Kitab al-Rasa’il, R. Meir ben Tordos ha-Levi Abulafia, Paris 1871 (50029)

כתאב אלרסאייל - Only Edition

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 50029
Title (English): Kitab al-Rasa’il
Title (Hebrew): כתאב אלרסאייל
Note: Only Edition
Author: R. Meir ben Tordos ha-Levi Abulafia
City: Paris
Publication Date: 1871
Estimated Price: $200.00 USD - $500.00 USD
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Description

Physical Description

Only edition. [2], 22, 152 pp. octavo 200:130 mm., wide margins, light age staining. A very good copy bound in contemporary boards, rubbed and split.
     

Detail Description

Only edition of the famed record of his correspondence and positions on the doctrine of resurrection by the renowned R. R. Meir ben Tordos ha-Levi Abulafia. Today, R. Abulafia is best known for his controversy with Maimonides over the doctrine of resurrection. Maimonides' view on this subject seemed heretical to him. R. Abulafia, in spite of his youth, publicly denounced them, and was the first in Europe to do so during Maimonides' lifetime. His accusations were mainly in the form of letters to the rabbis of southern France, especially the “sages of Lunel,” who held Maimonides in great esteem and strongly defended his views. The whole correspondence, which also included an exchange of letters with the rabbis of northern France, did not bring the hoped for result and was a great disappointment to R. Abulafia. Thirty years later, when the controversy was renewed, he was asked by Nahmanides to take part in it again, but remembering his earlier failure, he refused. Much of the correspondence, edited by R. Abulafia, was not published until this edition of Kitab al-Rasa’il. R. Abulafia's conception of resurrection, far from being an abstract philosophy, is based upon the traditional belief, according to which the words of the rabbis on the subject are taken in their literal sense. Notwithstanding this (and contrary to Graetz's opinion), R. Abulafia possessed a wide knowledge of the Hebrew and Arabic philosophy of his time. In his work are mentioned the hakhmei ha-tushiyyah (“philosophers”) and their opinions concerning the creation of man, the nature of the “heavenly host” (angels), and the like (see his instructive words on Sanh. 38b concerning “Adam was a heretic”).

R. Meir ben Tordos ha-Levi Abulafia (c. 1170–1244) was a talmudic commentator, thinker, and poet; the most renowned Spanish rabbi of the first half of the 13th century. His only son Judah died in 1226, but his grandchildren and great-grandchildren through his daughters lived in Toledo about a century after his death. Meir himself and his family carried the title nasi, and the whole family was connected by marriage with the foremost families of Toledo. In his youth, R. Abulafia went from Burgos to Toledo where he spent the rest of his life. It seems that as early as 1204 he was a member of the Toledo bet din, together with R. Meir ibn Migash and R. Abraham b. Nathan ha-Yarhi. He played an important part in the organization of the communities in Spain, especially that of Toledo, where he instituted many religious regulations.

R. Abulafia's literary activity spans four general areas: halakhah, masorah, the controversy over Maimonides' opinion on the subject of resurrection, and Hebrew poetry. His greatest though least known work is his extensive commentary, which covered about half the Talmud. This commentary, unique both in quantity and in quality, may be considered the summation and the conclusion of the talmudic school of the Spanish rabbis, and R. Abulafia its last representative (his younger contemporary and countryman Nahmanides brought an end to the local traditional method by his introduction of the tosafists' method of study from Germany and France). In his book, originally named Sefer Peratei Peratin (“Book of Minute Details”), Abulafia goes into the smallest details of each subject, attempting to extract from his explanations the maximum of practical rules. Its rapid disappearance may be attributed to its relative verbosity, as well as to the preference shown for the books of Nahmanides. The work is written entirely in Aramaic, in the style of the geonim and R. Isaac Alfasi, and all decisions are presented with confidence. R. Abulafia never mentions his teachers and rarely his predecessors by name, but he does draw upon and even quote (though anonymously) the early Spanish rabbis. Most of R. Abulafia's specific references are to the geonim, especially to Hai and Sherira, and he refers as well to R. Alfasi, Hananel, Joseph ibn Migash, Rashi, Maimonides, and Jacob Tam. His knowledge of the teachings of the French and German talmudists is evidently limited. His work presents many old Spanish versions of the Talmud which are of special importance. Only two parts have hitherto been published (under the name Yad Ramah)—those dealing with the tractates Bava Batra and Sanhedrin (Salonika, 1790–98). However, manuscripts of his commentaries to many other tractates (none of which is extant) were known to the rabbis in earlier generations. Thus a great part of his commentary on the tractate Horayot is included in R. Azulai's Sha'ar Yosef on the tractate Avot, in R. Samuel Uceda's Midrash Shemu'el (1579), on the tractates of Nezikin, in R. Bezalel Ashkenazi's Shitah Mekubbezet, and - a great deal - anonymously in Menahem ha-Meiri's commentaries on the Talmud.

 

Hebrew Description

אגרות לרב רבינו מאיר הלוי מתורגם בעברית: ספר אגרות לרב רבינו מאיר הלוי ז"ל בר' טודרוס הלוי ... מטוליטולה הנודע בשם אבואלעפיאה. נקבץ בו אגרת מהרמ"ה לרבני ארץ צרפת, אוגרת בתוכה העתק אגרת הראשונה ממנו לחכמי לוניל ואגרת תוכחות עם אגרת תשובוח מרבנו אהרן [ב"ר משולם] אליו ואגרת האחרונה ממנו אליהם. אגרת א' להכריע ביניהם ואגרת ב' להשיג מרבנו שמשון ב"ר אברהם. אגרת מרמ"ה אל ר"ש. אגרת מר"ש לרמ"ה. אגרת מרמ"ה לר"ש. נמצא בכתובים באוצר ... מוה' יוזיל גינצבורג הי"ו יצא לאור על ידי יחיאל ברי"ל ...

   

Reference Description  

BE alef 422; EJ; Bibliography of the Hebrew Book 1470-1960 #000105289