Abudarham, David ben Joseph

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ABUDARHAM, DAVID BEN JOSEPH (14th century), liturgical commentator in Spain, author of Sefer Abudarham, written in 1340 in Seville. Abudarham came from a distinguished family, and apparently an earlier namesake was a communal leader in Toledo. Abudarham was moved to write his book, like *Asher b. Saul of Lunel before him, because "the customs connected with prayer have become varied from one country to another, and most of the people do not understand the words of the prayers, nor do they know the correct ritual procedures and the reasons for them." The book is based on the Talmud and the decisions of the geonim, and on the early and later commentators. It abounds in source material of Spanish, Provencal, French, and Ashkenazi origins, not all of which has otherwise survived. Abudarham made extensive use of the prayer book of Saadiah Gaon, and it seems he was the last to see and use an original of this book. He also utilized the Manhig of *Abraham b. Nathan ha-Yarḥi of Lunel and the Minhagot of Asher b. Saul, the legal dicta of *Asher b. Jehiel, and the Turim. Some scholars think he was a disciple of *Jacob b. Asher, author of the Turim. Abudarham commented upon the prayers in great detail and traced the variations in custom in different countries. He included a commentary on the Passover Haggadah, rules of intercalation, the order of weekly pentateuchal readings and haftarot for the entire year, and calendrical and astronomical tables. Abudarham appended to his book rules governing benedictions, dividing them into nine sections, along with their interpretation and explanation. His book was first published in Lisbon in 1490 and has since been republished frequently. H.J. Ehrenreich began an edition of it in Klausenberg in 1927, based upon a different manuscript together with an extensive commentary, but did not complete it. An edition, known as Abudarham ha-Shalem with variant readings, according to the same manuscript, introduction, and supercommentary, by S.A. Wertheimer, was published in Jerusalem (1959, 1963) by his grandson. However, a comprehensive critical edition of this book is still lacking. Abudarham also wrote a commentary on liturgy for the Day of Atonement ascribed to *Yose b. Yose, as well as on other liturgical poems (published under the title of Tashlum Abudarham).


Michael, Or, no. 729; A.L. Prinz (ed.), Tashlum Abudarham (1900), introd.; Ḥ. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 2 (1947), 247–50; A.J. Wertheimer (ed.), Abudarham ha-Shalem (19632), introd., 393–6.

[Zvi Avneri]

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