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BOTON:

Spanish family, which immigrated to Salonica, Turkey, in 1492, and which has produced many eminent rabbis and Talmudists. Jews bearing the name are still to be found in Constantinople, Salonica, Safed, and other cities of the East. The following genealogical chart gives the more important members of the family, the figures in parentheses corresponding to the numbers of the biographical notices in the text:

1. Aaron de Boton:

Talmudic scholar; rabbi at Gallipoli, European Turkey, in the latter part of the sixteenth century and at the beginning of the seventeenth; son of Abraham Ḥiyya (No. 3).

2. Abraham de Boton:

Rabbi at Salonica in the seventeenth century; son of Jacob (No. 6) and grandson of Abraham Ḥiyya (No. 3).

3. Abraham Ḥiyya de Boton:

Talmudist and rabbi; born about 1560; died between 1603 and 1609. The name "Ḥiyya" was given him during a dangerous sickness (Ḥiyya = "life"; "may he live!"). He was a pupil of Samuel de Medina, and later dwelt for the most part at Salonica as rabbi and leader of a Talmudic academy. For a time he was rabbi at Polia (Michael, "Or ha-Ḥayyim," p. 95); in 1601 he lived in Palestine (Conforte, "Ḳore ha-Dorot," pp. 47b, 51a); and in 1603 was at Constantinople (Michael, ib.).

Even during his lifetime Boton was distinguished as a Talmudist of wide learning and acumen, though he himself did not have a work printed. His chief work is "Leḥem Mishneh" (Double Bread; also Dispute of the Mishnah), Venice, 1609: it bears also the title "Mishneh Torah." It is a commentary on Maimonides' Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah, or Mishneh Torah, especially on those passages which apparently contradict the Talmud. He not only refers to such passages as had been previously noticed, but discovers a large number of others. At the same time Boton endeavors to establish harmony between the seeming discrepancies by every possible method of interpretation. "Leḥem Mishneh" also contains many remarks on "Maggid Mishneh," Don Vidal de Tolosa's commentary on the Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah. The work is now widely spread, and is incorporated with mosteditions of the Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah that have appeared in the last two centuries. Conforte relates (ib. p. 45a) that his teacher Mordecai Kalai told him and other pupils that the "Leḥem Mishneh" was the joint work of Kalai and Boton, who were fellow-students; and Kalai is even reported to have said that most of the observations in "Leḥem Mishneh" were his own. This aspersion loses force through the fact that though Kalai lived in the same city, he never made this claim against Boton publicly.

Another work of Boton's was "Leḥem Rab" (Great Meal, or Great Dispute), responsa, published by his grandson Abraham (No. 4), Smyrna, 1660.

Bibliography:
  • Conforte, Ḳore ha-Dorot, pp. 37b, 43a, 43b, 44a, 45a, 48a, 50b, 51a;
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ed. Benjacob, i. 7;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 182;
  • Benjacob, Oẓar ha-Sefarim, p. 260;
  • idem, Leḥem Mishneh, Amsterdam, 1703. The novellæ on Baba Ḳamma in Abraham Akra's Meharere Nemerim must be the work of another and earlier Abraham de Boton.
4. Abraham Ḥiyya de Boton:

Eminent rabbi; born about 1625 at Gallipoli, province of Adrianople; died about 1700 at Jerusalem; son of Aaron (No. 1) and grandson of Abraham Ḥiyya (No. 3). He at one time lived at Smyrna, where he was a member of Joseph Eskapa's college of rabbis, and in which city he published (1660) his grandfather's "Leḥem Rab." Toward the end of his life he settled in Jerusalem, accepting the post of rabbi in the divorce court.

Bibliography:
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 40.
5. Abraham ben Judah de Boton:

Talmudist of the eighteenth century. He wrote "Maḥazeh Abraham" (The Vision of Abraham), Salonica, 1796, comprising responsa and Talmudic discussions. The work contains some additions by his son Judah (No. 8).

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ii. 79.
6. Jacob de Boton:

Rabbi at Salonica in the latter part of the sixteenth century or at the beginning of the seventeenth; son of Abraham Ḥiyya (No. 3).

7. Jacob de Boton:

Talmudist, and rabbi at Salonica, where his father, Abraham (No. 2), and grandfather, Jacob (No. 6), had held the same position; died there 1687.

Jacob was the author of "'Edut be-Ya'akob" (Witness in Jacob), responsa, published in Salonica, 1720, with a supplement entitled "Liḳḳuṭim" (Fragments), containing Talmudic collectanea and fragments of his lost work on the "Sefer ha-'Ittur" of Isaac ben Abba Mari.

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ed. Benjacob, i. 86;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. No. 5513.
8. Judah de Boton:

Talmudist of the second half of the eighteenth century. He wrote some Talmudic essays as an appendix to "Maḥazeh Abraham" (Salonica, 1796), a work of his father, Abraham (No. 5).

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ii. 78.
9. Meïr de Boton:

Talmudist of the seventeenth century; son of Abraham Ḥiyya (No. 3). Meïr was rabbi at Gallipoli, and wrote a number of works, of which only his responsa were published (Smyrna, 1660), together with some novellæ on the Talmud. Other responsa by Meïr were included in the works of his contemporaries.

Bibliography:
  • Conforte, Ḳore ha-Dorot, pp. 43a, 44b, 48b, 51b;
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ed. Benjacob, i. 118;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. No. 6295;
  • Benjacob, Oẓar ha-Sefarim, p. 559.
L. G. I. Ber. A. P.
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