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Haggahot Maimuniyyot

HAGGAHOT MAIMUNIYYOT, a comprehensive halakhic work which is one of the most important sources for the halakhic rulings of the scholars of Germany and France. The author, Meir ha-Kohen of Rothenburg (end of the 13th century), was the distinguished pupil of *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg. He compiled it as a supplement and notes (see *Haggahot) to the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, and its first part was published in the Constantinople edition of the Mishneh Torah (1509), and has appeared in all subsequent editions. Of it, Levi ibn Ḥabib writes (Responsa, ed. Lemberg No. 130): "If the author of the Haggahot is a small man in your eyes, he is great in the eyes of all Israel." It may originally have been written on the margins of the Mishneh Torah, as it appears in early manuscripts, and as seems to be the case from the passages to which the words "written in the margin" are appended. Of the 14 books of the Mishneh Torah, the only books to which there are no Haggahot are Hafla'ah, Zera'im (save for a fragment at its end), Avodah, Korbanot, and Tohorah. The chief aim of the author was to attach the rulings of the scholars of Germany and France to the work of Maimonides, whose decisions and conclusions are in the main based upon the traditions and rulings of the scholars of Spain. This aim was the result of the great preoccupation with Maimonides' work in the school of Meir of Rothenburg (who also compiled works connected with Maimonides – see Urbach, 434ff.), as well as the need felt to adapt the work of Maimonides, which was spreading more and more as a comprehensive halakhic work, for use also in Germany and France.

The work is divided into two sections, one of glosses and notes attached to the Mishneh Torah, and the other – also called Teshuvot Maimuniyyot (first published in the Venice ed. of 1524) – appended at the end of each book of the Mishneh Torah and containing responsa by German and French scholars relevant to the topics dealt with in the body of the work. It is difficult to determine whether this division is the work of the author himself or was the work of a later editor, although it is early and already appears in early manuscripts of the work. This division is not absolute, however, and in the section of glosses one can still find responsa which, apparently in view of their brevity and direct connection with the halakhah under discussion, were not given separately (for examples see Urbach, 436 n. 20). On the other hand, the section of responsa contains non-responsa material (ibid., n. 21).

There are differences between the editions of 1509 and 1524, some of which are material. The wording of the glosses in the Venice edition (from which the later editions were printed) is more original and the author generally speaks in the first person, while the wording of the 1509 edition shows signs of being a later version, and has obviously passed through adaptation and abbreviation at the hands of a later editor. In many places in the 1509 edition the passages end with the words: "thus far the language of R.M.K." (= R. Meir ha-Kohen); the editor even comments on the words of Meir ha-Kohen (see Hilkhot Zekhiyyah u-Mattanah 11:19; "however may the All-Merciful pardon Meir ha-Kohen…"). Certain passages appear in the Constantinople version which are absent from the Venice version, and vice versa. The Constantinople edition contains additions that may have been added by the editor, most of them taken from the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (Semag) of Moses of Coucy, the Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Semak) of Isaac of Corbeil, the Sefer ha-Terumah of Baruch b. Samuel of Mainz, the Ha-Roke'aḥ of Eleazar of Worms, the Seder Olam of Simḥah of Speyer, etc.

From Urbach's comparison of the two editions there can be no doubt about the identification of Meir ha-Kohen as the author of the glosses, nor is there any reason to assume that other authors participated in it, as was assumed by S. Cohen and J. Wellesz. The close connection between the sections of the book is also beyond doubt, and there is no need to assume that Meir ha-Kohen made use of a preexisting collection of responsa. The section of glosses (Venice edition) contains references in many places to the section of responsa (see the list in Wellesz, p. 52, to which many additions can be made). It is difficult to determine whether these references are the author's own or the editor's. They do not, however, seem to replace responsa included in the glosses of the original work, which when taken out were left as mere references (see, e.g., the Haggahot Sheluḥin ve-Shutafin, 5 no. 6). The section of responsa is on the books Nashim (37 items), Kedushah (27), Hafla'ah (7), Nezikin (22), Kinyan (40), Mishpatim (71), and Shofetim (20), and contains a valuable collection of the responsa of the author's teacher Meir of Rothenburg, which in some cases gives a reading of greater value than other sources, while others are unknown from any other source. Also cited in it are responsa by Jacob Tam, Isaac b. Samuel ha-Zaken, Samson of Sens (copied from the Nimmukim of his pupil Jacob of Courson, who collected them into a book – see Resp. to Ma'akhalot Asurot, no. 13), and his brother Isaac b. Abraham, Simḥah b. Samuel of Speyer, Baruch b. Samuel of Mainz, etc.

No biographical details of Meir ha-Kohen are known other than that he was the pupil of Meir of Rothenburg; Mordecai b. Hillel ha-Kohen was his colleague and, according to some, his brother-in-law and colleague (Ishut 9, no. 1); and he lived in Rothenburg (Responsa to Shofetim, no. 16, where the reading should be "here Rothenburg" and not "in it, in Rothenburg"; see Sefer ha-Parnas (1891), no. 269). He attended upon his teacher when the latter was imprisoned in Wasserburg (Shab. 6 n. 6) and later in the fortress of Ensisheim (to Tefillah 14:5, according to the Constantinople ed.), and there discussed halakhic matters with him. His teacher sent halakhic responsa to him (Sefer Torah 7 n. 7; Tefillah 15 n. 1; Ishut 3 n. 15). In one responsum (Resp. Maharam of Rothenburg, ed. Prague, no. 78) he addressed him thus: "the lips of the priest preserve decisive Torah opinion [cf. Mal. 2:7], my intimate associate R. Meir ha-Kohen."

The supplements and variants of the Constantinople edition, which is now rare, were published in the El ha-Mekorot edition of the Mishneh Torah (1954–56), and in the Po'alei Agudat Israel edition (1944) to the books Madda through Nashim. A substantial number of manuscripts are known (in Jerusalem, Oxford, British Museum, Cambridge, Sassoon, and other libraries), but they have not yet been investigated and examined. The attempt of Allony to fix the date of the writing of the Cambridge manuscript (13.1) of the Mishneh Torah as 1230 instead of 1170 is a mistake, for he did not notice that it contains the Haggahot Maimuniyyot. I.Z. Kahana, who began to issue a critical edition of the rulings and responsa of Meir of Rothenburg (vols. 1–3, 1957–63), drew a great deal from the Haggahot Maimuniyyot, utilizing four manuscripts of the work.


Azulai, 2 (1852), 33 no. 23; Weiss, Dor, 5 (19044), 77f.; S. Kohen, in: Sinai, 10 (1942), 10; Wellesz, in: Ha-Goren, 7 (1908), 35–59; N. Allony, in: Aresheth, 3 (1961), 410; Urbach, Tosafot, 434–6. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Divlitsky, in: Zefunot, 1:1 (1989), 49–59; Y.M. Peles, in: Yeshurun, 13 (2003), 744–87.

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