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David Kaufmann

KAUFMANN, DAVID (1852–1899), Austrian scholar. Kaufmann was born in Kojetein, Moravia, and received his first instruction in Talmud from Jakob *Bruell. From 1867 to 1877 he attended the rabbinical seminary in Breslau and also studied at the university there. In 1874 he received his doctorate at Leipzig, for a dissertation concerning Sa'adiah's philosophy of religion, which he subsequently published as a part of his Attributenlehre (1877; repr. 1967, 1982). He began teaching Jewish history, religious philosophy, and homiletics at the new rabbinical seminary in Budapest, where he remained until his death.

Kaufmann was a scholar of unusually wide and thorough knowledge and produced an astonishingly large number of works in his short life – almost 30 books and over 500 smaller essays and book reviews. His work was distinguished also for its literary style. A complete bibliography was compiled by M. Brann, in Gedenkbuch zur Erinnerung an David Kaufmann (ed. M. Brann and F. Rosenthal, 1900; repr. 1980). Though Kaufmann dealt with every area of Jewish scholarship, he contributed especially to history, medieval Jewish philosophy, history of religion, and the history of Jewish art. His most important works are: "Die Theologie des Bachia Ibn Pakuda" (in Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1874); Geschichte der Attributenlehre in der juedischen Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters von Sa'adja bis Maimuni (1877; repr. 1967, 1982), Kaufmann's major work; Jehuda Halevy. Versuch einer Charakteristik (1877); and Die Spuren al-Batlajusi's in der juedischen Religionsphilosophie (in Jahresbericht der Landes-Rabbinerschule in Budapest, 3, 1880; also in Hungarian; repr. 1967). Kaufmann's comprehensive schooling in the natural sciences and philology is attested by his study Die Sinne; Beitraege zur Geschichte der Physiologie und Psychologie im Mittelalter aus hebraeischen und arabischen Quellen (ibid., 7, 1884; repr. 1972, 1980). To the last year of his life belongs his Studien ueber Salomon Ibn Gabirol (1899; repr. 1972, 1980).

His historical and genealogical monographs include Samson Wertheimer, der Oberhoffaktor und Landesrabbiner 16581724 und seine Kinder (1888), Urkundliches aus dem Leben Samson Wertheimers (1891), and R. Jair Chajjim Bacharach (16381702) und seine Ahnen (1894). Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien und Niederoesterreich, ihre Vorgeschichte (1625 bis 1670) und ihre Opfer (1889), and Die Erstuermung Ofens und ihre Vorgeschichte nach dem Berichte Isaak Schulhofs (16501732) (1895), together with Megillat Ofen, deal with the history of the Jews in the Austrian and Hungarian capitals. The history of the Italian Jews is dealt with, among others, in Dr. Israel Conegliano und seine Verdienste um die Republik Venedig bis nach dem Frieden von Carlowitz (1895) and Die Chronik des Achimaaz von Oria (1896). David Kaufmann edited the autobiography (zikhronot) of Glueckel von Hameln in its original Yiddish version (1896), which is considered one of the most valuable sources for the history of the Jews in Early Modern Times. In the last years of his life, Kaufmann turned to investigations in the history of Jewish art, in which field he was a pioneer. He co-founded the Gesellschaft fuer Sammlung und Konservierung von Kunst- und historischen Denkmaelern des Judentums in Wien.

Kaufmann took an active stand against attacks on the Jewish community and the Jewish religion. To this category of writings belong Paul de Lagarde's juedische Gelehrsamkeit; eine Erwiderung (1887), in which Kaufmann indicates Lagarde's gross errors in the field of Jewish studies, and particularly rejects the derogatory manner in which this German Orientalist had spoken of the accomplishments of Zunz and other Jewish scholars, and Ein Wort im Vertrauen an Herrn Hofprediger Stoecker (1880). On the other hand, Kaufmann wrote an enthusiastic review of Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, in which the concept of national Judaism is extolled (in MGWJ, 26, 1877) In association with M. Brann, Kaufmann published the new series of the Monatsschrift fuer Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums (1892–99) and cooperated on this and many other Jewish scholarly and Oriental publications. M. Brann published a selection of Kaufmann's essays and shorter writings in three volumes, David Kaufmann, Gesammelte Schriften (1908–15; repr. 1980). A collection of his essays appeared in Hebrew translation, Meḥkarim ba-Sifrut ha-Ivrit shel Yemei ha-Beinayim (1962). Kaufmann's rich library (cataloged by M. Weisz, 1906), which contained many valuable manuscripts, incunabula, and genizah fragments, is now owned by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (see Microcard Catalogue of the Rare Hebrew Codices… in the Kaufmann Collection (1959), with an introduction by Ignaz *Goldziher).


F. Rosenthal, in: M. Brann and F. Rosenthal (eds.), Gedenkbuch… David Kaufmann (1900), i–lxxxvii, biography and bibl.; M. Klein, ibid., 667–74; M. Brann, in: D. Kaufmann, Gesammelte Schriften (1908), ix–xii; S. Krauss, David Kaufmann (Ger., 1901); R. Brainin, in: Sefer ha-Shanah, 1 (1900), 186–96; S.A. Horodezky, in: Ha-Goren, 2 (1900), 119–20; D.H. Mueller, in: JJGL, 3 (1900), 196–206; Jahresbericht der Landes-Rabbinerschule in Budapest, 22 (1899); Révai Nagy Lexikona, 11 (1914), 365; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 456; A. Scheiber, The Kaufmann Haggadah (1957); S. Loewinger and A. Scheiber (eds.), Genizah Publications in Memory of Prof. Dr. David Kaufmann, 1 (1949), Eng. and Heb. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Carmilly-Weinberger (ed.), The Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest 18771977 (1986), Eng. and Heb.

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