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Bachrach, Jacob ben Moses

BACHRACH, JACOB BEN MOSES (also called Ba'al ha-Ma'amarim or Jacob ha-Bachri; 1824–1896), rabbi and grammarian. Bachrach, a descendant of Jair *Bacharach, was born in Sejny in the district of Suwalki; he studied with his grandfather Judah *Bachrach. In addition to being an accomplished talmudist he was versed in secular knowledge. For many years he was superintendent of the Hebrew department of a printing establishment in Koenigsberg. In 1858 he published in that press his Maẓref ha-Avodah, which deals with the controversy over Ḥasidism between Benjamin Wolf of Slonim, a disciple of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman the Gaon of Vilna, and Joseph of Nemirov, a disciple of *Levi Isaac of Berdichev. Later editions of this book carry the title Vikkuḥa Rabbah ("Great Debate"). In 1858 he also published the Sefer Yuḥasin of Abraham *Zacuto with corrections and comments. Between 1861 and 1864 he published Jacob b. Asher's Turim with his own annotations. From Koenigsberg he moved to Sebastopol. There, while managing a refinery, he began to take an interest in the literature of the *Karaites and engage in polemics with them. In 1893 his book Me-ha-Ibbur u-Minyan ha-Shanim ("Concerning Intercalation and the Calendar") appeared in Warsaw. In it he attempted to prove the antiquity of the Hebrew *calendar, in opposition to the Karaite theory on one side and to the opinion of Ḥ.Z. Slonimsky on the other side. From there he moved to Bialystok, where he played an important role in founding the Ḥovevei Zion movement and was sent to Ereẓ Israel in 1882. His findings during his visit there are contained in his Sefer ha-Massa le-Ereẓ Yisrael (Warsaw, 1884), one of the earliest propaganda books of the Ḥovevei Zion. For a short time, he was also private secretary to Samuel *Mohilever. Bachrach also engaged in scientific study of the Hebrew language. Among other things, he tried to prove the antiquity of the Hebrew vowels and accents, in opposition to the opinion of Elijah *Levita who had held that these were not introduced until after the conclusion of the Talmud. These studies appeared in Sefer ha-Yaḥas li-Khetav Ashuri ve-Toledot ha-Nekuddot ve-ha-Te'amim ("History of the Assyrian Script, Vowels, and Accents," Warsaw, 1854) and Hishtaddelut im Shadal ("Engagement with Samuel David Luzzatto," Warsaw, 1897), a kind of extension to his earlier work. Despite the great acumen shown in his works, they did not meet with the general approval of the scholars of his time.


E. Atlas, in: Ha-Asif, 1 (1884), 246ff.; S. Wiener, Kohelet Moshe (1893–1918), nos. 3311, 4521, 4723; Lu'aḥAḥi'asaf, 5 (1898), 326; EZD, 1 (1958), 291–3; Kressel, Leksikon, 1 (1965), 241–2.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.