Duran, Zemaḥ ben Solomon

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DURAN, ZEMAḤ BEN SOLOMON (15th century), North African rabbinical authority. Ẓemaḥ, the second son of Solomon b. Simeon *Duran, acted together with his brothers Aaron and Simeon as dayyan in *Algiers. It appears from the sources that he was the most active of them and the greatest scholar of the three. In an admonishing responsum written to a certain rabbi he says of himself: "I do not boast of my distinguished ancestry, of my sermons, and of my responsa, of my learning – that I am familiar with all the tannaitic literature and the whole of the Talmud, of the accuracy and profundity of my legal tradition, of my rational reasoning, though my paternal grandfather [Simeon b. Ẓemaḥ *Duran] praised and eulogized me from my childhood for my readiness to grasp the truth." Being rather sickly he went for a cure to Majorca, returning in 1468. He had some knowledge of medicine and a great knowledge of philosophy and Kabbalah, and his attitude toward the latter was positive. His ideology and piety are reflected in the responsum in which he tries to refute the views expressed to him by R. Abraham Conque of Malaga, who, following other philosophers, maintained that perfection and immortality do not depend on fulfilling the commandments and studying the Talmud but rather on the study of sciences and philosophy. Ẓemaḥ tries to show that perfection can only be achieved through the fulfillment of the mitzvot. The seven sciences (see Ibn Ezra on Prov. 9:1; Klatzkin, Thesaurus Philosophicus, I, 292ff.) serve only to teach fear and love of God. They are not the end but only the means. He writes that Maimonides wrote his Guide of the Perplexed to refute the philosophers with philosophical arguments (cf. also his father's responsum, Rashbash no. 3). Ẓemaḥ dealt with the problem of the Marranos (Yakhin u-Vo'az, pt. 1, nos. 75, 125), whom he regarded as Jews from the religious point of view. He wrote responsa which form the first part of his brother Simeon's collection Yakhin u-Vo'az. Some of them are quoted by Joseph *Caro.

[Hirsch Jacob Zimmels]