Skip to main content

Aaron of Baghdad


AARON OF BAGHDAD (c. mid-ninth century), Babylonian scholar, described as the son of a certain R. Samuel, who lived in Jewish communities in southern Italy. In the sources he is referred to either as Aaron, or Abu Aaron, or Master Aaron (which might be a corrupted version of Abu Aaron). He met with several scholars in Oria, Lucca, and other communities, and many stories were told about his wisdom as well as his magical powers. His appearance is described in Megillat *Aḥima'aẓ, which is a literary chronicle of the *Kalonymus family in Italy, and in a document, written by Eliezer ben Judah of Worms in the second or third decade of the 13th century, tracing the history of the tradition of exegesis of prayers used by Eleazar and his teacher, *Judah b. Samuel he-Ḥasid. These two sources agree in attributing to Aaron, who is described by R. Eleazar as av kol ha-sodot ("father of all the secrets"), the transmission of certain doctrines and methods from the East to the West, to the Kalonymus family in Italy and Germany. As to the nature of these secrets, it is clear from Megillat Aḥima'aẓ that before the arrival of Aaron, Jewish scholars in Italy were studying early mystical, eastern works, especially the mysticism of the Heikhalot and Merkabah. Eleazar's words seem to prove that Aaron contributed to the Ashkenazi ḥasidic tradition of prayer exegesis. The stories in Megillat Aḥima'aẓ suggest that he may have transmitted some magical formulae, as magic was one of the fields of study (usually secret) of both the Italian and the Ashkenazi scholars. There is no evidence that Aaron contributed anything to the development of theological doctrines or mystical speculations in these areas. Nor is there proof that any known book was written by Aaron or contained a contribution by him. However, in the traditions of the Kalonymus family, Aaron serves as the link connecting its own western culture with the revered centers of learning in Babylonia of the geonic period.


A. Neubauer, in: rej, 23 (1891), 230–7; H. Gross, in: mgwj, 49 (1905), 692–700; Kaufmann, Schriften, 3 (1915), 5–11; Scholem, Mysticism, 41, 84; idem, in: Tarbiz, 32 (1962/63), 252–65; Weinstock, ibid., 153–9; J. Dan, in: Roth, Dark Ages, 282–90.

[Joseph Dan]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Aaron of Baghdad." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 15 Oct. 2018 <>.

"Aaron of Baghdad." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (October 15, 2018).

"Aaron of Baghdad." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved October 15, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.