Abraham ben Elijah of Vilna

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ABRAHAM BEN ELIJAH OF VILNA

ABRAHAM BEN ELIJAH OF VILNA (1750–1808), talmudic and midrashic scholar. Abraham received most of his education from his father *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, "the Vilna Gaon." He acquired complete command of rabbinic literature and much general knowledge. He had a strikingly critical approach to history and literature. Even before *Zunz, Abraham investigated the nature and development of the Midrashim and had written a valuable introduction to his edition of Midrash Aggadat Bereshit (Vilna, 1802). His work Rav Pe'alim (1894), an alphabetical index of all the midrashic works known to him, contains critical observations on 130 Midrashim. Abraham wrote a universal geography, Gevulot Ereẓ ("The Earth's Boundaries," published anonymously, Berlin, 1821). He composed commentaries on several tractates of the Talmud and on Midrash Rabbah, glosses and notes to the Jerusalem Talmud, a book on weights and measures in the Talmud, another on place-names mentioned in Talmud and Midrash, and several other works, some unpublished. Abraham was active in communal affairs and was one of the parnasim of the Vilna Jewish community. Together with his brother, Judah Loeb, he published several of his father's works, and incorporated in them explanatory material from his father's oral teaching.

bibliography:

J.H. Lewin, Aliyyot Eliyahu (18612), 94 ff.; Yaveẓ, in: Kenesset Yisrael, 1 (1886), 132–3; Kaufmann, in: mgwj, 39 (1895), 136–9; S. Buber, Yeri'ot Shelomo (1896), 3–4 (introd.); S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (19152), 210–2; J.L. Maimon (ed.), Sefer ha-Gra, 1 (1953), 108–10.

[Simha Assaf]