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Abraham ben Moses Ha-Kohen Ha-Sephardi


ABRAHAM BEN MOSES HA-KOHEN HA-SEPHARDI (late 15th and early 16th centuries), Italian rabbi. A scion of a prominent priestly family in the Spanish city of Cuenca, Abraham went to Italy at about the age of 20 in the wake of the expulsion from Spain. He resided first in Ferrara, then moved to Bologna, where he was appointed rabbi. He became involved in the controversy concerning the litigation between Abraham Raphael Finzi of Bologna and Immanuel di Norzi of Ferrara. The former did not wish the case to be tried in Ferrara, because of Norzi's strong influence there. When R. Abraham *Minz insisted that the Ferrara court had jurisdiction, a controversy ensued. The rabbinical opinions expressed on both sides were published under the title Piskei ha-Ga'on R. Liva mi-Ferrara ve-Rav Avraham Minz (Venice, 1519), and included that of Abraham b. Moses. The dispute was brought before the rabbinical authorities of Poland, who agreed with Abraham b. Moses. His learning won particular praise from R. Jacob *Pollak, the father of Polish talmudic scholarship, and from R. Moses *Isserles (in his supplements to the Sefer Yuḥasin). Attacked by Minz as a "contentious priest" (cf. Hos. 4:4) and a "smooth-talking Sephardi," Abraham countered by deeming the abusive epithets titles of honor and stating at the same time that he had never previously had a dispute with anyone. The rest of his responsa, his commentary on the She'iltot, sermons, and comments on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, remain unpublished. He published an edition of the Sefer Ḥasidim ("Book of the Pious") with an introduction and an index (Venice, 1538). His son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Paloma, was the historian Joseph ha-Kohen.


A. Marx, in: Abhandlungen … H.P. Chajes (1933), 149–93, especially 172–3; Sonne, in: huca, 16 (1941), 48–50, 53–55, 81–84 (Hebrew section).

[Jacob Haberman]

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