||An examination into and elucidation of the Targumim and Midrashim by R. Zevi Hirsch ben Meir Chajes with annotations by R. Jacob Bruell. There are facing Hebrew and German title pages, a word to the reader from Jacob ben Michael [Bruell], a brief preface by R. Chajes, and the text, comprised of Iggeret Bikkoret at the top of the page and below the extensive and comprehensive glosses of R. Bruell, entitled Misgeret. This is the second edition of Iggeret Bikkoret but the first with R. Bruell’s annotations.
R. Zevi Hirsch ben Meir Chajes (1805-55) was a rabbinic scholar. Chajes was born in Brody, Galicia, where he studied Talmud and rabbinics under R. Ephraim Zalman Margulies and other prominent rabbis. His father was a highly educated banker who resided for fifteen years in Florence before settling in Brody. The boy was taught French, German, and Italian by his father, and also instructed in secular subjects such as natural sciences, history, and Latin. He mastered the two Talmuds and their commentaries when he was still very young, and at the same time became familiar with medieval Jewish philosophic literature. Ordained at the age of 22, he was elected to the rabbinate of the important community of Zolkiew. Here he formed an intimate friendship with the philosopher Naḥman Krochmal , a resident of the town. Krochmal exerted an influence on Chajes' extraordinary knowledge which was reflected in his subsequent writings. Chajes devoted his efforts to introducing modern critical methods in talmudic and cognate studies, de-emphasizing pilpul , but without sacrificing Orthodox principles. He corresponded with the leading maskilim of Galicia and Italy, such as S.J. Rapoport , S.D. Luzzatto , and I.S. Reggio , although their relations were sometimes marred by scholarly disputes. He was the only rabbi of the old school who voluntarily submitted to a university examination (required by the Austrian law of 1845), as a result of which he earned a doctorate. Chajes supported plans for agricultural schools for Galician youth. He was a vigorous champion of a more modern approach to Jewish education. In 1852 he was elected chief rabbi of Kalish (Kalisz), Poland, but could not withstand the opposition of the ḥasidic and anti-Haskalah elements in that community. Being an Austrian subject, he also encountered hostility from the Russian authorities, and he left Kalish to return to Zolkiew shortly before his death. Despite his leanings toward Haskalah and secular studies, he was a staunch defender of Orthodoxy. Chajes opposed the Reform Rabbinical Conference of Brunswick (1844) in a monograph entitled Minḥat Kena'ot (1849). The following were also among his published works: (1) Torat Nevi'im (or Elleh ha-Mitzvot, Zolkiew, 1836), a study of talmudic tradition and methodology; (2) Iggeret Bikkoret (Przemysl, 1840), on the Targumim and Midrashim (republished by J. Bruell with annotations and additions, 1853; abbreviated German translation in Literaturblatt des Orients, suppl. to Orient, 1 (1840) nos. 44–8; 2 (1841), nos. 3 and 9); (3) Ateret Ẓevi (Zolkiew, 1841), six essays on talmudic and midrashic topics, including a new enlarged edition of Iggeret Bikkoret mentioned above; "Tiferet le-Moshe," a defense of Maimonides against S.D. Luzzatto; and "Darkhei Moshe," on Maimonides' method in Mishneh Torah (repr. with annotations in: J.L. Fishman, ed., Rabbenu Moshe ben Maimon, part 2, 1935, 1–74; and in an edition of Maimonides Mishneh Torah, 1956); (4) Darkhei Hora'ah (Zolkiew, 1842), an examination of talmudic rules for deciding religious legal questions; (5) Mevo ha-Talmud (ibid., 1845; R. Margulies, ed., 1928; English translation by J. Shachter, Student's Guide through the Talmud, with introduction and notes, 19602), perhaps his most important work; and (6) She'elot u-Teshuvot Maharaẓ (3 vols., ibid., 1849–50) in three parts: "She'elot u-Teshuvot," responsa; "Imrei Binah," six treatises on varied subjects; and "Minḥat Kena'ot." Chajes' annotations to the Talmud appeared first in the Vienna Talmud edition of 1840–43, and later in the standard Vilna editions published by the Romm family. Chajes, Krochmal, and Rapoport formed the triumvirate of the important critical Galician school. Chajes' works are the first attempts of a modern Orthodox scholar to investigate the nature and authority of tradition. Solomon Buber described him as "one of the rare Gaonim of his age, versed in all the chambers of the Torah and unequaled as a research worker." All subsequent researchers have benefited from his work, although he has not always been acknowledged.
R. Jacob Bruell (1812–1889) was a talmudic scholar. Born in Neu-Raussnitz, Moravia, he was ordained by his father-in-law Nehemiah Trebitsch . From 1843 until his death, he served as rabbi in Kojetin . Among his disciples were his sons Adolf and Nehemiah Bruell , and David Kaufmann , all of whom became renowned Jewish scholars. Bruell developed his own distinctive, scientific, critical approach. His first scholarly work was an annotated and revised edition of R. Ẓevi Hirsch Chajes ' Iggeret Bikkoret on the Targums and Midrashim (1853). His own "addition, corrections, and criticism," were R. Jacob Bruell. The influence of Zunz's Gottesdienstliche Vortraege is noticeable in Bruell's critical notes. His Doresh le-Ẓiyyun ("Interpreter of Signs," Ger. Die Mnemotechnik des Talmuds, 1864) deals with the mnemotechnical signs in the Babylonian Talmud. Bruell's largest and most important work is his Mevo ha-Mishnah ("Introduction to the Mishnah," 2 vols., 1876–85). The first volume deals with the biographies and methods of sages from the time of Ezra to the end of the mishnaic period, and the second, with the method used by Judah ha-Nasi in the arrangement and editing of the Mishnah. Bruell's last work was Ben Zekunim (studies in talmudic literature, 1889). He also contributed extensively to the periodicals Ben Chananja (ed. by L. Loew) and Beit Talmud (ed. by I.H. Weiss).