Gombiner, Abraham Abele ben Ḥayyim Ha-Levi

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GOMBINER, ABRAHAM ABELE BEN ḤAYYIM HA-LEVI (c. 1637–1683), Polish rabbi. After the death of his parents during the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648, Abraham left his birthplace, Gombin. In 1655 he went to Lithuania, and there studied with his relative, Jacob Isaac Gombiner. Later he went to Kalisz, where he was appointed head of the yeshivah and dayyan of the bet din. Abraham is best known for his Magen Avraham (Dyhernfurth, 1692), a commentary on the Shulḥan Arukh Oraḥ Ḥayyim, highly esteemed throughout Poland and Germany by scholars who followed it in their halakhic decisions, at times against the opinions of other codifiers. In his work Abraham reveals his acumen, depth of insight, and comprehensive knowledge of the entire halakhic literature. Abraham's main purpose was to reach a compromise between the decisions of Joseph *Caro and the glosses of Moses *Isserles, but he upholds the latter where no compromise can be arrived at. He regarded all Jewish customs as sacred and endeavored to justify them even where they were at variance with the views of the codifiers. He also thought highly of the Zohar and of the kabbalists Isaac Luria and R. Isaiah Horowitz, occasionally accepting their decision against that of the codifiers. Magen Avraham is written in a terse style, which scholars were at times hard put to understand until the appearance of R. Samuel ha-Levi *Kolin's extensive commentary, Maḥaẓit ha-Shekel.

Abraham is also the author of Zayit Ra'anan (Dessau, 1704), a commentary on the Yalkut Shimoni, published together with some of his homilies on Genesis, Shemen Sason. Zayit Ra'anan was also published in abridged form in the margins of the Yalkut, in the 1876 edition and in all subsequent editions. His short commentary on the Tosefta of Nezikin was published by his grandson under the title Magen Avraham at the end of the Leḥem ha-Panim (Amsterdam, 1732) of his son-in-law, Moses Jekuthiel Kaufmann. A commentary to Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes was attributed in error to him, having in fact been taken from the Beit Avraham of Abraham b. Samuel *Gedaliah.


Landshuth, Ammudei, 2; Fuenn, Keneset, 17, s.v.Avraham b. Ḥayyim ha-Levi Gombiner; M. Freudenthal, Aus der Heimat Mendelssohns (1900), 20f.; S. Knoebil, Toledot Gedolei Hora'ah (1927), 99–103; Ḥ. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 164–72; J.L. Maimon, in: Y. Raphael (ed.), Rabbi Yosef Caro (Heb., 1969), 62f.; M. Strashun, Mivḥar Ketavim (1969), 323–3.

[Shmuel Ashkenazi]

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