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IBN LAṬIF, ISAAC B. ABRAHAM:

Spanish physician and cabalist; probably born at Toledo; died at Jerusalem, whither he had gone in indigent circumstances, about 1290. He was the natural philosopher among the cabalists of his period. Cabalistic terms had not become fixed at that time, and Ibn Laṭif attempted to give them a more scientific character, and to base the doctrine of the Sefirot upon natural philosophy; in this, however, he was not successful, although his works were otherwise highly valued. He wrote the following: (1) "Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," his chief work, still in manuscript, part of which has been published by Jellinek in "Ha-Shaḥar"; said to have been written about 1244; it is in four parts and follows the style of Maimonides' "Moreh"; the introduction contains a historical sketch of Jewish science up to the time of Maimonides; (2) "Ginze ha-Melek," published by Jellinek in "Kokebe Yiẓḥaḳ," 1847, p. 28; (3) "Ẓeror ha-Mor," dedicated to Todros Abulafia, the Mæcenas of the cabalists; printed in "Kerem Ḥemed," 1833, ix. 154; (4) "Iggeret ha-Teshubah," a letter from Jerusalem addressed to Abulafia in regard to various scientific matters; it contains thirty-nine questions and answers, twenty-six of which have been published in the "Teḥiyyah" (1857, ii. 50) by Senior Sachs; (5) "Ẓurat ha-'Olam," printed by S. Stern in "Ḳebuẓat Ḥakamim," 1860; (6) "Rab Pe'alim," on metaphysics and natural philosophy, edited by Schönblum in 1885; (7) Letter from Jerusalem, still in manuscript (Parma, De Rossi, MS. No. 402). He also wrote a commentary to Job, not yet edited, and a commentary to Ecclesiastes, probably printed at Constantinople in the sixteenth century. All the editions of his works are too imperfect to convey a clear impression of his cabalistic ideas. Isaac b. Sheshet's criticism of Ibn Laṭif in his Responsa, No. 197, is noteworthy.

Bibliography:
  • Jellinek, in Kerem Hemed, ix.;
  • idem, in Kokebe Yiẓḥaḳ, xxv., xxvii-xxx.;
  • Schöblum, Introduction to Rab Pe'alim;
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. 1874; xv. 83.
K. P. B.
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