||Monograph questioning the authenticity of the Sefer ha-Eshkol (1869) by R. Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne, published by Zevi Benjamin Auerbach, by Shalom Albeck. Albeck raised doubts about the genuineness of at least parts of Auerbach's manuscript, resulting in an ensuing but inconclusive controversy. Auerbach's edition of ha-Eshkol, the first published, based on a manuscript rich in additions, the exact origin of which is not clear, had an introduction and commentary (Nahal Eshkol). The dispute began when, in 1909, Albeck published an "Open Letter" accusing Auerbach of forgery. He maintained that the Old Spanish manuscript on which Auerbach said he based his edition did not exist and that Auerbach, while in Frankfort, had copied from the Carmoly manuscript, but with alterations and additions of his own. Scholars such as J. Schorr, H. Ehrentreu, D. Hoffmann, and A. Berliner wrote Zidkat ha-Zaddik (1910) in defense of Auerbach, to which Albeck wrote Kofer ha-Eshkol in reply. Although there were no grounds for accusing Auerbach of willfully tampering with the manuscript, the version of the Eshkol that Albeck had in hand is undoubtedly the authentic one. Albeck himself published part of the Sefer ha-Eshkol (with introductions and notes) and his son Hanokh Albeck completed this edition (1935–38). The albeck edition shows wide divergencies from the Auerbach edition.
Shalom Albeck (1858–1920) was a talmudic and rabbinic scholar, born and educated in Warsaw. Though he earned his living in business, Albeck gained distinction as an astute scholar. His Mishpehot Soferim (pt. 1, 1903), a biographical encyclopedia of the tannaim and amoraim, only covered a small part of the letter alef. Albeck also began to publish the Even ha-Ezer of R. Eliezer ben Nathan, together with an introduction and commentary (pt. 1, 1904); and the Sefer ha-Eshkol of Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, with an introduction and notes (pt. 1, 1910), completed by his son Hanokh (1935–8). Albeck also planned to publish the Babylonian Talmud with variant readings on the basis of manuscripts and with a modern commentary, but only a specimen was published, Moda'ah Talmud Bavli (1913). A critical study of the writings of R. Judah b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni appeared in Festschrift... Israel Lewy (1911).
R. Zevi Benjamin Auerbach (1808–1872) was a rabbi and rabbinical scholar. He belonged to the first generation of German rabbis with a university education. Zevi Benjamin's first rabbinate was Darmstadt (1831–57), where he preached in High German; selections of his sermons were published in 1834 and 1837. He resigned on account of his disagreement with leaders of the congregation, who wished to introduce Reform, and settled in Frankfort, where he devoted his time to research and writing. In 1863 he became rabbi at Halberstadt. In 1868–69 R. Auerbach published the 12th-century halakhic compendium Sefer ha-Eshkol by Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne with a commentary, Nahal Eshkol. Albeck's own edition of the Sefer ha-Eshkol (1910, completed by his son Hanokh, 1935–38) The alleged Spanish manuscript has never been found. Among Auerbach's other works are Berit Avraham (1880), on the liturgy of circumcision; Mishnat R. Natan (1862, repr. 1962), on Nathan Adler's Seder Zera'im (1862, repr. 1962); Torat Emet (18933), a manual of the Jewish religion; and Ha-Zofeh al-Darkhei ha-Mishnah (1861), a polemic against Z. Frankel's Darkhei ha-Mishnah, whose orthodoxy he questioned together with S.R. Hirsch and G. Fischer (see Hirsch's Jeschurun, 7, 1861).
R. Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne (c. 1110–1179), talmudist and spiritual leader of Provence, was the author of Sefer ha-Eshkol, the first work of codification of the halakhic commentary of southern France. It served as a model for all subsequent compilations. He was av bet din in his native Narbonne, and his prestige was such that he was cited by the early scholars simply as “the Rabbi, Av Bet Din.” R. Benjamin of Tudela speaks of him as “principal of the yeshivah” in Narbonne. Among his renowned students were R. Zerahiah ha-Levi and R. Abraham b. David of Posquieres, who became his son-in-law. Sefer ha-Eshkol is an abridged version of the Sefer ha-Ittim, by R. Judah ben Barzillai al-Bargeloni, with additions from Rashi, R. Tam and his contemporaries, and Abraham himself. As most of the Ittim was lost, the Eshkol took on additional significance, in that it rescued a part, at least, of the extensive source material in the Sefer ha-lttim. Abraham played a vital role as the principal channel through which the Spanish traditions passed into Provence and from there to northern France. At the same time, he emphasized the local traditions of the "Elders of Narbonne,” of which he also made great use. His eclecticism is clear from the fact that he also gave due consideration to north-French halakhic traditions, using his personal authority to decide between the various traditions. Abraham was the recipient of numerous queries.