Abraham ben Alexander (Axelrad) of Cologne
ABRAHAM BEN ALEXANDER (Axelrad) OF COLOGNE
ABRAHAM BEN ALEXANDER (Axelrad) OF COLOGNE (13th century), kabbalist. A disciple of R. *Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, he immigrated to Spain where he probably studied with the kabbalist R. Ezra. Solomon b. Abraham *Adret knew him personally in his youth, and tells of his extraordinary oratorical gifts, and the interesting material in his sermons (Responsa no. 548). Abraham wrote a treatise concerning the Tetragrammaton, Keter Shem Tov, in which he tried to achieve a synthesis between the mysticism of the Jewish pietists (Ḥasidim) in Germany based on combinations of letters and numbers, and the Kabbalah of the *Sefirot (with which he had become acquainted in Provence or in Spain). His text is composed of a short summary of his system and represents a kind of cosmological symbolism that relies on the conclusion provided by Abraham *Ibn Ezra in his Sefer ha-Shem, as well as on the statements of the kabbalists R. Ezra and R. Azriel. The work, which is extant in numerous manuscripts, was first published independently in Amsterdam in 1810. It also appeared under the title Ma'amar Peloni Almoni in the collection of writings Likkutim me-Rav Hai Gaon (1798). A new edition was published by Jellinek (1853). In Samson b. Eliezer's work Barukh she-Amar (1795), Keter Shem Tov is attributed to Menahem Ashkenazi, another disciple of Eleazar of Worms. Benjacob is wrong in stating that there is another work entitled Keter Shem Tov by Abraham consisting of a mystic commentary to Psalms, Joshua, and Judges.
In one of the manuscripts found in Jerusalem, Keter Shem Tov is entitled Ma'amar be-Kabbalah Nevu'it, a "Treatise on Prophetic Kabbalah," and this title indicates the role played by this Ashkenazi figure in transmitting certain Ashkenazi modes of thought to Barcelona, where Abraham *Abulafia's prophetic Kabbalah made its first step.
[Moshe Idel (2nd ed.)]
A. Jellinek, Auswahl kabbalistischer Mystik, 1 (1853), 9 (Ger. pt.); idem, in: mgwj, 2 (1853), 78; M. Steinschneider, in: hb, 6 (1863), 126; 8 (1865), 147; idem, in: Jeschurun, 6 (1869), 169; Graetz, Gesch, 7 (19043), 74, n. 2.