Albotini (Albutaini), Judah ben Moses

views updated


ALBOTINI (Albutaini), JUDAH BEN MOSES (d. 1519), kabbalist and commentator on *Maimonides' writings. His father was a scholar in Lisbon. Albotini was one of the "Members of the Yeshivah of Jerusalem" and, in 1509, signed with them an ordinance to exempt scholars from taxes. He succeeded Jacob of Triel as head of the Jerusalem yeshivah, and as such was also head of the Jerusalem rabbis. Albotini was the author of several halakhic and kabbalistic books, all of which have remained in manuscript. His main work is the Yesod Mishneh Torah on Maimonides. The book includes the notation and explanation of the sources which preceded Maimonides. It discusses the foundation of every halakhah and the manner in which it was substantiated by Maimonides. Albotini held that the critics of Maimonides made strange and superfluous suppositions because Maimonides' sources were not accessible to them. He, however, had several sources and manuscripts which were not available to them. Of special interest in his work are the introductions (derushim) which encompass subjects treated by Maimonides. He discusses these extensively in the place where they are first mentioned, analyzes the problems, explains the practical issues, and sums up the subject matter. In addition to the manuscripts of homiletical commentaries on halakhah and aggadah and the ancient authors, he also possessed the correct manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah and chose, according to them, the correct version. In 1518–19, he completed his commentary on Maimonides' Sefer ha-Madda, Sefer Ahavah, and Sefer Zemannim (British Museum, Ms. Add. 19.783). However, from Sefer Nashim, Albotini explained only the laws of marriage and a number of chapters from the laws of divorce (Ms. Deinard 398, j.t.s., Schechter collection, New York). Three additional books on Maimonides, now lost, are (1) Moreh ha-Mishnah, which proposed to explain the veracity of his commentary on the Mishnah; (2) Sefer Yeshu'ot, on Seder Nezikin; Albotini intended to include rulings on money matters by R. Isaac *Alfasi, Maimonides, Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, and Tur Ḥoshen Mishpat; (3) a commentary on Maimonides' commentary on the Mishnah, or more precisely, on the division of the Tumot (uncleannesses) in the introduction to Seder Tohorot (order of cleannesses). Albotini wrote this book in Jerusalem in 1501. Sullam ha-Aliyyah ("The Ladder of Ascent"), a manual for contemplative mystics, is his only known kabbalistic work. Albotini was attracted by Abraham *Abulafia's prophetic kabbalism and by his doctrine of combinations (ẓeruf).

Another work called Mar'ot Elohim ("Visions of God"), which probably dealt with Ma'aseh Bereshit (esoteric doctrine of the creation) and with Ma'aseh Merkavah (mystic speculations on the celestial chariot) is mentioned in Yesod Mishneh Torah. At the beginning of the latter there are also some chapters dealing with kabbalistic subjects: Derush ha-Havayah, Derush Hishtalshelut ha-Nimẓa'im, and Derush ha-Nefesh, which constitute an introduction to Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah.

Albotini's book reflects the cumulative impact of the various layers of ecstatic Kabbalah: Abulafia's Or ha-Sekhel, R. Nathan ben Saadiah's Sha'arei Ẓedek, and R. Isaac of Acre. Sullam ha-Aliyyah was printed by E.Y. Porush in Jerusalem, 1989.


G. Scholem, in: ks, 2 (1925/26), 107, 138–41; idem, Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah (1930), no. 6, 32, 225–30; M. Benayahu, in: Sinai, 36 (1955), 240–74.

About this article

Albotini (Albutaini), Judah ben Moses

Updated About content Print Article