JPL Logo JPL Presents

Science

Jakob Ben Samuel. Omek halachah.

Krakow : Isaac ben Aaron Prossnitz, 1598.

Jacob ben Samuel Bunim Koppelman, 1555-1594.

Koppelman was born in Brisk (Poland). A highly-regarded Talmudic scholar, he eventually traveled to Frankfurt to found a Yeshiva, though the plague forced him to leave in 1582. His considerable knowledge of ancient and modern astronomy, mathematics, botany, engineering and geography, served him well in writing Omek, a clarification of difficult Talmudic tractates.

Originally published in Cracow in 1593, Omek primarily elucidated religious laws (halachah) discussed in the Kilayim tractate, that prohibit crossbreeding seeds, animals, and mixing wool and linen. It also used diagrams and models to explore the Eruvin tractate’s focus on the halachah of enclosures that allow persons to carry items in certain areas during Shabbat.  Koppelman also wrote about numerous Talmudic scientific references, including weights and measures, and included his drawings of the Temple site.  He also discussed Maimonides’ “Hilkhot kidush ha-hodesh” (Sanctification of the New Month), an astronomical treatise.

Koppelman was also widely known as the translator of Berechiah ha-Nakdan's Mishlei Shualim (“Fox Fables”) into Yiddish.