Abulafia, Meir ben Todros ha-Levi

(Ramah)
(ca. 1180–1244)
   The rabbi Meir Abulafia was the most important Castilian scholar of the Talmud during the first half of the 13th century. Abulafia was born in Burgos, Spain, about 1180, and spent most of his life in Toledo.He was one of three rabbis appointed to the Toledo Jewish court, and helped to establish ritual regulations for the Jews of Spain. He was held in such high regard in Toledo that in 1225, upon the death of his father, Todros ben Judah, he became known by his father’s honorary title of nasi (prince). Abulafia’s great contributions to scholarship include his substantial Aramaic commentary on the Talmud, called Peratei Peratim, of which only the sections on Bava’ Batra’ and on Sanhedrin survive. He was also known for his carefully edited Torah scroll (produced after consulting a large number of previous scrolls) that became the definitive edition for Spanish Jewry. His Masoret Siyag La-Torah, a manual for Torah writing, was also influential, and he wrote a number of poems in Hebrew that reflect his life and times. The best known of these poems is his “Letter from the Grave.”The poem,written in the voice of his deceased sister, was intended as a comfort to his grieving father.
   He is most famous, however, for his launching the first Maimonodean controversy. Abulafia was highly orthodox in his views, and defended even the most illogical of the Talmud’s aggadah (legendary stories) as literally true. But when in his Guide for the Perplexed the most esteemed medieval Jewish philosopher, MAIMONIDES, had implied his disbelief in the resurrection of the body, the position shocked and outraged Abulafia. He wrote a series of letters condemning Maimonides, first to the Jewish leaders of Lunel and then to those of northern France. In both cases his letters were dismissed and Maimonides supported. Despite his failure, he remained a staunch antirationalist throughout his life. However, when his younger contemporary Nachmanides sought to revive the controversy over Maimonides 30 years later,Abulafia did not participate in the debate, excusing himself because of his age.
   Bibliography
   ■ Carmi, T., ed. and trans. The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse. Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1981.
   ■ Septimus, Bernard. Hispano-Jewish Culture in Transition: The Career and Controversies of Ramah. Harvard Judaic Monographs 4. Cambridge,Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Abulafia, Meir ben Todros Ha-Levi — (1170 1244)    Spanish talmudist and poet. He wrote about halakhah, masorah and the controversy over Maimonides opinion on the subject of resur rection. He also composed Hebrew poetry …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • ABULAFIA, TODROS BEN JUDAH HA-LEVI — (1247–after 1298), Hebrew poet. He was born in Toledo and spent most of his life there. Todros was a member of a well known family of the city, although his kinships with other Abulafias, such as meir abulafia , or with the Rav, todros ben joseph …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • ABULAFIA, TODROS BEN JOSEPH HA-LEVI — (c. 1220–1298), Spanish rabbi and kabbalist. Rabbi Todros ben Joseph ha Levi was born in Burgos, Spain, and died in Toledo. The Abulafia family was famous and respected in Spain. His uncle, Rabbi Meir ha Levi abulafia , was the exilarch of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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