This book brings to light the life and work of Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Theodor (1849-1923), one of the leading experts of Aggadic literature. It highlights Theodor’s pioneering research on the redaction of the Aggadic Midrashim and points to the major developments that happened in this field during the last decades. The book includes a Hebrew translation of Theodor’s articles – “The Composition of the Aggadic Midrashim,” and includes comments, updates and references to contemporary research. Published by the Midrash Institute of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem.
At the beginning of the first chapter Dr. Kadari writes: “Julius Theodor (1849-1923) is one of the leading experts of the Aggadic literature. His major work, a scientific edition of Bereshit Rabbah (completed by Chanoch Albeck), is a foundation of Jewish studies research. His important articles deal with key topics still relevant to Midrashic research even today. Theodors’ research activity did not take place within the walls of academia. He wrote the majority of his scholarly studies in his home in the small town of Bojanowo, located in the Prussian province of Posen, where he served as rabbi for thirty-one years. From his home, he corresponded closely with various researchers but left no disciples to perpetuate his legacy and work after his death. These facts may explain why so little was known about Julius Theodor before I began this research. Aside from an article by Akiva Posner, a short entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia and in Encyclopaedia Judaica, in addition to some concise biographical information that appears in lists of the rabbis of the German Reich, virtually nothing has been written about this leading, significant scholar. The absence of information about his life is also connected to the bitter fate of his small family which suffered great hardships during the two world wars. As far as I was able to verify, probably no direct descendants of Julius Theodor are alive today, so that all the knowledge pertaining to this great scholar has nearly been erased. Even Theodor’s photograph seemed to have disappeared from the pages of history; it did not appear among the photographs of the students of the Breslau Rabbinical Seminary, nor in the few entries and information regarding his town Bojanowo. Only with great effort was I able to obtain it. The information in this chapter was collected and pieced together from small, scattered pieces of information gathered with the gracious assistance of scholars worldwide, through searches in archives, letters that survived, journals and information from the web. May this book be a memorial to this great scholar, his family and the small Jewish community of Bojanowo.”