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ABTALION BEN SOLOMON:

Italian rabbi; born at Consiglio about 1540; died Oct. 26, 1616. He was a pupil of Samuel Judah Katzenellenbogen, rabbi of Padua. His veneration for his teacher was so great that he had his portrait painted and hung in his study. When asked to explain this act, then an uncommon one among the Jews, he wittily replied that Isaiah had said (Isa. xxx. 20), "And thine eyes shall see thy teachers." After having completed his studies he settled as rabbi at Rovigo. A decision rendered by Abtalion on a question concerning the ritual fitness of a miḳweh (ritual bath) gave rise to a heated discussion among the Italian rabbis, his opponents being the rabbis of Venice, who were the most learned in the country. Apart from several decisions on that cause célèbre, scattered through the works of the most important rabbis of those times, there are four books wholly devoted to the subject; namely: "Milḥamot Adonai" (Venice, 1608); "Miḳweh Yisrael" (Venice, 1607); "Palge Mayim" (1617) for, and "Mashbit Milḥamot" (1606) against, Abtalion. Abtalion vehemently condemned the pilpul method, and opposed it. Leon de Modena, the critic (1571-1648), glorified Abtalion's name in an elegy which was used as the latter's epitaph.

Bibliography:
  • Ghirondi and Nepi, Toledot Gedole Yisrael, pp. 15, 17;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 8.
L. G.
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