ḤIDDUSHIM (Heb. חִדּוּשִׁים, "novellae"), the results of a method of study of rabbinical literature which derives new ideas from talmudic and also rabbinic texts, in order to clarify halakhah. The ḥiddushim represent the "obligation imposed upon us to search through the subjects of the Torah and the precepts and bring to light their hidden contents" (*Naḥmanides, introduction to Sefer ha-Milḥamot). From the commentary, whose purpose is to explain the text – its difficult terms and other complexities – the student goes on to a thorough analysis and summary of the theme, the establishment of its basis, and the general principles to be deduced from it. On the one hand, however, it is not always possible to draw a clear line of demarcation between commentaries and ḥiddushim, while on the other many works belong to the category of ḥiddushim from the point of view of their contents and methods though they are not referred to as such.
The changes in conditions of life in the course of time give rise to questions and problems which require an authoritative solution in the spirit of the laws of the Torah. The geonim were already required to explain the Talmud in this light and base their decisions upon it. Their comments on various talmudic topics, either by defining the framework of a given halakhah or by indicating the conditions necessary for the application of a certain halakhah, are actually ḥiddushim on those halakhot, which at times display considerable originality. This phenomenon is especially noticeable in the *responsa literature, whose authors were required to give a practical decision in answer to questions which arose during their time. The ḥiddushim scattered in the responsa literature are very numerous, even if they are not always apparent on the surface, and they sometimes constitute a completely new approach to the relevant passage in the Gemara. During the succeeding era, when new Torah centers came into existence, another category of ḥiddushim was developed. The most famous of these centers are the Spanish, connected with the name of *Alfasi, and the Franco-German, of which Rashi and the *tosafists are the most distinguished representatives. Each of these centers developed its particular system: the tendency of the Spanish school was toward summarization and methodical presentation, in order finally to arrive at the halakhah, and was less concerned with abstract discussions and theoretical detail; the French school, on the other hand, applied itself to the minutest details of talmudic text, without aiming at any methodical arrangement, though this was arrived at indirectly as a result of their remarkable mastery of the vast material.
The most outstanding among the first authors of novellae are Joseph *Ibn Migash, the disciple of Alfasi and the first to write novellae to tractates of the Talmud, which are distinguished by their profundity and had a decisive influence on Maimonides; *Abraham b. David of Posquières, author of novellae to several of the talmudic tractates combining commentary and novellae – his glosses to Alfasi and Maimonides include ḥiddushim on talmudic themes which served as an inexhaustible source for subsequent authors; and Meir b. Todros *Abulafia, whose opinions are at times outstandingly original. During the time of Naḥmanides and his pupil R. Solomon b. Abraham *Adret, the teachings of the French school reached the Spanish schools. As a result of their influence the method of study in this country underwent a change and the synthesis thereby created became known in the world of talmudic scholarship as the teachings of the great *rishonim. They include Naḥmanides, Solomon b. Abraham Adret, *Yom Tov b. Abraham Ishbili, *Nissim b. Reuben Gerondi, Joseph ibn *Ḥabiba, the author of Nimmukei Yosef on Alfasi; and others. The method in the schools of these rishonim was to study Gemara with Rashi's commentary and the tosafists, comparing their views with those of Alfasi and Maimonides. This system resulted in many objections to the decisions of Alfasi and Maimonides, since the conclusions arrived at by Rashi and
The novellae of the aḥaronim are of a different character. Generally they tend to verbosity and are inclined toward casuistry. Among the most eminent of them one can also recognize the desire to arrive at new halakhic decisions. There is an attempt to shed light on the subjects under discussion by the introduction of the "hypothesis," i.e., an attempt to decide what the halakhah would be in a given case which is not explicitly mentioned in the Gemara.
A different category of novellae was created by the school of the tosafists and their successors who encouraged and developed the study of the Torah for its own sake without placing overmuch emphasis on legal decisions and conclusions. Their extensive knowledge of the Talmud enabled them to embrace various tractates and different subjects at one and the same time. The study of a subject was thus not confined to the actual text but included corresponding and parallel subjects and everything even remotely connected with it throughout the Talmud. This comparative study revealed numerous contradictions and problems. The solution of these difficulties gave rise to novellae, either by establishing limits to one topic, or by sharp distinctions between two subjects which at first sight appear to be identical. In later generations this category of novellae became widespread. The wide range of knowledge and the profundity of their authors opened the door to a system of the most ingenious novellae. The most distinguished of the aḥaronim, such as Ezekiel *Landau (author of Noda bi-Yhudah) and Akiva *Eger, posed a multiplicity of difficulties based on their vast knowledge and profound erudition. Their answers abound in brilliant innovations, many of which were accepted as binding in the practical halakhah. In the wake of the great authors, the tendency became widespread among all talmudic scholars, including yeshivah students. The revelation of new aspects in talmudic topics became the norm. In yeshivot, special encouragement is given to anyone who reveals this talent, and opportunity is given to him to expound his ideas before his colleagues. Ḥiddushim have become an integral part of the normal study of the Talmud.
Among important authors of novellae on the Talmud from the Middle Ages to the present day may be mentioned: 13th CENTURY: *Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi (Ravyah); *Isaac b. Abba Mari, *Isaac b. Moses of Vienna, Samuel B. Isaac ha-Sardi, author of Sefer ha-Terumot; *Isaiah di Trani; *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg (Maharam), whose novellae are included in his responsa and halakhic decisions; *Aaron b. Joseph ha-Levi. 14th–15th CENTURIES: Nissim Gerondi; Joseph *Colon; *David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra; Joseph b. David ibn *Lev. 16th-17th CENTURIES: Bezalel *Ashkenazi, author of Shitah Mekubbeẓet, an extensive collection of novellae of various authorities; Solomon *Luria (Maharshal), author of Yamshel Shelomo; *Meir b. Gedaliah of Lublin and Meir (Maharam) *Schiff, who gave a tremendous impetus to the study of the Talmud in Poland; Samuel Eliezer *Edels, who, in addition to his Ḥiddushei Halakhot, noted for their great profundity and erudition, also wrote Ḥiddushei Aggadot. IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 18th CENTURY: Meir Eisenstadt, author of Panim Me'irot; R. Jacob Joshua Falk, author of Penei Yehoshu'a. IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 18th CENTURY: Jonathan *Eybeschuetz; Aryeh Leib *Gunzberg, author of Sha'agat Aryeh, Turei Even, and Gevurat Ari; Ezekiel Landau in his Ẓiyyun le-Nefesh Ḥayyah. 19th CENTURY: Akiva Eger in his Derush ve-Ḥiddush; Moses *Sofer; Jacob *Ettlinger in his Arukh la-Ner; Isaac Meir *Alter of Gur, author of Ḥiddushei ha-Rim; Ẓevi Hirsch *Chajes. 20th CENTURY: during the present century the literature of novellae is principally concentrated around the decisions of Maimonides and investigation into their sources. The most important personalities and their works include: *Meir Simḥah ha-Kohen of Dvinsk in his Or Same'aḥ; R. Ḥayyim ha-Levi *Soloveichik, the initiator of a new method of study in the Lithuanian yeshivot during recent generations; R. Joseph *Rosen ("The Rogachover") in his Ẓafenat Pa'ne'aḥ; R. Ḥayyim Ozer *Grodzinski in his Aḥi'ezer; R. Abraham Isaac *Kook; R. Isser Zalman *Meltzer; R. Abraham Isaiah *Karelitz, the "Ḥazon Ish."
Jellinek, in: Bikkurim, I (1864), 1–26; 2 (1865), 1–19; B.Z. Katz, Rabbanut, Ḥasidut, Haskalah, I (1956), 71, 85, 106, 108,
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.