ABRAHAM BEN ELIJAH HA-KOHEN:
By: Louis Ginzberg
German ritualist; flourished in the fifteenth century. His epitome of the precepts governing prohibited articles of food was printed for the first time in 1599, as an appendix to the Basel edition of Isaac Düren's "Sha'are Dura." The author did not address himself to scholars, but to the masses, whom he desired to instruct in a concise manner on the subject of forbidden food. A letter to the community of Halberstadt, which is inserted as an introduction to his epitome (p. 84), is an appeal to the members of that community to circulate the booklet among the people of the neighboring communities and to explain it in German to those who do not understand Hebrew.
Identical with this Abraham seems to be Abraham Cohen-Ẓedeḳ, who, according to a note in the responsa (No. 88) of Solomon Luria (died 1573), had put the Passover dinim into rime, in order to afford useful entertainment to those people who, according to ancient custom, spent the larger portion of the first two nights of the Passover in joyous devotions.
It is quite possible that he composed the above halakic poem at the request of the community of Halberstadt. The opinion of Michael, that this Abraham ben Elijah ha-Kohen is identical with the one mentioned by Maharil (R. Jacob ben Moses Mölln), must be rejected on chronological grounds; for this Abraham flourished later than Maharil, as may be seen from Luria (l.c.). Abraham ben Elijah ha-Kohen left some responsa in manuscript, which are now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England ("Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 820), and which furnish, at least approximately, the date of his life. The period of his activity could not have extended much beyond the year 1470.
- Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 42;
- Zunz, Z. G. i. 161, 194;
- Neubauer, Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS. No. 820.