Halberstadt, Abraham ben Menahem Menke

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HALBERSTADT, ABRAHAM BEN MENAHEM MENKE (d. 1782), German rabbi. Halberstadt studied under his father who was dayyan of Halberstadt, as well as under Jonathan *Eybeschuetz. In 1733 he published the Shulḥan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah in Amsterdam. In addition to his talmudic learning he acquired a profound knowledge of grammar, mathematics, and astronomy. In his interesting correspondence with his Berlin friend Jeremiah (who has been identified either with Jeremiah b. Naphtali Hirsch of Halberstadt or with Jeremiah b. Ephraim Segal who died in 1788), he expresses his views on the problems of contemporary German Jewry. In a letter written in 1774 he stresses the importance of the study of grammar and the Bible, and in another letter the next year he expresses his admiration for Moses *Mendelssohn and N.H. *Wessely, and suggests that the latter's Yein Levanon be used by rabbis as a basis for their sermons. He affirmed that the ignorance of grammar and secular subjects by many rabbis was the cause for their inability to understand correctly certain passages of the Talmud. In a letter in 1770, while emphasizing that all the accusations against Eybeschuetz were baseless, he nevertheless severely censured Eybeschuetz' careless conduct, and condemned the negative character of many of his pupils. His glosses to the Talmud, Penei Avraham, have remained in manuscript. He published the Ba'alei Nefesh (Berlin 1762) of *Abraham b. David (Rabad), adding to it glosses published in Venice (1741). He died in Berlin.


B.H. Auerbach, Geschichte der israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt (1866), 78, 98ff., 187–97; L. Landshuth, Toledot Anshei ha-Shem, 1 (1883), 120.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]