Mishnah, such as "in an accurate Mishnah corrected from that of R. Ephraim" (Maḥzor Vitry, ed. by S. Hurwitz (19232), 536). The following correctors of the Mishnah are known from the era of printing: Joseph Ashkenazi; the "tanna of Safed," Samuel Lerma; Soliman Oḥana; Menahem de Lonzano; Bezalel Ashkenazi; and his pupil Solomon Adani.


The failure to distinguish between the two types of haggahah, as well as between corrections based on accurate texts and sources and those based on the judgment of the scribe, together with an exceptional caution against changing the actual text, caused the haggahot to be relegated to the margin instead of the text itself being corrected. As various copyists failed to appreciate this, the haggahot were subsequently incorporated into the body of the text. A critical examination in later ages revealed and indicated places where external haggahot had been arbitrarily and artificially included in the text (the question of the different sources of the material of the Babylonian Talmud and its transmission, which are known to have influenced the text, belongs to a different category). The geonim already pointed out this phenomenon (see M.M. Kasher, in Gemara Shelemah, Pesaḥim pt. 1 (1960), introd.). Despite this, it should be noted that in the main the text of the authoritative halakhic literature was meticulously preserved because of its importance in legal decisions and in leading a life in accordance with halakhah. The Jerusalem Talmud and the various halakhic and aggadic Midrashim were not preserved in a sufficiently corrected form, however, because the attitude to them was less punctilious. An example of how such haggahot creep into a text is found in the following story. Rabbi Ḥayyim of Volozhin once asked his teacher, the Gaon of Vilna, about the word, ḥesed, that appeared in a particular line of the *Zohar. The word seemed out of place. The Vilna Gaon answered that a number of lines were missing in the manuscript on which Rabbi Ḥayyim's printed edition was based. In the manuscript, the word, ḥaser, appears, implying that some lines were missing. The typesetter misread the word, replacing the letter, resh, with a dalet and inserting the word into the text. (see Y.D. Rubin (ed.), Nefesh ha-Ḥayyim, 1989, 461).

The haggahot of various scholars affected the text of the Talmud, and this custom apparently became so widespread that *Gershom b. Judah of Mainz (who is stated to have copied books, among them the Bible) found it necessary to impose a ban on those who emended books, although it seems that this step was unsuccessful in completely eradicating the practice. A few generations later Jacob *Tam came out sharply against the emendation of books (introduction to Sefer ha-Yashar). He described the method of his grandfather, Rashi, stating that he did not emend the text itself but noted his emendations in the margin. It was Rashi's pupils who corrected the text in conformity with these notes, and Tam criticizes them for it. He also differentiates between haggahah which consisted of erasing words and that which was merely addition. Among other things he reveals that his brother Samuel b. Meir (Rashbam) also frequently made haggahot in the body of the text. It is important to note that the present text of the Babylonian Talmud is considerably influenced by Rashi's emendations, in contrast to the haggahot of the tosafists and other scholars. Perhaps this fact is to be attributed to the attitude of Tam. In the age of printing this same process is encountered. Many of the haggahot of Solomon Luria have been introduced into the printed text of the Talmud, though he noted them in a special book and they were originally published in this form. In later editions of the Talmud, however, the text was already emended according to his notes (see below). The haggahot of Samuel Edels (the Maharsha), who was opposed to haggahot of the text (see his introduction), were nevertheless incorporated in the text.


During the age of printing the influence of proofreaders and printers on the texts of books became increasingly important, and today it is occasionally possible to trace the methods of different proofreaders. After it had been established beyond doubt that the Leiden manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud is the one from which the first edition was published in Venice (1523, by Bomberg), Lieberman showed in his essay on the tractate Horayot in the Jerusalem Talmud how great a share the proofreader – Cornelius Adelkind – had in establishing the present text (Sefer ha-Yovel… C. Albeck, 1963, 283–305). The research of R.N.N. Rabbinovicz on the text of the Babylonian Talmud provides a great deal of information on the activities of its first proofreaders. The most prominent of them was Ḥiyya Meir b. David, one of the rabbis of Venice, who was given the responsibility of correcting the whole Talmud edition by Bomberg in the course of three years (1520–23), as well as the commentary of Asher b. Jehiel. The proofreader of the first tractates of the Soncino Talmud (1484) was Gabriel b. Aaron Strasburg, and Rabbinovicz shows that his work is very faulty.

Gradually notes and corrections in the margins of books increased until they at times assumed the character of a textual apparatus. Still later these notes were even collected and issued in the form of independent works in which the word haggahot generally appeared in the title. The word is applied to many books, though their contents and character differ from one another.

Haggahot Literature

In the haggahot literature which developed, two main groups can be distinguished, the first constituting additions and supplements to the contents of the work – glosses – and the other consisting of emendations and notes to the text. The most prominent and best known of the first group were compiled on works of codification. An additional characteristic common to books of this category is that they lack formal structure and, since they were not authoritative, they were subjected to later adaptation and editing.


Such glosses were added to the great halakhic code, Hilkhot ha-Rif, of Isaac *Alfasi. Only fragments remain of the earliest gloss, the haggahot of his pupil, Ephraim (Abraham b. David, Temim De'im no. 68 and citations in the Ha-Ma'or of Zerahyah ha-Levi). One of the important motives for such works is the tendency to make the code reflect the views of the scholars of a particular country, and also apply to other spheres of the halakhah. It was with this aim that the great halakhic compilation, the Mordekhai of Mordecai b. Hillel, consisting of the rulings and responsa of German and French scholars, was compiled on the Hilkhot ha-Rif. In the manuscripts, however, the Mordekhai appearsas a gloss to the work itself. The Mordekhai was not edited by its compiler and there are different versions and editions. In the 13th century Meir ha-Kohen, Mordecai's colleague and according to some his brother-in-law (both were pupils of Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg), wrote his haggahot, called *Haggahot Maimuniyyot, on the Mishneh Torah. It attempted to add to Maimonides' rulings the opinions and decisions of the scholars of Germany and France, and the views and responsa of Meir of Rothenburg occupy a prominent part of the work. As a result of this amalgamation of halakhic rulings there emerged a work which could serve as an authoritative halakhic code in different centers.

The haggahot of the tosafist *Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil to the Tashbeẓ of Samson b. Zadok was written for a similar purpose. Perez noted the customs and halakhic decisions of his teacher, Meir of Rothenburg, and added the customs and rulings of the French scholars. He also wrote haggahot to the Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Semak) of *Isaac b. Joseph of Corbeil, which are mainly a summation of the views of the early scholars. Because of the succinctness and brevity of the Semak, haggahot were added to it by many scholars from different localities. The best known are the as yet unpublished haggahot of Moses of Zurich (see Urbach, Tosafot, 450). To the comprehensive Piskei ha-Rosh of Asher b. Jehiel, who moved from Germany to Spain at the beginning of the 14th century, was added the Haggahot Asheri of Israel of Krems (14th century). In the main this consists of summarized quotations from the Or Zaru'a of Isaac b. Moses of Vienna and of the rulings of Hezekiah b. Jacob of Magdeburg (13th century) from whom he collected the rulings of Isaac b. Samuel.

The best-known haggahot, which had a decisive influence on the establishment of the halakhah, are those of Moses *Isserles of Cracow to the Shulḥan Arukh. Their purpose was both to supplement the rulings of Joseph Caro, who based himself upon the three posekim, Isaac Alfasi, Maimonides, and Asher b. Jehiel, with the rulings of the scholars of Germany, France, and Poland, and also to note the customs and decisions which were accepted by Ashkenazi Jewry where they differed from those accepted by the Sephardim. The haggahot of Isserles were noted on the margins of the Shulḥan Arukh and are based upon his Darkhei Moshe (Resp. Rema 131:3), and were copied and circularized by his pupils (on Sh. Ar. OḤ, Hilkhot Niddah, Cracow, 1570, on the whole Sh. Ar., ibid., 1578). The notes and source references to the Haggahot ha-Rema were added later by others (first in the Cracow, 1607 edition). Isserles also compiled haggahot to other works such as The Guide of the Perplexed of Maimonides and the Mordekhai. With a similar purpose, Jacob Castro, chief rabbi of Egypt, also wrote haggahot to the Shulḥan Arukh – Erekh Leḥem (Constantinople, 1718) – which reveal many similarities with those of Isserles, but were not widely used.

This category of haggahot had several consequences, both positive and negative. On the one hand, they preserved fragments of large works which have been lost, apparently because of their size and the difficulties of transporting and copying them, or because they were superseded by the codes. On the other hand, it is possible that the abridgments and summaries actually contributed to the original works being forgotten (some were later rediscovered, e.g., the Or Zaru'a, Ravyah, and others).


In the haggahot literature of the second category, those of Solomon b. Jehiel *Luria of Lublin to the Babylonian Talmud are outstanding in their scope and importance. According to his sons, who published them separately under the title Ḥokhmat Shelomo (Cracow, 1581–82), he had no intention of committing his haggahot and comments to book form, but they served him as "notes and a prolegomenon to his major work, the Yam shel Shelomo." These haggahot were written in the margin to the Bomberg edition of the Talmud in which he studied. Although the proofreaders of this publishing house were noted scholars (see above), this edition contains many mistakes and errors. The haggahot were made by comparing the text with sources and parallels, and according to his sons, Luria made use of manuscripts of the Talmud, of Rashi, and of the tosafot in his possession. In the Talmud published at that time in Constantinople by the brothers Yavetz, these haggahot were appended to the various tractates, and sometimes corrections were made according to the haggahot in the body of the work and indicated in the margin. In the later editions they were incorporated into the text and cannot be detected without special investigation (numerous examples are to be found in the Dikdukei Soferim of R.N.N. Rabbinovicz). Luria also wrote haggahot to many other halakhic works. A. Berliner saw his haggahot to Maimonides in the town of Sokol (see Assaf in bibl.).

Also known are the Haggahot ha-Baḥ of Joel *Sirkes of Cracow, which he also inscribed on the margins of the first editions of the Talmud in which he studied. They were first published in Warsaw in 1824 as a separate work and thenceforth in the later editions of the Talmud. Like those of Luria, these haggahot greatly affect the understanding of the text of the Talmud and its commentaries, but in contrast to those haggahot which in many cases were based upon manuscripts, Sirkes' corrections were mainly according to linguistic considerations and internal comparisons within the Talmud itself. Among the outstanding scholars who devoted themselves to haggahot and emendations in this sense was *Elijah the Gaon of Vilna. According to tradition, his corrections and amendments covered the whole range of talmudic, midrashic, and kabbalistic literature. Although he himself published none of his haggahot, some were printed later, but not all have survived in an accurate and original form. Among his published haggahot are some of those on the Babylonian Talmud (in late editions starting Vienna, 1816–26), on the Mekhilta (Vilna, 1844), the order Zera'im of the Jerusalem Talmud (Koenigsberg, 1858), Sifrei (1866), Tosefta (firstly independently and later in the Vilna edition of the Talmud), and the Sifra (1959). Scholars have concerned themselves with the question whether Elijah of Vilna's haggahot are also based upon manuscripts and early versions or are the outcome of his own discretion. With regard to the Tosefta, S. Lieberman (Tosefet Rishonim, 3 (1939), introd.) has established that in essence they are derived from quotations of the text in the works of the rishonim, and apparently those on the Jerusalem Talmud also belong to this category.

In this category of haggahot are works which are less well known but of considerable importance, since through them the original readings of manuscripts and early printed works, from which the haggahot were taken, have been preserved. This phenomenon is especially notable in the works of Sephardi rabbis of recent centuries, who had access to manuscripts which they used frequently. Among them are Haggahot Tummat Yesharim (Venice, 1622) on Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, the Sifra, Alfasi, etc. Many such haggahot are also enshrined in the works of Ḥ.J.D. Azulai, who saw and used more manuscripts and early printed editions than any other author. In his first work, compiled in his youth, the Sha'ar Yosef (Leghorn, 1757) on Horayot, he made extensive use for the first time of the well-known manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud (now Ms. Munich no. 95, issued in photographed facsimile by H.L. Strack in Leiden in 1912), from which he corrected texts of the Talmud. His other works (see Benayahu's lists, p. 185–252) constitute a rich source of knowledge on the nature and existence of manuscripts in talmudic literature and of haggahot from them. This category of haggahot contained in the works of the Oriental scholars, which has scarcely been investigated, contains a considerable amount of material both on texts and contents of the works and is a fruitful field for historical and literary research into the history of talmudic literature.


Y. Kutscher, Ha-Lashon ve-ha-Reka ha-Leshoni shel Megillat Yeshayahu ha-Shelemah mi-Megillot Yam ha-Melaḥ (1959), 462f.; S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950), 20–27, 83–99; idem (ed.), Maimonides, Hilkhot ha-Yerushalmi (1947), introd.; Y. Kafaḥ (ed.), Abraham b. David, Ba'aleiha-Nefesh (1965), introd.; Epstein, Mishnah (1948), 168ff., 201, 352, 424–595, 1269–75, 1284–90; E.S. Rosenthal; in: PAAJR, 31 (1963), 1–71 (Heb. pt.); idem, in: Sefer Ḥ Yalon (1963) 281–337; R.N.N. Rabbinovicz, Ma'amar al Hadpasat ha-Talmud, ed. by A.M. Habermann (1952); M. Kasher, in: Gemara Shelemah, Pesaḥim pt. 1 (1960), introd.; E.M. Lipschuetz, in: Sefer Rashi (1956), 190–3, 236; B. Benedikt, in: KS, 26 (1949/50), 322–38 (on Haggahot of R. Ephraim); S. Kohen, in: Sinai, 9–16 (1941–45), esp. 9 (1941), 265f., 12 (1943), 99–106 (on the Mordekhai); idem, ibid., 11 (1942), 60f. (on Haggahot Maimuniyyot); Urbach, Tosafot, 436f. (on the Mordekhai), 437f. (on Haggahot Maimuniyyot), 439, 453ff. (on Haggahot of Perez of Corbeil), and index 590 S.V. nusḥa'ot: I. Nissim, in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 89–102 (on Haggahot of J. Castro and J. Ẓemaḥ); idem, in: Sinai-Sefer Yovel (1958), 29–39 (on Haggahot of Isserles); A. Sier, Ha-Rema (1957), 59ff. (ditto); S. Assaf, in: L. Ginzberg Jubilee Volume, Heb. pt. (1946), 455–61 (on S. Luria's Ḥokhmat Shelomo); S.K. Mirsky, in: Horeb, 6 (1942), 51–55 (on Joel Sirkes' Bayit Ḥadash); J.H. Levin, Aliyyot Eliyahu (1963), 79ff. (on Haggahot of Elijah of Vilna); K. Kahana, in: Ha-Ma'ayan, 2 no. 1 (1955), 24–41 (ditto); S. Goren, in: J.L. Maimon (ed.), Sefer ha-Gra, 4 (1954), 45–107 (ditto); M. Vogelmann, ibid., 108–10 (ditto); M. Benayahu, Rabbi Ḥ.Y.D. Azulai (Heb., 1959), 81ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E.Z. Melamed in: Tarbiz, 50 (1981), 107–27; Y.S. Spiegel in: Avi'ad (1986), 395–98; Y. Buxbaum, in: Mori'ah, 6:10–11 (1976), 19–25; M.Z. Fuchs in: Sidra, 15 (1999), 111–17; A. Berger in: Zekhor le-Avraham (1992) 83–91; idem, in: ibid. (1993), 118–137; D. Metzger in: Mori'ah 8:8–9 (1979) 14–28; S. Luria in: ibid. (1982) 10–11; S.E. Stern, in: Esh Tamid (1989), 173–177; Y.M. Peles, in: Zekhor Le-Avraham (1990) 19–25; A. Eisenbach in: Zefunot, 2:3 (1991) 22–26; D. Kaminetsky, in: Yeshurun, 4 (1999) 245–254; Z.M. Koren in: ibid. 4 (1999) 43–77; D.Z. Rotstein in: Sefer ha-Zikaron Le-Rabbi Moshe Lipschitz (1996) 355–460; D. Divlitsky in: Zefunot 1:1 (1989), 49–59; idem, in: ibid., 1:2 (1989), 86–87; Y.M. Peles, in: Yeshurun, 9 (2001) 756–767; idem, in: ibid., 13 (2003) 744–87; D. Heiman, in: Mi-Peri ha-Aretz, 4 (1991), 30–63; S.E. Stern, in: Zefunot, 1:3 (1989) 15–20; M. Benayahu, in: Sinai, 100:1 (1987) 135–42; Mori'ah, 9:11–12 (1980), 20–23, 24–27; ibid., 17:11–12 (1991), 17–23; M. Lehman, in: Sinai, 85:1–2 (1979), 42–47; S. Bamberger, in: Ha-Ma'ayan, 24:1 (1984), 57–77; 24:2, 55–64; 24:3, 65–80; 24:4, 85–96, 25:1 (1985), 61–79; A. Mirsky in: Sinai, 102 (1988) 161–82; Y.Z., in: Kiryat Sefer, 52:1 (1977) 173–86; A. Grossman, in: Tarbiz, 60:1 (1993), 67–98; S. Zuker, in: Mori'ah, 20:3–4, 107–18; E. Siegal, in: Alei Sefer, 9 (1981), 130–139; Y. Katan, in: Ha-Ma'ayan, 37:3 (1997), 69–75; Y.H. Frankel in: Ha-Gra u-Beit Midrasho (2003), 29–61; S.Y. Friedman, in: Rashi: Iyyunim li-Yeẓirato (1993),147–5; Y. Avivi, in: Mori'ah, 13:1–2 (1984), 34–37; L. Fogel, in: ibid., 23:6–9 (2000), 50–60; Y. Mondshein, in: ibid., 21:5–6 (1997), 101–103.

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin]

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