Abbas, Moses Judah ben Meir

views updated


ABBAS, MOSES JUDAH BEN MEIR (c. 1601–1671), talmudist, halakhist, and poet. Abbas came from a Spanish family which, after settling in Salonika, spread throughout Turkey. He himself was born in Salonika. From his youth onward Abbas endured poverty and illness. His rabbis were Mordecai Kalsy, Jonah Adelie, and Solomon (iii) b. Isaac (Bet ha-Levi) *Levi. Appointed rabbi in Egypt, he founded a yeshivah and talmud torah from which he earned his living. To enlist the necessary financial support he traveled extensively, and wrote appeals to those towns he was unable to visit. In the last years of his life he was a rabbi of Rosetta, where, in about 1669, his house was plundered and he lost all his possessions. Abbas wrote many responsa, most of them in Rosetta, and some during his travels. Two volumes are still extant in manuscript. He wrote Kisse Kavod (now at Jews' College, London), a commentary on the minor tractates Kallah, Soferim, and Semaḥot. While still a youth, Abbas corresponded and exchanged poems with Jewish notables in Turkey. As a poet, he was superior to his contemporaries, but did not reach the heights of the Spanish school. He encouraged young poets, correcting their efforts and couching his replies in verse form. His poems, which employ the meter and language of the Spanish poets, express his sufferings and hopes. According to Conforte, Abbas compiled two volumes of poetry. Some of his secular poems were published by Wallenstein (see bibliography), but hundreds of his scattered poems are still in manuscript. In some of his poems, the name MaShYA (an abbreviation for MoShe Yehudah Abbas) appears as an acrostic.


M. Benayahu, in: Zion, 12 (1946–47), 41–42; M. Wallenstein, in: Melilah, 1 (1944), 54–68; 2 (1946), 135–48; 3–4 (1950), 240–54.