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ABOAB (also written Abohab, Abuab, Aboaf, Abof, and Abohaf; V01p072001.jpg, also V01p072002.jpg, "Jew. Quart. Rev." x. 130; V01p072003.jpg, ibid. xi. 527):

(Redirected from ABRAHAM ABOAB.)

The name of an ancient and widely distributed Spanish family, among whose members were many most able scholars. The family can be authentically traced to the thirteenth century, and representatives thereof are to be found in Holland, Italy, Turkey, Africa, and America. Some branches of this family, in which the names Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Samuel frequently occur, can be followed genealogically. Through marriage, and by following the Spanish customof joining together the paternal and maternal names, there arose the families of Aboab y Cardoso, Aboab y Lopez, Aboab y Brandaõ, Aboab y Coronel, Aboab y Osorio, Aboab de Paz, etc. (Kayserling, "Bibl. Esp.-Port. Jud." pp. 2 et seq.; "Jew. Quart. Rev." x. 130; "Rev. Ét. Juives," xxv. 203, where further data will be found; and see also the lists at the end of D. H. de Castro's "De Synagogue van de Portugeesch Israelietisch Gemeente te Amsterdam," which contain a number of additional names).

1. Abraham Aboab (probably identical with Abuhafa Ham in Jacobs, "Sources," p. 19) is the oldest Aboab known to us. He lived at Pelof, Aragon. He received in 1263 from the king Don Jaime a tower called Altea, with the surrounding dairy farms and all rights and privileges of ownership. 2. Another Abraham, a learned contemporary of Judah ben Asher, lived in 1340 at Toledo. He was the son of Isaac Aboab, the author of the "Menorat ha-Maor." 3. Among the earliest Spanish emigrants to Amsterdam were Abraham, and his son Jacob, who died in 1604. 4. The son of the latter, Abraham, was, in 1639, ḥazan of the congregation Bet Jacob in Amsterdam. 5. Another Abraham, who lived in 1655, was a proof-reader and publisher at Venice. 6. Philanthropist of the first half of the seventeenth century. A profoundly religious man, devoted to the study of Hebrew literature. About the year 1627 he established at Hamburg a synagogue called Keter Torah, as well as Jewish schools in Palestine, Mantua, and other places. He was widely known and honored on account of his extraordinary benevolence. The last years of his life were passed at Verona, Italy, where his favorite son, Samuel Aboab, was rabbi, and there he died at a very old age, in March, 1642. The preacher Azariah Figo delivered his funeral discourse, which is printed in Figo's "Collection of Sermons" (No. 77). 7. Son of Samuel Aboab; was rabbi in Venice and died there in the same year as his father, 1694.

Abraham ben Jacob Aboab:

A grandson of Samuel; a learned and benevolent man. He died in Salonica in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Daniel Ẓemaḥ Aboab:

Was a physician in Amsterdam. In 1668 he married Rebecca, the daughter of Jacob Lopez.

David Aboab:

1. In Amsterdam, was the author of a work completed in 1685 (but never printed), entitled "Catalogo de Diferentes Remedios para Diversas Sortes de Achaques, Achados por Experiencia Haverem Sido Bonos" (Catalogue of Diverse Remedies for Various Ailments, Found by Experience to Have Been Good). 2. Gave in Venice a rabbinical decision concerning the singing of the priestly benediction, in response to a question of Nehemiah ben Baruch, rabbi in Ferrara.

Elijah Aboab:

1. Established the first synagogue in Hamburg in 1625. 2. Another Elijah was a publisher of Hebrew books in Amsterdam about 1645.

Immanuel Aboab:

Portuguese scholar; a greatgrandson of Isaac Aboab (died 1493); was born in Oporto, Portugal, about 1555; died at Venice in 1628. He early became an orphan and was reared by his grandfather Abraham Aboab. He emigrated to Italy, and after living some time at Pisa he removed to Corfu, where he became acquainted with Horazio del Monte, a nephew of the duke of Urbino. In Reggio he became acquainted with Menahem Azaria de Fano; thence he went to Spoleto and elsewhere in Italy, and finally settled at Venice. Here he had occasion, in 1603, to defend his coreligionists, in the presence of an exalted commission, against malicious accusations, and he proved with ease that the Jews had never lacked the courage and devotion to make the greatest sacrifices on behalf of the country that protected them in their rights and which they could truly call "fatherland." Aboab had the intention of going to Palestine and publishing there his works, "The Kingdom of the Intellect" and "The Foundations of Truth," which he had written in defense of the Talmud. He was the author of a defense of the traditional law and of a chronological list of that law's exponents. He worked at this treatise, which was much prized by the pious, for ten years, and completed it in 1625. It was published by his heirs at Amsterdam, in 1629 (2d ed., ibid., 1727), under the title, "Nomologia o Discursos Legales, Compuestos por el Virtuose Hakam Rabi Imanuel Aboab de Buena Memoria." A manuscript of this work exists in the library of the Historical Academy in Madrid.

  • De Rossi, Dizionario Storico, Germ. transl. by Hamberger, pp. 12-13;
  • Kayserling, Immanuel Aboab, in Jeschurun, iv. 572 et seq., v. 643 et seq.;
  • idem, Gesch. d. Juden in Port. pp. 271 et seq.
M. K.Isaac Aboab:

Author of "Menorat ha-Maor"; lived in Spain about 1300. As shown by Zunz ("Ritus," pp. 204-210), he is not to be confounded with Isaac Aboab, rabbi of Castile, the supercommentator of Naḥmanides, who died in 1493 (see following article).

He was a man of affairs, who, toward the close of his life, devoted much time to literary work and to preaching, as he found, he complained, that great Talmudic scholars and important seats of learning were rare. In his time the Jews for whom he wrote still understood and spoke Arabic. He belonged to a period of intellectual decline when men took naturally to eclecticism. He combined extensive rabbinical knowledge with philosophical erudition, and was fond of mystic interpretation of the Mosaic laws and ceremonies. He quoted Aristotle and Plato, though only from secondary sources, and endeavored to illustrate passages from the Talmud and the midrashic literature, with which he was especially familiar, by utterances taken from the philosophical, the ethical, and the mystic literature of his time. His chief aim was the popularization of knowledge and the elevation of the masses.

Aboab wrote three books. The first, on Jewish rites, under the title of "Aron ha-'Edut" (The Ark of the Testimony), was divided, after the manner of the Decalogue, into ten sections, each again subdivided into chapters and paragraphs. The various ritual laws were therein traced to their Talmudic sources, and the decisions of the Geonim and later interpretations added. His second book, on the prayers and benedictions, was called "Shulḥan ha-Panim" (Table of the Showbread), and was divided into twelve sections, symbolizing the twelve loaves of the showbread in the Tabernacle; both works unfortunately are lost.

His third book has survived, and has won considerable fame for the author, though in his humility he assures his readers that he composed it chiefly for his own use as a public speaker. But besides this it has contributed probably more than any other medieval book to the popularization of rabbinical lore and to the religious edification and elevation of the masses. It belongs to that class of ethical works which sprang up in the thirteenth century in a time of reaction against the one-sided manner in which the Talmudic studies had been previously pursued.

"These Talmudists," he says in the preface, "consider it their duty to propose difficult questions and answer them in a witty and subtle manner, but leave unnoticed the precious pearls that lie upon the bed of the Talmudic ocean, the haggadic passages so rich in beauty and sweetness."

He conceived, therefore, the plan of grouping together the rich material stored up in the vast treasure-house of the Haggadah from the religious and ethical point of view, and of presenting it in a book which he called "Menorat ha-Maor" (The Candlestick of Light; compare Num. iv. 9), intending by it to illumine the minds and the hearts of his coreligionists. With reference to the seven-armed candlestick in the Tabernacle (Ex. xxv. 31; Num. viii. 2), he divided the book into seven sections, each of which bears the title of "Ner," or "Lamp," subdivided into separate parts and chapters. It can hardly be said that the division of the matter treated is very logical and systematic, nor indeed does the work lay any claim to originality; but in presenting the beautiful moral and religious truths of Judaism in homely form, Aboab supplied to the average reader a great need of the time. Its skilful arrangement of the various Biblical and rabbinical topics and its warm tone of deep earnestness and sincerity could notfail to appeal to the popular heart. And as in the course of time the sermon, then still in use among the Spanish Jews, ceased to be a part of the divine service because the preacher had to give way to the ḥazan, or precentor, the "Menorat ha-Maor" became a substitute for the living voice of the preacher. It was translated into Spanish and read to attentive assemblies of the people, particularly to those not versed in the Law. It thus became the household book of the medieval Jews. It was published with a Spanish translation (Leghorn, 1657), with a Hebrew commentary and a Judæo-German translation by Moses Frankfurter (Amsterdam, 1701), with a modern German translation by Fürstenthal and Behrend (Krotoschin, 1844-46). It was translated also into Yiddish, Wilna, 1880. The book must not be confused with a work of the same name by Israel Alnaqua.

  • Zunz, Ritus, pp. 204-210;
  • Menorat ha-Maor, introduction by Behrend, Krotoschin, 1844;
  • see also Brüll's Jahrb. ii. 166, where attention is called to a passage in Aboab on the holiness of the marital relations, Menorat ha-Maor, §§ 181-186, taken almost literally from Naḥmanides' Iggeret ha-Kodesh.
  • Against the charge of plagiarism, see Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. 1876, p. 89.
S. B. K.Isaac Aboab:

Spanish Bible commentator; presumably a descendant of preceding; born at Toledo in 1433; died in January, 1493. He was the pupil and successor of Isaac Campanton, and was called "the last gaon of Castile." After Ferdinand and Isabella issued the decree of expulsion in 1492, he with thirty others of the most respected Jews of the land went to Lisbon in order to negotiate with King John II. of Portugal for the reception of his banished coreligionists. He and his companions were allowed to settle under favorable conditions in Porto. He died a few months after the expulsion. His disciple, the chronicler and mathematician Abraham Zacuto, delivered his funeral address. Many of Aboab's disciples attained to great distinction. Of his works the following have appeared in print: "Nehar Pishon," a collection of sermons, Constantinople, 1538; "A Supercommentary to Naḥmanides' Pentateuch-Commentary," Constantinople, 1525; Venice, 1548, etc. A supercommentary to the commentary of Rashi on the Pentateuch and a number of rabbinical decisions exist in manuscript.

Isaac Aboab:

Son of Mattathiah; a contemporary of Isaac da Fonseca Aboab and often confounded with him. He was born in Amsterdam, and became ḥakam of the Portuguese congregation there; he was a friend of the learned Surenhuysius (Bloch, "Oest. Wochenschrift," 1899, No. 48, p. 902). He died about 1720 at Amsterdam. He wrote a book of exhortation and admonition for his son, which appeared at Amsterdam, in 1687, under the title "Exortação Paraque os Tementes do Senhor na Observança dos Preceitos de sua S. Ley." A number of his works exist in manuscript, among them a genealogy of the Aboab family and a "Comedia de la Vida y Successos de Josseph."

  • Kayserling, Bibl. Esp.-Port. Jud. pp. 3, 4.
M. K.Isaac da Fonseca Aboab:

Ḥakam at Amsterdam; born at Castrodaire, Portugal, in 1605; died on April 4, 1693, aged eighty-eight; was the son of David Aboab and Isabel da Fonseca, who was in her fifty-first year at the time of his birth. In order to be distinguished from Isaac de Mattathiah Aboab, he added his mother's name to his own.

V01p074001.jpgIsaac da Fonseca Aboab.(From the portrait in the Archives of the Amsterdam Portuguese Congregation.)

In fear of danger from the Inquisition, David fled with his family to St. Jean de Luz, a small town on the Franco-Spanish frontier. Here he appears to have died, and his widow, Isabel, not yet feeling herself safe, emigrated in 1612 with her son to Amsterdam, where relatives of her husband had already settled. Here Isaac studied under the direction of the ḥakam Isaac Uzziel and made such progress that in 1619 he already held a public office. When twenty-one years of age he became ḥakam of the community. When the three congregations of Amsterdam were united in 1639, Aboab was confirmed in his post; but his position can not have been very remunerative, for in 1642 he accepted a call to Pernambuco, Brazil, at that time in the hands of the Dutch. Here, however, he could not permanently remain. In 1649, war broke out between the Dutch and the Portuguese regarding the possession of Brazil, in which the latter were victorious. All the Jews were obliged to leave the country. Aboab returned to Amsterdam. Such was the esteem in which he was held, that he was reappointed ḥakam. His duties were to preach three times monthly and to give instruction at the Talmud Torah, as well as at the Yeshibah, or Talmudic Academy, established by the rich brothers De Pinto, of which latter institution he was the head. Aboab was an able preacher, an excellent Hebrew poet—as can be seen from his occasional poems—and was also acquainted with the natural sciences. He was inclined to the Cabala, and translated into Hebrew the Spanish works of Alonso de Herrera on the Cabala. In his old age he was a secret adherent of Shabbethai Ẓebi. For more than half a century Aboab presided over the community and did much to promote its welfare. He gave the first impulse to the building of the great synagogue. He had an extensive library, a catalogue of which was printed in 1693. Aboab was the first Jewish author in America. Of his works the following have appeared: "Parafrasis Comentada sobre el Pentateuco," Amsterdam, 1681; "Sermão en Memoria de Abraham Nuñez Bernal"; "Sermão Funebre en Memoria de Dr. Joseph Bueno," Amsterdam, 1669; "Sermão no Alegre Estreamente e Publica Celebridade da Esnoga," Amsterdam, 1675; "Sermão . . . por HatanTorah Sr. Yahacob Israel Henriques," Amsterdam, 1678. He wrote in Hebrew, under the title V01p075001.jpg V01p075002.jpg, an account of the war between the Portuguese and the Dutch in Brazil, and of the sufferings of the Jews there. This work has been partially published in the "Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc." No. 5, 129 et seq.

  • Kayserling, Bibl. Esp.-Port. Jud. pp. 4, 5;
  • Publications of the Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. iii. 14-20, 103 et seq., v. 125-136;
  • Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, x. passim;
  • De Castro, who gives the epitaphs of Aboab and his wives, in Keur van Grafsteenen, pp. 67 et seq.
M. K.Isaac Ẓemaḥ Aboab:

A physician, like his brother Daniel, at Amsterdam. He was a friend of Benedict de Castro, physician in ordinary to Queen Christina of Sweden, and of Benjamin Musaphia in Hamburg. An Isaac Aboab is mentioned as living in Barbados in 1680 ("Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc." i. 105).

Jacob Aboab:

1. Rabbi at Venice; was the son and successor of Samuel Aboab. He died after 1727 at Venice. He edited and published, at the expense of his wealthy elder brother, David Aboab, the rabbinical decisions of his father, and provided the book with a detailed biography of its author. He paid especial attention to Biblical antiquities and natural science. He conducted an active literary correspondence with Theophil Unger, a pastor at Herrenlaurn-schütz, who was an enthusiastic collector of Hebrew manuscripts. These letters are preserved in the City Library of Hamburg (No. 335, 3). Christian Wolf mentions this Aboab in his "Bibl. Hebr." in sixty places. Aboab also maintained, from 1682 to 1692, a scientific correspondence with the learned imperial councilor Job Ludolf, at Frankfort-on-the-Main. These letters are preserved in the Frankfort City Library. He wrote a number of rabbinical decisions, which are preserved in the works of others; for instance, in the "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ" of Isaac Lampronti. 2. A physician at Mecca at l626. 3. Another Jacob Aboab was one of the earliest Jewish immigrants to New York, where he arrived in 1654, probably from Holland ("Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc." ii. 77, vi. 83). 4. Son of a Hebrew proof-reader, Abraham Aboab; was a printer at Venice, 1669-82. 5. Son of Benjamin Aboab, lived about 1675 in Amsterdam and was renowned for his keen intellect. 6. Son of Isaac Aboab, "the last gaon of Castile"; published the religious discourses of his father in 1538.

Joseph Aboab:

Son of Samuel; was for some time rabbi at Venice. He was the author of rabbinical decisions, as yet not printed. He emigrated to Palestine and died at Hebron.

Judah Aboab:

A grandson of Isaac Aboab, the "last gaon"; was a dayyan (juez) at Alcazarquivir in Africa. He had many disciples, among them David Fayon, who provided Immanuel Aboab with much information concerning the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal ("Nomologii," 302).

Mattathiah Aboab:

Represented the congregation Bet Jacob in Amsterdam, in 1639. His son Moses was later president of the united Portuguese community.

Letters of denization were granted in New York (June 25, 1684) to a Moses Aboab ("Publications of the Am. Jew. Hist. Soc." vi. 104).

Raphael Aboab:

Emigrated in 1669 to Surinam.

Samuel Aboab:

Son of Abraham; was a very prominent rabbi of the seventeenth century. He was born at Venice in 1610; died there Aug. 22, 1694. He very early began the study of rabbinical literature. When thirteen years of age, he became the pupil of the learned David Franco. From him Aboab received the intellectual tendency which he followed all his life. When eighteen years of age, he married the portionless daughter of Franco, named Mazzal-Ṭob, a proceeding unusual at that time. He was first appointed rabbi in Verona, whither his father and brothers soon followed him. Here he gained such a reputation for learning that disciples from far and near sought him, and the rabbis of Italy turned to him with difficult religious questions. He became known by the name RaSHA (V01p075003.jpg), a word formed from the initial letters of his Hebrew name. Aboab was not only profoundly learned in all Jewish science, but also acquainted with secular learning and a master of several languages. He understood Latin and German, spoke Italian, and read and wrote Spanish. He was rigid, even ascetic, in his piety; fasted much, studied the Law day and night, and ate no meat on week-days. He was extremely modest and charitable, supported his disciples, and visited the poor in their dwellings. In 1650 he was called to Venice as rabbi. There he became involved in the controversy concerning Shabbethai Ẓebi and his representative or apostle, Nathan of Gaza. The latter confessed to Aboab, as president of the rabbinical tribunal (bet din) of Venice, that his (Nathan of Gaza's) prophecies concerning the Messianic character of Shabbethai Ẓebi were mere deceptions. In advanced age Aboab became the victim of many misfortunes. Domestic troubles and severe illness afflicted him, and in his eightieth year he was compelled to leave Venice and his family, and to wander from place to place. It was only shortly before his death that he received permission from the doge and the senate of Venice to return to the city and to reassume his office, which in his absence had been conducted by his son Joseph, who resembled him in piety and modesty. Before his death he called together his four sons, Abraham, David, Jacob, and Joseph, and besought them never to pronounce carelessly the name of God, to be scrupulously honest in all their dealings, never to calumniate, never to give any one a contemptuous appellation or nickname, but to care for the education of the young, and to attend synagogue daily. Of his works there have appeared: "Debar Shemuel" (Word of Samuel), a collection of rabbinical decisions (Venice, 1702); and, anonymously, "Sefer ha-Zikronot," a treatise on ethical conduct (Venice, 1650). Rabbi Joshua (Joseph) ben David, of Venice, composed an elegy upon his death, printed in the collection of poems "Kos Tanḥumim" (Venice, 1707).

M. K.
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