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KUTTOWER, ABRAHAM GERSHON BEN EPHRAIM:

Polish rabbi and cabalist; born at Kuty, Galicia; died at Jerusalem about 1760. He was a follower of Isaac Luria's system of practical Cabala, and spent most of his time in fasting. He was also a recognized authority in rabbinical matters, and Ezekiel Landau, who inserted a responsum of Kuttower's in his "Noda' bi-Yehudah," speaks of him in terms of high praise. His authority as a cabalist is invoked by Eybeschütz in his "Luḥot 'Edut."

Kuttower was at first rabbi at Brody, where Israel Ba'al Shem-Ṭob became his brother-in-law. Owing to Shem-Ṭob's pretense of being an ignorant man, he was treated harshly by Kuttower (see Ba'al Shem-Ṭob). Later, Kuttower went to Palestine, and in a letter of 1757 he declared that he had lived at Hebron for six years alone, then at Jerusalem for four years with his family (Luncz, "Jerusalem," ii. 152 et seq.). There is, however, a tradition that Kuttower studied Cabala under Ḥayyim ibn 'Aṭṭar, who died at Jerusalem in 1743 (Hurwitz, "Ḥibbat Yerushalayim"). Possibly he went to Hebron before 1747; and after having remained there six years, returned to Brody in order to induce his sons to marry, and then went back to Jerusalem. During his secondstay at Brody, Kuttower was reconciled with Israel Ba'al Shem-Ṭob, and he exchanged letters with him when settled at Jerusalem, where he finally adopted the Ḥasidic system of his brother-in-law. At Jerusalem, Kuttower became the "rosh yeshibah" in the Midrash Ḥasidim organized by those who had come to Palestine headed by Judah he-Ḥasid.

Bibliography:
  • Abraham Kahana, R. Yisrael Ba'al Shem-Ṭob, pp. 38, 96 et seq.;
  • Simeon Dubnow, in Pardes, ii. 202-204, Odessa, 1894;
  • Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, p. 34.
K. M. Sel.
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