Joseph ibn Ṭabūl

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JOSEPH IBN ṬABŪL (c. 1545–beginning 17th century), kabbalist and one of the foremost students of R. Isaac *Luria. He came from North Africa (Maghreb, Ma'arav) and was therefore called "Joseph ha-Ma'aravi." He went to Safed in its most flourishing period and joined the circle of the disciples of Luria in 1570. After Luria's death, Ibn Ṭabūl remained in Safed and began to spread his teacher's doctrines. Tension grew between him and Ḥayyim *Vital. In his old age he went to Egypt and remained there for several years. Apparently at the beginning of the 17th century he returned to Ereẓ Israel and died in Hebron. His expositions on the Lurianic system served as one of the primary sources through which it became known in kabbalistic circles. It is preserved in many manuscripts and in time it was given the name (not by the author) Derush Ḥefẓi-Bah, and it was even attributed to his rival Ḥayyim Vital, under whose name the book was published when included in Simḥat Kohen by Masʿūd ha-Kohen al-Ḥaddād (Jerusalem, 1921). In addition, several of Ibn Ṭabūl's kabbalistic works, yiḥudim (hymns on the unity of God), sermons, and several commentaries on different portions of the *Zohar, including on the Idra, have been preserved in manuscript. Toward the end of his life, the question was raised if he had the right to leave the *Musta'arabi community (to which he belonged throughout his life) in order to join the Sephardi community. His students in Kabbalah included R. Samuel ben Sid and R. *Israel Benjamin i.


A.L. Frumkin, Toledot Ḥakhmei Yerushalayim, 1, p. 15; G. Scholem, in: Zion, 5 (1940), 148–60.

[Gershom Scholem]