David ben Manasseh Darshan

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DAVID BEN MANASSEH DARSHAN

DAVID BEN MANASSEH DARSHAN (16th century), preacher and author in Poland. He was a pupil of *Isaac b. Bezalel, Moses *Isserles, and Solomon *Luria. In 1555, David visited Italy, and traveled among the communities there. He subsequently returned to Cracow, where he gained his livelihood by various means, occupying, as a lowly preacher, a humble and solitary position in Jewish society. Among other functions, he answered queries on treating the sick and wrote amulets and letters. David left for posterity a complete system for preserving the methods of biblical exposition which he practiced himself. He also drew up a program of study for yeshivot and for revising their administration, which was revolutionary for his day. He proposed establishing an original type of bet midrash where he himself would be available to deal with the problems of all who turned to him in order to dispense with the usual preoccupation with authority and prestige customary in the yeshivah. He undertook to give daily instruction on a text agreed upon with his hearers to people who were not regular Torah students and to accept the unlettered masses. Study in this yeshivah would be centered around a library with over 400 volumes which David had collected and was ready to donate to the proposed bet midrash. Another innovation he proposed was the recording and collection of the discussions among the scholars. David's utopian plan did not materialize, but it gives an interesting picture of the organization of the yeshivah in his day and the circles which frequented it. His two published works are Shir ha-Ma'alot le-David (Cracow, 1571), which contains references to several of his unpublished works, and Ketav Hitnaẓẓelut le-Darshanim (Lublin, 1574).

bibliography:

H.H. Ben-Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), index.

[Natan Efrati]