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Israel Moses Ta-Shma

TA-SHMA, ISRAEL MOSES, (1936–2004), a prominent Israeli scholar of talmudic and rabbinic literature. Ta-Shma was born in Tel Aviv into a Religious Zionist family. He attended the Yeshivat ha-Yishuv he-Ḥadash high school, afterwards studying at the Hebron Yeshivah in Jerusalem. At the age of 21 he received rabbinic ordination and left the yeshivah world to study at the Hebrew University where he received his B.A. and M.A. He received his doctorate from Bar-Ilan University in 1973. He taught at Bar-Ilan in the Talmud Department until 1981 when he was hired to teach at Hebrew University and to be the director of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library on the Givat Ram campus, Jerusalem. At the same time, Ta-Shma was the academic secretary of Mekiẓe Nirdamim, the 200-year-old organization that publishes Jewish scholarship from manuscript. Throughout his academic career, Ta-Shma used manuscripts as the basis of his work. He was one of the first modern scholars to do so, thus forging new paths in Jewish academic research. Beginning in 1963, for 18 years, Ta-Shma was one of the editors of the Hebrew Encyclopedia. In 1984 he founded the journal, Alei Sefer, at Bar-Ilan University. He was the journal's editor for ten years. In 1991, he received tenure from Hebrew University and retired from teaching in 1999. In 2002 he received the Bialik Prize. In 2003, he received both the Prime Minister's EMET Prize and the prestigious Israel Prize for his work in Talmud.

Along with over 150 articles and numerous collections that he co-edited with others, Ta-Shma wrote a number of important works including Rabbi Zeraḥya Ha-Levi: Ba'al ha-Ma'or u-Venei Ḥugo, based on his Ph.D. dissertation (1992); Halakhah, Minhag u-Meẓi'ut be-Ashkenaz 10001350 (1996); Minhag Ashkenaz ha-Kadum: Ḥeker ve-Iyyun (1999); Ha-Sifrut ha-Parshanit le-Talmud be-Eiropa u-vi-Ẓefon Afrika: Korot, Ishim ve-ShitotḤelek Alef 10001200 (1999); Ha-Sifrut ha-Parshanit le-Talmud be-Eiropa u-vi-Ẓefon Africa: Korot, Ishim ve-ShitotḤelek Bet 12001400 (2000); Ha-Niglah she-be-Nistar: Le-Ḥeker Sheki'ei ha-Halakhah be-Sefer ha-Zohar (expanded edition, 2001); Rabbi Moshe ha-Darshan ve-ha-Sifrut ha-Ḥiẓonit (2001); Ha-Tefillah ha-Ashkenazit ha-Kedumah: Perakim be-Ofyah u-ve-Toldoteha (2003); and a collection of his articles edited by Y. Hovav, Knesset Meḥkarim: Iyyunim be-Sifrut ha-Rabbanim bi-Yemei ha-Beinayim (2004). It is interesting to note that his first publication was a religious song book for IDF soldiers (1960) issued by the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF.

The judges of the 2003 Israel Prize said, "Ta-Shma was graced with very broad knowledge in all aspects of Talmudic and rabbinic literature both in print and in manuscript, brilliant ability and a sharp intuition for creating an integration between various and different fields of knowledge, and a voluminous output of research."

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