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Horowitz, Shabbetai Sheftel ben Akiva


HOROWITZ, SHABBETAI SHEFTEL BEN AKIVA (c. 1561–1619), author of kabbalistic works. Horowitz was a son of Akiva, called "the holy," and a cousin of Isaiah *Horowitz, author of Shenei Luḥot ha-Berit. He was born in Prague where he practiced as a physician. Considering Kabbalah the only source of human happiness, he sought to make this esoteric teaching accessible to many, and had many disciples. He rejected the philosophy of religion, attaching importance only to *Maimonides. Although he did not know him personally, he declared Moses *Cordovero, the kabbalist, to be his chief teacher, comparing him to Maimonides. Horowitz' writing is based on the ideas of Cordovero and he apologized if he sometimes added something. The main addition concerns his detailed exposition of the doctrine of ẓimẓum ("withdrawal") which he took over from Isaac Luria's teaching basing himself (without acknowledgment) on the version of this doctrine preserved by *Joseph ibn Tabul.

Horowitz' works are (1) Shefa Tal (whose title recalls his name Sheftel; Hanau, 1612), his major kabbalistic work, with commendations by, among others, Isaiah Horowitz and Ephraim *Luntschits. The central feature of the book is the Iggeret ha-Te'amim of the kabbalist Aaron Abraham b. Baruch Simeon ha-Levi. This is accompanied by a short commentary, Shefa, and a detailed one, Tal, which together are called Petaḥ Einayim; (2) Nishmat Shabbetai ha-Levi (Prague, 1616), a continuation and, according to Horowitz, an inseparable part of the former work, also carrying the approbations of the same two scholars. It deals essentially with the kabbalistic teaching about the soul. In the preface, Horowitz says that this work is based on "four pillars" of the Kabbalah; namely, Moses, *Simeon b. Yoḥai, and the later kabbalists *Naḥmanides and Elijah b. Moses de *Vidas. The commentary to Samuel Gallico's Asis Rimmonim, which Fuerst and Benjacob (Oẓar 485 no. 889) attribute to Horowitz and which they say was published in Korets in 1793 with the title Pelaḥ ha-Rimmon, was actually written by Mordecai b. Jacob of Prague. It is titled Pa'amon ve-Rimmon and was published in 1786 in Korets (see Benjacob, Oẓar, 492 no. 1043; and Friedberg, Eked, 3 (1954), 806 no. 989). In the preface to Shefa Tal, Horowitz refers to his unpublished commentary to Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed. He died in Prague.


Zunz, Gesch, 292, no. 173; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 2241–42 nos. 6865–66; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot Mishpaḥat Horowitz (19282), 27.

[Samuel Abba Horodezky]

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