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ISAAC B. ABBA MARI:

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French codifier; born in Provence about 1122; died after 1193 (in Marseilles ?). Isaac's father, a great rabbinical authority, who wrote commentaries on the Talmud ("'Iṭṭur," i. 17, ed. Warsaw, section "Kinyan"), and responsa (l.c. p. 49, section "Shemat Ba'alim"), was his teacher. In his "'Iṭṭur" Isaac often mentions as another of his teachers his uncle, who, according to a manuscript note (see Neubauer. "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 2356), was a pupil of Alfasi. Isaac carried on a friendly correspondence with Jacob Tam, whom he was in the habit of consulting on doubtful questions, though not as a pupil consults a teacher. Abraham b. Nathan of Lunel and Abraham b. Isaac (RABaD II.) were related to him, while the son-in-law of the latter, Abraham b. David of Posquières, frequently consulted him on scientific questions. Isaac began his literary activity at the age of seventeen, when, at his father's suggestion, he wrote "Sheḥiṭah u-Ṭerefot," rules for the slaughtering of animals and the eating of their flesh. At about the same time he wrote a small work on the precepts concerning ẓiẓit, at the request of Sheshet Benveniste "ha-Nasi" of Barcelona. Both works form a part of the legal codex "'Iṭṭur," or "'Iṭṭur Soferim," which occupied Isaac about twenty-three years (from 1170 to 1193). Until modern times only the first part of this work was known (Venice, 1608); the whole codex was published first by Schönblum (Lemberg, 1860), and included Isaac's "'Aseret ha-Dibrot," which is really only a special name for a part of the "'Iṭṭur." The "'Iṭṭur" contains, in three parts, almost a complete code of laws, and is divided as follows: part i., jurisprudence, including the laws of marriage and divorce; part ii., rules concerning the slaughter of cattle, and concerning meat which it is permissible to eat; concerning circumcision, ẓiẓit, tefillin, marriage ceremonies; part iii., "'Aseret ha-Dibrot," embracing a consideration of the rules governing the following ten subjects: (1) the Feast of Tabernacles; (2) lulab; (3) hallel; (4) shofar; (5) Yom Kippur; (6) megillah; (7) Ḥanukkah; (8) prohibition of leavened bread on the Passover; (9) the commandment concerning maẓẓah and mara; (10) general laws for feast-days.

The book belongs to the classic productions of rabbinical literature in France. Isaac shows in this work a knowledge of the two Talmuds such as almost no other person of his time possessed. With works on the Geonim, among them many responsa and treatises which are otherwise unknown to-day, he shows the same familiarity as with the productions of the northern French Talmudists. At the same time he proceeds independently in his criticism, without regard to the age or reputation of former authorities, and spares not even the Geonim and Alfasi, though he admired them greatly.

Spread of the "'Iṭṭur."

While Spanish and German Talmudists, up to the time of the "Ṭur," often mentioned the "'Iṭṭur," and authorities like Solomon ibn Adret, Asher b.Jehiel, Mordecai b. Hillel, and several others refer to this work, after the appearance and wide circulation of the "Ṭur" it soon shared the fate of many other codices (as, for example, Abraham b. Isaac's "Eshkol"), and fell into disuse. Joseph Caro was the first who, after a long interval, made use of the "'Iṭṭur" (for his "Bet Yosef"; see the introduction), but even he does not appear to have had the whole work before him (comp. "Bet Yosef," Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 671).

At the end of the seventeenth century Jacob b. Israel Sason wrote a commentary to a part of the "'Iṭṭur," under the title "Bene Ya'aḳob" (Constantinople, 1704). In the eighteenth century the following authors wrote commentaries to the work Eliezer b. Jacob ("Naḥum"; not published); Abraham Giron ("Tiḳḳun Soferim u-Mikra Soferim" (Constantinople, 1756, with text); Jacob b. Abraham de Boton gives fragments of his commentary to the "'Iṭṭur" in his collection of responsa, "'Edut be- Ya'aḳob" (Salonica, 1720); while a similar work by Solomon al-Gazi was lost during its author's lifetime. Samuel Schönblum published an edition of the "'Iṭ- ṭur" annotated by himself. Meïr Jonah b. Samuel wrote a very exhaustive and learned commentary (with text; parts ii. and iii., Wilna, 1874; part i., in two sections, Warsaw, 1883 and 1885). Isaac wrote also marginal notes to Alfasi's "Halakot," with the title "Me'ah She'arim," which appeared for the first time in a Wilna edition of Alfasi (1881-97). No trace has been preserved of his commentary to Ketubot, which he quotes ("'Iṭṭur," i. 15, section "Zeman").

Bibliography:
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ii. 108;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 372-373;
  • Neubauer, in Monatsschrift, xx. 173-176;
  • idem, Les Rabbins Fraçais, pp. 520-521;
  • idem, Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS. No. 2356;
  • Meïr Jonah b. Samuel, in the introduction to his edition of the 'Iṭṭur;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 1066-1067;
  • Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 1072;
  • Zedner, Cat. Hebr. Books Brit. Mus.;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, pp. 582-583;
  • for the father of Isaac, comp. Abba Marl b. Isaac.
S. S. L. G.
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