Alba, Jacob di

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ALBA, JACOB DI (late 16th–early 17th century), preacher and rabbi in Florence. Toledot Ya'akov (Venice, 1609) is a collection of his sermons. In the introduction, he gives details of his life, mentioning that he had traveled for many years and lived for a long time in Constantinople, before being appointed preacher of the Jewish community of Florence. The structural basis of his homilies is to begin with a biblical verse, then to quote a passage from the Talmud or the Midrash which often is only slightly connected to the verse, the exordium to the body of the homily in which he raises a number of rhetorical questions regarding the talmudic passage, and the main part of the sermon in which the questions are answered. His method is in the tradition of R. Moses *Alshekh, the famous preacher of Safed. The book is arranged according to the weekly pentateuchal readings and includes references to the various festivals in relation to the nearest Sabbath; there are no special sermons for the holy days. Some of the readings are discussed in two different sermons. Though Jacob availed himself of certain philosophical terms in his sermons, he was not oriented toward philosophical preaching; nor was he influenced by the Kabbalah. His sermons usually are in the regular rabbinic tradition.