(1909- ), Indian motion picture actor. Born in Bombay of a Bene Israel family, he used David as his professional name. Though trained in law, he took up acting in 1937 and subsequently appeared in over 100 Hindustani films, becoming widely known for his comedy roles. He toured the U.S. in 1952 as member of the Indian Film Delegation. Also active in the Indian Olympic Association, he was weight-lifting referee at the Olympic Games, Helsinki, 1952, and Fourth Maccabiah, Israel, 1953.


(1904-1988), British musicologist. Abraham was born in Newport, Isle of Wight. Although largely self-taught in the field, he became a highly respected authority on Russian music, learning Russian and Slavonic languages in the course of his work; he published three books devoted to Russian music. He also wrote A Hundred Years of Music (1938) and Chopin’s Musical Style (1939), a small, serious scholarly work. He was employed by the bbc in various capacities, including assistant controller of music during 1935-47 and 1962-67.

Abraham was the first professor of music at Liverpool University, teaching there from 1947 to 1962, exposing his students to Russian music on an academic level. He was president of the Royal Music Association from 1969 to 1974, becoming a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the latter year.

Among his publications were a collection of his essays, Slavonic and Romantic Music (1968), and the Concise Oxford History of Music (1979), in which the broad range of his interests was fully displayed. He edited monographs or symposia on Schubert, Schumann, Sibelius, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and others, as well as the New Oxford History of Music (1955-86); he also served as chairman of the editorial board of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.


(1877-1925), German psychoanalyst. Born in Bremen to religious parents, Abraham was Germany’s first psychoanalyst and a major figure in both the organizational and scientific development of psychoanalysis. Abraham received his early clinical experience at a mental hospital in Dalldorf. He became acquainted with Freud’s work through Bleuler and Jung in Zurich, and first met Freud in 1907. A deep friendship and professional alliance bound the two men until Abraham’s death. Abraham’s work covered almost every field of psychoanalysis, but his most significant contributions through pioneering studies were in the fields of libidinal development, character formation, the psychoses, and addiction. He investigated the effects of infantile sexuality and family relationships on the child’s mental development, and drew a correlation between characteristic mental disorders and the problems at different stages of the child’s mental development. Toward the end of his life, Abraham concentrated almost exclusively on manic-depressive psychosis, where he paralleled and deepened Freud’s work. This work is written up in his paper of 1911 translated in 1927 as "Notes on the Psychoanalytic Investigation and Treatment of Manic-Depressive Insanity and Allied Conditions." Abraham related melancholia to regression to the oral level and to the loss of love and its patterning after mourning. Schizophrenia, too, is a regression from a traumatic situation to an early infantile level of development. Abraham was president of the Berlin Psychoanalytical Society from its founding until his death. He was also secretary (1922-24), and then president (1924-25), of the International Psychoanalytical Association. Most of his research work appears in his Clinical Papers and Essays on Psychoanalysis (1955) and his published correspondence with Freud in A Psychoanalytic Dialogue (1965).


(1875-1922), German theoretical electro-physicist. Born in Danzig, Abraham was an assistant to the physicist Max Planck. He worked in turn at Goettingen (1900), Cambridge (England), and in the U.S. In 1909 he became professor of mechanics in Milan, but in 1915 was expelled as an enemy alien. He then served in the German army. In 1919 he was appointed professor of physics at the Technische Hoch-schule Stuttgart. Abraham studied the dynamics of electrons, and his two-volume Theorie der Elektrizitaet went through eight editions between 1904 and 1930.


In addition to the Apocalypse of Abraham, extant in Slavonic, and the Testament of Abraham, preserved in a number of versions, there are several references in the literature of the first centuries of this era to works attributed to Abraham. Among the apocryphal works included in the early Christian lists attributed to Pseudo-Atha-nasius and Nicephorus, there is a book entitled Abraham. Its length is given as 300 stichoi. Similar, unclear references may be found in Apostolic Constitution 6:16 and elsewhere. More significant is Epiphanius’ account (Adversus Haereses 38:5) of the Sethian Gnostic sect as "composing certain books in the name of great men. of Abraham, which they say to be an apocalypse and is full of all sorts of wickedness." Origen refers to a book relating a contest between good and evil angels over the salvation or perdition of Abraham’s soul (Homilies on Lk. 35). It has been suggested that this incident may be related to the weighing of the soul, whose good and evil deeds are of equal measure, as described in Testamentum Abraham (a, 12f.). Yet, it must be noted that these two stories are far from identical, and Origen is probably drawing on a different Abraham book. An Arabic Life of Abraham is mentioned by James (Apoc. Anecd. 2, 81). Armenian works called The Story of Abraham, Isaac and Mambres, The Ten Temptations of Abraham, History of Abraham, Memorial of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and others exist in manuscripts (e.g., Erevan 569, 717, 1425 et al.), but have never been studied.


(1872-1926), ethnomusicologist. Born in Berlin, Abraham graduated in medicine at Berlin University in 1894 and thereafter dedicated himself to psychoacous-tics and the physiology of music. From 1896 to 1905 he was assistant to Carl Stumpf (1868-1936) at the Berlin Institute of Psychology, and collaborated with E.M. von *Hornbos-tel in the establishment of the "Phonogrammarchiv" in 1900 which is known for its unique historical collections of music of the world. Abraham’s work on tone perception was one of the pioneer studies in the psychology of music. His studies, mostly with Hornbostel, on the non-Western musical traditions and his suggested methods for transcribing this music put him among the founders of modern systematic ethno-musicology. Abraham introduced the first German attempt to record non-Western music. He recorded on wax cylinders a visiting Siamese court orchestra, music from South Africa and Japan, Armenian and Muslim songs, and Indian and Amerindian music. Between 1903 and 1906, Abraham and Horn-bostel published important studies based on their tonometric measurements and transcriptions of those recorded examples. Among his articles are "Wahrnehmung kurzester Tone und Gerausche" (1898), "Studien Ueber das Tonsystem und die Musik der Japaner" (1902-3), "Phonographierte Tuerkische Melodien" (1904), "Phonographierte Indianermelodien aus Britisch-Colombia" (1906), "Zur Akustik des Knalles" (1919), and "Zur Psychologie der Tondistanz" (1926).


(d. 1792), merchant in Cochin. Abraham, who was probably of Polish birth, arrived in Cochin in about 1757 and served both the Dutch and English East India Companies. Abraham chiefly traded in timber for shipbuilding and to a lesser extent in paper, rice, pepper, and iron. He advanced large loans to the Dutch and English companies. With other leading Jewish merchants, he was entrusted with confidential diplomatic missions by the Dutch governor. His house was a meeting place for local princes, dignitaries, and merchants. Abraham established the first known contact between the Jews of Cochin and those of the Western Hemisphere with a Hebrew letter to the Jewish congregation of New York (c. 1790). It was accompanied by an outline history of the Jews in Malabar.


Apocryphal story of the death of Abraham. It is preserved in two Greek versions, the longer one being the more original. There are also Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Romanian versions. The book is part of an extensive literature of testaments and, in addition to the Testament of Abraham, there exist Testaments of Adam, Isaac, Jacob, the Twelve Patriarchs (sons of Jacob), Job, etc. The dependence of the book upon Jewish aggadic sources and the absence of Christian motifs with the exception of a possible influence of New Testament phraseology upon the actual wording show that the Testament of Abraham was composed by a Jew, writing in Greek, and was possibly based on a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original. The exact date of its composition is unknown. The book utilizes both Midrashim about Abraham and the aggadah about the death of Moses (see Assumption of *Moses). Thus, the reluctance of Abraham to accept his death from the hand of the archangel Michael is founded upon the narrative of Moses’ death in Jewish sources. Finally Abraham is prepared to accept God’s decision, if the angel will show him the whole universe. This wish is fulfilled and the author includes in his book interesting apocalyptic material.

The heavenly judge is Abel, the son of Adam, because Go wants humanity to be judged by a man (see *Son of Man At the end, Abraham is killed by deception on the part of th Angel of Death.


(17641836), talmudic scholar in Lithuania. Abraham, who was known as Abele Poswoler, was a pupil of Solomon of Wilkomir. In his youth he became rabbi in Poswol (near Kovno) and in 1802 was appointed head of the Vilna bet din, a position which he held for 30 years.When the Jewry of Erez Israel was in financial straits in 1822, Abraham appealed to the wealthy Jews of Poland and Lithuania to aid the yishuv but the appeal was of limited success. Abraham did not publish many responsa and talmudic novellae, but some were preserved in the works of his contemporaries. Of particular interest is the fact that Abraham, although a devout Jew, gave his approbation to the Te’udah be-Yisrael by Isaac Baer Levinsohn, one of the leading Russian maskilim.

His novellae and responsa appeared in a book called Beer Abraham from a manuscript with the Beer ba-Sadeh commentary by Rabbi Shmuel David Movshowitz (Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem, 1980). The book contains a commentary on tractate Berakhot, novellae and halakhic rulings (from different books), and 112 responsa on different subjects in the four parts of the Shulhan Arukh.


(1700-1769), German rabbi and halakhist. He was also called Abraham Abusch Lissa and also Abusch Frankfurter, from the towns Lissa and Frankfurt where he served as rabbi, after having been rabbi of Mezhirech. After the interregnum brought about by the departure of Jacob Joshua *Falk, the community of Frankfurt approached him to become its rabbi. The community of Lissa was reluctant to part with him and only did so after much persuasion on the part of the communal leaders of Frankfurt. His pious and meek disposition and the stories of his charitable deeds became legendary. The name of Abraham Abusch is associated with a cause celebre, "the *Cleves get" (divorce; see *Lipschuetz, Israel). Although several renowned rabbis approved the divorce Abraham persisted in his opinion that it was invalid. The members of his community supported him by enacting a regulation barring from the Frankfurt rabbinate anyone who had approved the divorce. For some time, he also held the important position of parnas or president of the "^Councils of the Lands." Although he was renowned as a talmudic scholar, few of his writings have survived. Several of his works appeared under the title Birkat Avraham: (1) novellae on five tractates of Seder Moed (1881); (2) commentary on the Passover Haggadah (1887), with a supplement, Mahazeh Avraham (1908); (3) a volume also known as Kaneh Avraham (1884), kabbalistic commentary on Genesis; (4) a commentary on Berakhot (1930); and (5) on Ruth (1934). He also wrote Darkhei ha-Hayyim, on remedies, medicines, and charms (1912). His ethical will was also published (1806).


(c. 1644-1709), Augus-tinian friar and anti-Jewish propagandist; court preacher in Vienna from 1677. His numerous sermons and tracts violently attacked the Jews along the traditional lines of popular anti-Jewish hatemongering. He charged the Jews with causing the plague by witchcraft, denounced them along with the devil as Christianity’s worst enemy, and gave currency to the *host desecration libel. The coarse language and style of his sermons and tracts influenced the Viennese brand of *antisemi-tism (and its disseminators such as S. *Brunner, J. *Deckert, and K. *Lueger) and of ^National Socialism.


(Hayya; d. c. 1136), Spanish philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and translator. Little is known about Abraham’s life apart from the fact that he lived in Barcelona. Two titles by which he was known provide clues to his public activity. One was Savasorda, a corruption of the Arabic sahib-al-shurta, originally meaning "captain of the bodyguard," but by Abraham’s time denoting a functionary whose duties were both judiciary and civil, the exact scope of which can only be surmised. A court position was not unique for a Jew in Christian Spain at that time, and Abraham would have been useful for his mathematical and astronomical knowledge, his skill in surveying, and his linguistic abilities (he states in his writings that from his early youth he "gained honor before princes and royalty"). The other title, nasi, was not uncommon in Spanish Jewry and although in this instance also the exact significance is undetermined, it appears to denote an office within the Jewish community exercising a judiciary function with the power of imposing punishments and regulating communal taxation.

The only incident known from his life is a clash with his distinguished contemporary in Barcelona, *Judah b. Barzil-lai al-Bargeloni. This occurred at a wedding which Abraham insisted on postponing because the stars were not propitious, whereas Judah wished to proceed with the ceremony as he held astrological beliefs to be "a custom of the Chaldeans." At some period of his life Abraham visited France – perhaps Provence – which at that time was ruled by the count of Barcelona. It appears that this visit was connected with the problems of land surveying.

The dates and places of his birth and death are unknown. A manuscript dated 1136 refers to him as "of blessed memory" but this could be a later interpolation. However, Plato of Tivoli, who cites him as a collaborator in his translations up to 1136, does not mention Abraham in connection with a translation in 1138. As there is no evidence of his having lived subsequently, it has been assumed that he died c. 1136.


Concentrating on cosmogony, Abraham held that all things were first created in potentiality where they could be divided into matter, form, and not-being. In order to actualize them, God removed the not-being and joined form to matter. Matter is divided into pure matter and the dregs of matter, while form is divided into closed form and open form. The first stage in the process of creation is the emanation of a light from the closed form. This closed form is too pure to combine with matter and is identified with the form of angels, souls, etc. The light shines on the open form, qualifying it to combine with matter; one part of the open form combines with the pure matter and from this juncture the firmaments are created; the other part joins the dregs, thereby creating the four elements and the beings of the corporeal world. A further emanation of light over the firmament causes that form already attached to matter to change its place – and this brings about the creation of the moving stars; while a further emanation of light touches that matter which can change its form, and from this are formed all that fly, swim, and go. Man is the summit of creation, distinguished by his rational faculty. He has free will and can choose between the right way and sinning; if he sins, he still has the possibility of repentance. The way to repentance is always open, but the reward of eternal life is only for the God-fearing and God-acknowledging. All aspects of this world are transient and the important consideration is the world to come. The saintly individual lives an ascetic life in this world in order to be rewarded in the next. By observing the Torah, Israel obtains the reward of the world to come. Just as time had a beginning, so it must have an end and this will usher in the era of salvation when the wicked will be destroyed and only Israel and any others who accept the Torah will survive. Only Israel will be resurrected – the righteous to eternal life, the wicked to eternal justice.

Although points of similarity with other medieval thinkers are frequently discernible in Abraham’s philosophical work, his writings contain an original admixture of Neopla-tonic, Aristotelian, and rabbinic ideas, with original interpretations. He was sufficiently independent to reject philosophical for rabbinical theories when he deemed necessary, and his philosophy falls into no ready-made categories. He was one of the very first to write on scientific and philosophic subjects in Hebrew and many of the terms coined by him have passed into accepted Hebrew usage. His Hebrew is simple and lucid, similar in style to the later Midrashim.

Mathematical Works

Abraham was the author of the first encyclopedic work in Hebrew, Yesodei ha-Tevunah u-Migdal ha-Emunah ("Foundations of Understanding and Tower of Faith"). This was probably based on translations from the Arabic (it was published by Steinschneider in Hebraetsche Bibliographie, vol. 7, Sp. tr. by J.M. Millas Vallicrosa, 1952). Only sections have been preserved and these deal with geometry, arithmetic, optics, and music. He also wrote about mathematics in his Hibbur ha-Meshihah ve-ha-Tishboret ("Treatise on Mensuration and Calculation"; Sp. tr. by J.M. Millas Vallicrosa, 1931), the original object of which was to help French Jews in the measurement of their fields. This is the first Hebrew work to show that the area of a circle is nr2 and is the first known work – after an Egyptian papyrus of the 18th century B.c.E. – to give the formula of a truncated pyramid. It was published by M. Gutt-mann (2 pts., 1912-13). Plato of Tivoli translated the work into Latin in 1145 as Liber Embadorum ("The Book of Areas") and this introduced Arabic trigonometry to the West. It was the chief source for the writings of the celebrated mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa.

Astronomical Works

Abraham’s main astronomical work, known as Hlokhmat ha-Hizzayon, consisted of two parts. The first part, Zurat ha-Arez ve-Tavnit Kaddurei ha-Rakia ("Form of the Earth and Figure of the Celestial Spheres"), is a geography – "a short review of lands according to the seven climates" – which long remained the chief source of geographical knowledge among Jews (it was published by M. Jaffe and Jonathan b. Joseph in Offenbach, 1720; Sp. tr. by J.M. Millas Vallicrosa, 1956). The second part, Heshbon Mahalekhot ha-Kokhavim ("Calculation of the Courses of the Stars"; with Sp. tr. by J.M. Millas Vallicrosa, 1959), was often quoted; it incorporates a complete section on intercalation. The whole work is probably the first exposition of the Ptolemaic system in Hebrew and was the first complete textbook on astronomy in that language.

Abraham further considered problems of intercalation in his Sefer (or Sod) ha-Ibbur ("Book of Intercalation"), which was written in 1122 "to enable the Jews to observe the festivals on the correct dates." This work explains the principles of intercalation and shows how to calculate the Hebrew and Arabic years (publ. by H. Filipowski, London, 1851). It was often quoted by later authorities and was accepted as authoritative.

Mention should also be made of the astronomical and astrological tables compiled by Abraham which were also often quoted, although never published. They include reckonings for year-cycles, the New Moon, the Egyptian, Arabic, Roman, and Alexandrian years, etc.

Astrology and Eschatology

Another of Abraham’s smaller compositions was his letter to Judah b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni, defending astrology in connection with the above-mentioned incident at the Barcelona wedding (publ. by Z. Schwarz, 1917). However, the main source of knowledge of Abraham’s astrological views is to be found in Megillat ha-Megalleh ("Scroll of the Revealer"; publ. by A. Posnanski, 1924; Sp. tr. by J.M. Millas Vallicrosa, 1929). This is an eschatological book, the first by a European rabbi, written with the object of determining the end of time. After working out a correspondence between the seven days of Creation with seven eras of world history, Abraham came to the conclusion that redemption would come to the world in the year 1383 c.E. and resurrection in 1448. He adduces proofs from both the Bible and astrology. This work was of considerable influence, for example, on *Judah Halevi, whose theory of the transmission of the prophetic spirit derives from it, and on the kabbalists, particularly those of the German school. Most of *Abrabanel’s astrological knowledge was derived from this work, parts of which were translated into Latin and French.

Knowledge of Abraham’s philosophy is partly derived from this work but even more from his Hegyon ha-Nefesh ha-Azuvah (publ. by E. Freimann, Leipzig, 1860; Eng. tr. by G. Wigoder, "Meditation of the Sad Soul," 1969). This deals with creation, repentance, good and evil, and the saintly life. The emphasis is ethical, the approach is generally homiletical -based on the exposition of biblical passages – and it may have been designed for reading during the Ten Days of Penitence. It is less frequently quoted than Abraham’s other works. A so-called "lost work" called Geder Adam is probably identical with Hegyon ha-Nefesh. Apart from his original compositions, Abraham collaborated in several of the translations made by Plato of Tivoli from Arabic to Latin. These played an important role in the transmission of Arabic scientific knowledge to Europe. There is also a translation of De Horarum Electioni-bus, a work on algebra by Ali ibn Ahmad al-Imrani made by Abraham; it is not known whether he did this on his own or in collaboration with Plato of Tivoli.


(c. 1669-1730), convert to Judaism who worked as a copper engraver in Amsterdam. Born in Germany, Abraham b. Jacob had been a Christian pastor in the Rhineland before converting to Judaism. He was particularly celebrated for his collaboration in the Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695 to which he contributed a series of engravings partly copied from the Icones Biblicae of Mattheus Merian of Basle and a map of Palestine with Hebrew lettering. This work set a new fashion in Haggadot and served as a model for more than 200 years. Abraham b. Jacob’s other works include the title pages to Joseph b. Ephraim *Caro’s Shulh an Arukh (1697-98), Isaiah b. Abraham *Horowitz’s Shenei Luhot ha-Berit (1698), and Joseph b. Hayyim Sarfati’s Yad Yosef (1700); an amulet for women in childbirth; and a wall calendar for 130 years with baroque illustrations. The engraving of a portrait of h akham Isaac *Aboab da Fonseca of Amsterdam, painted by Joseph b. Abraham, is also ascribed to him.


(Kalisz; 1741-1810), hasidic leader in Poland and Erez Israel. He was a disciple of *Dov Baer of Mezhirech. According to hasidic tradition he first studied under *Elijah b. Solomon, the Gaon of Vilna. He joined the Talk, an h asidic conventicle whose precise nature is unknown. Abraham gave expression to the hasidic principle of serving God with fervor in a bizarre fashion, "turning somersaults in the streets and marketplaces" and ridiculing talmudic scholars. These exaggerated practices were among the reasons for the excommunication pronounced on the H asidim by the rabbinical court of Vilna in 1772.

In 1777 Abraham immigrated to Erez Israel with the group of H asidim led by *Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk. He first settled in Safed and later in Tiberias, where he spent his last years. After the death of Menahem Mendel, Abraham succeeded him as head of the hasidic groups in Erez Israel. His cordial relations with the founder of the H abad movement, *Shneur Zalman, came to an end after the latter published his


(13th century), kabbalist. A disciple of R. *Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, he immigrated to Spain where he probably studied with the kabbalist R. Ezra. Solomon b. Abraham *Adret knew him personally in his youth, and tells of his extraordinary oratorical gifts, and the interesting material in his sermons (Responsa no. 548). Abraham wrote a treatise concerning the Tetragrammaton, Keter Shem Tov, in which he tried to achieve a synthesis between the mysticism of the Jewish pietists (H asidim) in Germany based on combinations of letters and numbers, and the Kabbalah of the *Sefirot (with which he had become acquainted in Provence or in Spain). His text is composed of a short summary of his system and represents a kind of cosmological symbolism that relies on the conclusion provided by Abraham *Ibn Ezra in his Sefer ha-Shem, as well as on the statements of the kabbalists R. Ezra and R. Azriel. The work, which is extant in numerous manuscripts, was first published independently in Amsterdam in 1810. It also appeared under the title Maamar Peloni Almoni in the collection of writings Likkutim me-Rav Hai Gaon (1798). A new edition was published by Jellinek (1853). In Samson b. Eliezer’s work Barukh she-Amar (1795), Keter Shem Tov is attributed to Menahem Ashkenazi, another disciple of Eleazar of Worms. Benjacob is wrong in stating that there is another work entitled Keter Shem Tov by Abraham consisting of a mystic commentary to Psalms, Joshua, and Judges.

In one of the manuscripts found in Jerusalem, Keter Shem Tov is entitled Ma’amar be-Kabbalah Nevu’it, a "Treatise on Prophetic Kabbalah," and this title indicates the role played by this Ashkenazi figure in transmitting certain Ashkenazi modes of thought to Barcelona, where Abraham *Abulafia’s prophetic Kabbalah made its first step.

Tanya in 1796; Abraham expressed his disillusionment with Shneur Zalman’s philosophical system, and Shneur Zalman, who was also treasurer of the fund in Russia, retaliated by stopping the flow of contributions. Abraham emphasized the importance of the hasidic group, independent of the authority of a zaddik. He believed in dibbuk haverim, a close association between comrades who through contemplation and self-abnegation arrive together at a state of mystical ecstasy. His sayings and letters are collected in HLesed le-Avraham (1851) and lggerot Kodesh (1927).


(d. 1542), rabbi and author. For 20 years, Abraham served as the rabbi of Prague. One of his pupils was Abraham Jaffe, the father of Mordecai *Jaffe. In 1534 Abraham and the famous shtadlan Joseph (Josel-mann) of Rosheim framed 23 takkanot designed to adjudicate an inter-communal dispute in Bohemia and to restore harmony in the community. After the expulsion of the Jews from Bohemia in 1541, Abraham composed the selihah beginning "Anna Elohei Avraham," recited in the Polish ritual on Yom Kippur. According to David *Gans, Abraham had a knowledge of "all the seven sciences." His works included (1) glosses on the Tur Orah Hayyim by Jacob b. Asher, published in Prague and Augsburg both in 1540; (2) a supercommen-tary on Rashi’s Bible commentary, quoted in the Devek Tov of Simeon Ossenburg, and in Minh at Yehudah by Judah Leib b. Obadiah Eilenburg (1609); (3) decisions, quoted by Moses Isserles and Joel Sirkes.


(13th century), liturgical commentator, one of the "Elders of Bohemia." Abraham was a disciple of the great German pietists, *Judah b. Samuel he-H asid and *Eleazar b. Judah of Worms (Rokeah) as well as of *Baruch b. Isaac of Regensburg, the latter two being his chief teachers. *Isaac b. Moses Or Zaru’a was his disciple. About 1234 he wrote Arugat ha-Bosem ("Spice Garden"), a commentary on liturgical poems (edited by E.E. Urbach with commentary, 1939). The work reveals a comprehensive knowledge of every branch of Jewish learning: masoretic text and vocalization, exegesis and grammar, the halakhic and aggadic Midrashim, the two Talmuds and their early expositors, and philosophical and kabbalistic literature. All obscure references in the piyyutim are explained in great detail. As a result of its prolixity, the book did not have a wide circulation and is only rarely quoted in later literature. However, after Abraham *Berliner discovered the manuscript in the Vatican library, scholars realized its importance. Abraham’s main sources are: Abraham Ibn Ezra, Eleazar Rokeah, Judah H ayyuj, Judah b. Samuel he-H asid, Joseph Kara, Jacob Tam, Moses of Taku, Rashi, Solomon Parh on, Samuel b. Meir, Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome, and Maimonides. He was the first of the French and German scholars to make full use of the whole of Maimonides’ work. The quotations in the book give an insight into the nature and character of many books no longer extant, by authorities such as Samuel b. Meir and Eleazar Rokeah (who is mentioned by name more than 170 times) and by scholars whose names were previously unknown. Abraham was known for his critical insight and independence and did not hesitate to contradict his teacher, Eleazar Rokeah. His quotations from the halakhic and agga-dic literature, the Tosefta, and the Babylonian and Palestinian

Talmuds are valuable, for there are many differences between his texts and those appearing in the printed editions.


(d. 1700), Lithuanian author and preacher. After the decree of expulsion from Lithuania in 1655 Abraham went to Vienna, where he became a pupil of R. Shabbetai Sheftel *Horowitz. After the expulsion of the Jews from Vienna in 1670 Abraham returned to Brest Litovsk and continued his studies under R. Morde-cai Guenzburg and R. Z evi Hirsch. At the end of his preface to Zera Avraham he described his tribulations: "Most of my days were spent in sorrow, and I studied under difficulties and in wandering." He mentions his intention "to immigrate to the Holy Land" which, however, he did not fulfill. He signed himself "Alluf Abraham" as one of the representatives of Brest Litovsk at the meeting of the *Council of the Lands in Lublin in 1683. Abraham is the author of Asarah Maamarot, a commentary on Avot,which includes sermons on "the connection between the weekly portions, and other verses, Midrashim and commentaries according to a literal interpretation" (Sulzbach, 1685); and Perush al Eser Atarot – a kabbalistic work (Frankfurt on the Oder, 1968). In the preface to Asarah Maamarot he refers to his unpublished works Berit Avraham (a brief summary of the decisions of Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen and *David b. Samuel ha-Levi on Yoreh De’ah) and Hesed Avraham, a kabbalistic commentary on the weekly scriptural portions.


(1511-1578), Italian rabbi and poet. Abraham, who was born in Modena, was employed as tutor by Jewish families in various Italian cities from 1530. Later, he became rabbi and preacher in Ferrara. He composed numerous religious and liturgical poems. According to his statement these numbered more than 5,000. Some poems deal with autobiographical occasions; others celebrate historical events (e.g., the false accusation against the Jews in Rome, 1555). Several are dedicated to his family and friends, or written as prayers for them. The poems which include elegies and *azharot are almost all written in Hebrew, a few, in Aramaic. In 1553 he collected his liturgical and religious poems under the title, Sefer ha-Yashar. Later he prepared a second, larger collection in two volumes, now lost, entitled Sefer ha-Yalkut (this might, however, be the title of another work of his). A third collection (unless it is part of Sefer ha-Yalkut) is in the Montefiore Collection.


(c. 1246-c. 1316), nagid of Egyptian Jewry. Abraham was the eldest son of R. David, the grandson of Maimonides. During his father’s old age he shared the position of nagid with him for ten years. After his father’s death he remained nagid and was successful in 1313 in convincing a large group of Karaites, among whom were some wealthy men and intellectuals, to return to Rab-banite Judaism.


(known as Rabad, i.e., Rabbi Abraham Ben David; c. 1125-1198); talmudic authority in Provence. Abraham was born in Narbonne, and died in Posquieres, a small city near Nimes famous for the yeshivah he established there. He lived during a remarkable period of remarkable development of intellectual activity in southern France. His father-in-law, Abraham b. Isaac, who headed the rabbinical court in Narbonne, exerted considerable influence on Abraham ben David, whose brilliance he fully appreciated. Abraham studied with Moses b. Joseph and *Meshullam b. Jacob of Lunel, two of the most respected and influential scholars of the time. Meshullam encouraged the methodical transmission of the philosophic, scientific, and halakhic learning of Spanish Jews to French Jewry, and his influence on Abraham in this respect was great. It also seems safe to assume that the enlightened atmosphere of his circle widened the scope of Abraham’s learning so that he developed into a keen and resourceful halakhist, undisputed master in his own field, and highly knowledgeable in developments in related areas (philosophy and philology). He encouraged Judah ibn Tibbon, who had translated the first topic of Bahya ibn Paquda’s Hovot ha-Levavot at the request of Meshullam of Lunel, to complete the translation. Meshullam stimulated Abraham’s literary creativity by having him compose a treatise (Issur Mashehu, in: S. Assaf, Sifran shel Rishonim (Jerusalem, 1935, 185-98; M. Hershler, Jerusalem, 1963)) on an important problem of Jewish ritual law.

A mature scholar, prominent in Montpellier and Nimes, and a man of great wealth (it has been suggested that he dealt in textiles), he settled permanently in Posquieres, except for a short period (1172-73) when he fled to Narbonne and Carcassonne as a result of hostility on the part of the local feudal lord. He founded and directed a school to which advanced students from all parts of Europe flocked and he provided for all the needs of indigent students out of his own pocket. Some of his students and close followers, "Abraham b. Nathan ha-Yarhi, Isaac ha-Kohen, *Meir b. Isaac, "Jonathan b. David ha-Kohen of Lunel, Asher b. Saul of Lunel, and his own son "Isaac the Blind (of Posquieres) became distinguished rabbis and authors in the principal Jewish communities of Provence, thus extending Abraham’s influence and contributing to significant literary developments at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries. He himself asserted that his word was law in all Provence (Temim De’im (Lvov, 1812), 12a-b, no. 113). Scholars from Franco-Germany, Spain, North Africa, Italy, Palestine, and Slavic countries knew, studied, and respected him. "Nahmanides describes his erudition and piety with great awe and Solomon b. Abraham *Adret says that Abraham revealed unfathomed depths of the law "as if from the mouth of Moses, and explained that which is difficult" (Torat ha-Bayit, Beit ha-Nashim, introduction).

Rabad’s literary activity was original and many sided. His works may be classified under the headings of codes of rabbinic law, commentaries on various types of talmudic literature, responsa, homiletic discourses, and critical annotations and glosses (hassagot) on standard works of rabbinic literature. His writings are characterized by precision in textual study, persistence in tracing statements back to their original source, discovery of later interpolations, and logical analysis of problems. He was one of the most skillful practitioners of the crit-ico-conceptual method of talmudic study – probing into the inner strata of talmudic logic, defining fundamental concepts, and formulating disparities as well as similarities among various passages in the light of conceptual analysis. As a result, abstract, complex concepts, which were discussed fragmentarily in numerous, unrelated sections of the Talmud, are for the first time defined with great vigor and precision. This critical methodology was the first clean break from the geonic method of Talmud study. By doing so, Rabad approached each rabbinic subject unaided by the wisdom of the previous generations. On the one hand, he viewed each subject as part of the greater talmudic whole; yet on the other hand, he only commented on what interested him. Thus, his commentaries may be described as annotatory rather than cursory, that is, closer to the tosafistic method of textual elucidation and analysis than the method of complete, terse textual commentary associated with Rashi or R. Hananel. Many of his theories and insights were endorsed and transmitted by subsequent generations of talmudists and incorporated into standard works of Jewish law up to the Shulh an Arukh and its later commentaries. Indeed, his talmudic commentaries had an enormous impact on the next generation of talmudic scholars, notably "Nahmanides and his disciple, Solomon ben Abraham *Adret. Even though they continued to quote him frequently, the scholarship and reputation of these and other scholars of the succeeding generations overshadowed Rabad’s work. Rabad’s talmudic commentaries firmly established his position among Jewish scholars. With the first publication of Rabad’s hassagot alongside Maimonides’ text of the Mishneh Torah in the early 16th century, Rabad’s reputation shifted from that of commentator on the Talmud to commentator on the Mishneh Torah.

Some medieval writers, notably H asdai Crescas (Or Ado-nai, introduction) assert that Abraham wrote a commentary on the entire Talmud and Menahem b. Solomon *Meiri described him as "one of the greatest of the commentators" (Beit ha-Behirah, passim). Only sections of this imposing undertaking have been preserved and only two complete commentaries on Bava Kamma (Kaidan, 1940; Jerusalem, 19632) and Avodah Zarah (New York, 1960) have been published; sizable extracts are to be found in the Shitah Mekubbezet of Bezalel Ashkenazi and citations from it are quoted in the writings of the rishonim. His commentary and tosafot to the first two topics of Kiddushin have been published by Wacholder, in: huca 37 (1966), Heb. sect. 65-90.

The most important of his codes, which included Hilkhot Lulav, Hibbur Harshaot (on power of attorney), and Perush Yadayim, is the Baalei ha-Nefesh (first edition Venice, 1602). A complete and better edition was published by Y. Kafah (1964). In seven, close-knit topics, Abraham formulated and discussed in great detail the laws relating to women. The last topic of the work entitled Shaar ha-Kedushah ("the gate of holiness") describes the moral norms and pious dispositions which enable man to achieve self-control in sexual matters and to attain purity of heart and action. The common denominator of all his codes is their preoccupation with practical matters, unlike Maimonides, whose theoretical concept of codification necessitated the inclusion of all laws, even those of no practical value. Abraham’s codes are predicated on exposition and commentary and provide complete source references.

Abraham wrote commentaries on the Mishnah, which had gradually become subservient to and assimilated in the Talmud as a unit of study, with the result that as late as the 12th century, commentaries on the Mishnah were rare and fragmentary. Abraham’s full-fledged commentaries on Eduyyot and Kinnim (both published in the standard editions of the Talmud), two abstruse, academic treatises, were original and also very influential. (The commentary on Tamid, ascribed to Abraham, is not his.) At the beginning of the Eduyyot commentary he himself declared: "In all these matters I have nothing to fall back upon, neither a rabbi nor a teacher. I beseech the Creator to guide me correctly in this matter." Unlike Maimonides, who strove to distill the quintessence from intricate discussions, in order to render the Mishnah an independent subject of study, Abraham was interested primarily in interpreting those obscure sections of the Mishnah which had no further explanation in the Talmud, passing over those passages satisfactorily explained in the Talmud, merely giving cross references.

His commentaries on the tannaitic Midrashim are of special historic importance, because he was probably the first medieval scholar (but see *Hillel b. Eliakim of Greece) to have written exhaustive commentaries on these texts. While his commentaries on the Mekhilta and Sifrei are quoted, only the commentary on Sifra is extant (first edition Constantinople, 1523; scientifically edited by I.H. Weiss, Vienna, 1862). The commentary, which pays considerable attention to the nature and method of the Sifra and, therefore, to problems of talmu-dic hermeneutics, begins with an emphatic prologue on the necessity of tradition "in order to harass the opinions of the heretics (minim) who refuse to obey and believe"

The hassagot, critical scholia, with which his name is inextricably linked, were his last works. He composed copious hassagot on the halakhot of Alfasi, on the Sefer ha-Maor of *Zerahiah b. Isaac ha-Levi, and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides. As the Hebrew term hassagah denotes, these glosses are both criticism and commentary, dissent and elaboration, stricture and supplement; they are not exclusively polemical, although the polemical emphasis varies in intensity and acuity from one to the other. The critique on Alfasi is mild and objective; that on Maimonides may be described as moderate, marred by occasional outbursts of intemperate invective; while that on Zerahiah ha-Levi is caustic and personal. Abraham began by reviewing Alfasi and taking exception to some of his halakhic interpretations and normative conclusions. In answer to his criticisms Nahmanides wrote his Sefer ha-Zekhut. When the Sefer ha-Maor appeared, Abraham felt that Zerahiah ha-Levi had carried the criticism of Alfasi to unjustified lengths and that often Zerahiah was captious and carping for no good reason. Anticipating the more comprehensive refutation of Nahmanides in Milhamot, Abraham penned a sharp answer to the strictures of Zerahiah. He accused him, inter alia, of plagiarism, amateurishness, excessive reliance on Rashi and the French school, and general incompetence. The book, called Katuv Sham, was published in full for the first time in Jerusalem (1960-2). Extracts from it had been published previously in the Romm edition of the Talmud, and elsewhere. This work climaxes a lifetime process of mutual criticism and attack – the acrimonious exchange in Divrei ha-Rivot and Zerahiah’s criticism of Abraham’s Ba’alei ha-Nefesh and Kinnim commentary (Sela ha-Mahaloket, latest edition, ed. Kafah, 1964). Abraham’s critique of Maimonides, written in cryptic and in a style often difficult to understand, became a standard companion of Maimonides’ text (from the Constantinople edition, 1509). These hassagot are highly personal and unsystematic. Rabad does not comment on every aspect of each section of the entire Mishneh Torah. However, his glosses are very wide ranging, containing every conceivable form of annotation: criticism concerning interpretive matters, textual problems, local customs and the like, and many forms of commentary, listing the source, reconstructing Maimonides’ explanation of a text, showing the derivative process followed by Maimonides in the formulation of a law, warding off possible criticism, and the like. Abraham claimed that Maimonides "intended to improve but did not improve, for he forsook the way of all authors and his cut and dried codification, without explanations and without references, approximated ex cathedra legislation too closely." Rabad’s hassagot are not limited to points of law; he was quick to take Maimonides to task for his philosophical opinions as well. For instance, contrary to Maimonides’ assertion that God is incorporeal and that to think of God as having a body makes one a heretic, Rabad claims that there "were many who were greater and better than him who followed this path due to what they saw in verses, and even more due to rabbinic homilies that confuse the mind" (see Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 3:7). Later generations did not view this statement as disagreeing with Maimonides, but as recognition of the need to think of God in anthropomorphic terms.

Abraham wrote many responsa, some of them printed in Tummat Yesharim (Venice, 1622). A more complete compendium was issued by Y. Kafah (1964). He wrote a few homilies, as testified by many rishonim, but only his homily on Rosh Ha-Shanah has been printed (London, 1955).

One type of literature, the kabbalistic, which came into prominence during his lifetime, is not represented in his writings. It is known, however, that he exerted formative influence upon it through his children, who, having learned mystical teachings from him, became literary leaders and guides in the emergent Kabbalah. Later kabbalistic writers such as Isaac of Acre, Shem Tov b. Gaon, and Menahem Recanati claimed Abraham as one of their own, worthy of receiving special revelation.


(known as ha-Malakh ("the Angel"); 1741-1776), hasidic sage. A contemporary who watched Abraham on the Ninth of *Av bewail the destruction of the Temple, remarked: "Then I understood that it was not in vain that he was named by all ‘the Angel,’ for no man born of woman could have such power." A solitary ascetic who mainly concentrated on study of Kabbalah, Abraham did not emulate the tradition of popular aspects of H asidism instituted by the Ba’al Shem Tov and by his father, considering them "too earthly." His ideal of the *zaddik was directly opposed to the usual type of such hasidic leaders, being "one who is incapable of leading his contemporaries, one whom they would not tolerate because he is immersed in learning and unable to descend ‘to the lowest grade’ in order to lift up his generation." In his youth Abraham was a friend of "Shneur Zalman of Lyady with whom he studied Talmud and Kabbalah in Mezhirech. He was the author of a commentary on the Pentateuch Hesed le-Avraham (Czernowitz, 1851). His son, Shalom Shraga (1766-1803) of Prohobist, was the father of Israel of *Ruzhyn (Ryshyn), the first of the Ruzhyn dynasty.


(called ha-Zaken; c. 1460-after 1528), kabbalist. Born in Spain, Abraham was a pupil of Isaac Gakon (in Toledo?). While still in Spain he wrote several kabbalistic treatises of which his Masoret ha-Hokhmah ("Tradition of Wisdom"), on the principles of the Kabbalah, has been preserved (ks, 2 (1925), 125-30; 7 (1931), 449-56). After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Abraham wandered through Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt until about 1514 when he moved to Jerusalem with the school of the Egyptian nagid, R. Isaac ha-Kohen *Sholal. In Jerusalem, he was one of the most respected scholars of the yeshivah and became widely known through his literary and religious activities. A letter of his from the year 1528 deals with Beta Israel (Kovez al Yad, 4 (1888), 24). He presumably died soon afterward; in 1535, R. "David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra mentions him as someone long dead.

The expulsion of the Jews from Spain shocked Abraham deeply. His activities as an apocalyptic kabbalist probably date from the time of this national disaster. Like many of his contemporaries, such as Abraham *Zacuto, Isaac *Abraba-nel, and others, he believed that the year 1524 would be the beginning of the messianic era, and that the Messiah himself would appear in 1530-31. He devoted himself to elaborating his conviction. He searched for proof in the Bible and the Talmud as well as in kabbalistic literature, and he tried to arouse the Jewish people to prepare for the coming deliverance through penitence. Abraham is one of the best stylists in kabbalistic literature. In 1508 in Greece he wrote the treatise Mashreh Kitrin ("Untier of Knots," 1510), with explanations of the Book of Daniel.Later he wrote Maamar Perek Helek, an explanation of the talmudic statements on the messianic redemption at the end of the tractate Sanhedrin. In 1517, in Jerusalem, Abraham wrote his extensive commentary on the Nevuat ha-Yeled ("The Child’s Prophecy") in the same vein (still in manuscript). It is unlikely that Abraham was the author of the Nevuat ha-Yeled itself. His commentary contains an apocalyptic survey of Jewish history, from the fall of the Second Temple to his own day. In 1521 he wrote Iggeret Sod ha-Geullah ("The Epistle of the Mystery of Redemption") in which, following his views, he interpreted the statements of the *Zohar on redemption (also in manuscript). Abraham issued many calls to penitence, in one of which (1525) he expressed himself in detail on the appearance of Martin "Luther. Thus, he prepared the way for the coming activities of Solomon *Molcho. Various other kabbalistic writings of Abraham have been preserved: Maamar ha-Yihud ("Essay on the Unity of God"); Megillat Amrafel ("Scroll of Amraphel"), published in part in ks, 7 (1930-31), probably identical with his commentary on the Song of Songs; Tiferet Adam ("Glory of Man"); and Livyat Hen ("Chaplet of Grace"; the latter two not extant). His instructions (horaah) on the recitation of the prayer Makhnisei Rahamim have been published as have his penitential prayers seeking the intercession of angels (Kerem Hemed, 9 (1856), 141ft".). Abraham is in no way to be linked with the kabbalistic work Gallei Rezayya nor is he the author of the apology of the Kabbalah, Ohel Moed ("Tent of Meeting"). He has often been confused with other scholars of the same name, among them *Abraham b. Eliezer ha-Levi Berukhim.

The writings and activity of this kabbalist have drawn substantial attention in scholarship in the last generation. Some of Abraham ha-Levi’s kabbalistic views are close to theories found in the circle of kabbalists who produced the literature known as Sefer ha-Meshiv, and he preserved the earliest version of the famous legend about R. *Joseph della Reina’s abortive attempt to bring about the advent of the Messiah. It seems that his messianic and magical concerns are also related to the tenor of this vast kabbalistic literature.

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