The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Scientific Dialogue between Salomo Yehuda Leib Rapoport and Leopold Zunz

In the 19th century, the pioneers of the “Wissenschaft des Judentums” (Science of Judaism) started a scientific approach to the study of rabbinical sources including a methodological analysis and classification of the traditional texts. They paid particular attention to the sources of the 11th and 12th centuries. Leopold Lippmann Zunz (1794-1886) and Salomo Yehuda Leib Rapoport (1790-1867), the two founders of the Science of Judaism, studied the Yalkut Shimoni - a monumental midrashic interpretation of each and every book of the Tanakh - in order to identify the author and clarify the time of its origin. In his “Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden” (1832) Zunz argued for the 13th century. Eleven years later, in the Hebrew periodical Kerem Chemed (1843), his friend and colleague Rapoport, who later became the chief rabbi of Prague, voted in favour of the 11th century. In the proposed lecture we will examine the arguments of Zunz and Rapoport on the origin of the Yalkut Shimoni as well as responses to Rapoport´s contribution in contemporary periodicals and private letters. We will offer an explanation, why Zunz in his “Zur Geschichte und Literatur” (1845) changed his view on the subject in favour of Rapoport´s argumentation, whereas most of the scholars did not.

This is a colaborative presentation: one session - two presenter:,