Maskileison (Maskil Le-Eitan), Abraham ben Judah Leib

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MASKILEISON (Maskil le-Eitan), ABRAHAM BEN JUDAH LEIB (1788–1848), Russian rabbi and author. Born in Radoshkovich, Belorussia, Maskileison studied under his father, who was av bet din of Khotimsk in the district of Mogilev. Abraham served as av bet din in Novogrudok. Toward the end of his life he moved to Minsk, where he died. He lived in poverty all his life. He was the author of Maskil le-Eitan (Vilna, 1818), novellae to the tractates of orders Mo'ed and Kodashim. His reputation as a result of this work was such that the title of his book (from Ps. 88:1) became his own designation and family name. Be'er Avraham (1844), his novellae to tractate Berakhot and the order Mo'ed, was published by his son Aaron. In the introduction Abraham lists the seven aims of the work among which were to give explanations of those passages of Talmud in which the tosafists found difficulties, an exposition of those passages of Rashi where the tosafists disagree with him, and a profound examination of those laws of Maimonides for which the commentators were unable to find sources.

Some of his works were published posthumously: Naḥal Eitan (1855), published by his son Naphtali, contains novellae on the first two parts of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah as well as novellae by Maskileison's brother Moses Nisan, compiled when he was 16. Mizpeh Eitan, novellae and glosses to tractates of the Talmud, was published in the Zhitomir edition of the Talmud (1858–64). It was subsequently republished in the Vilna Talmud with additional material to the author's manuscript entitled Tosefet Merubbah. Yad Avraham (Vilna, 1880) is on the Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah. His glosses and novellae on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah were assembled from various manuscripts and collected in the Yad ha-Hazakah (1900) under the title Yad Eitan. Comments and novellae on the Ein Ya'akov were assembled in Ahavat Eitan (1883–84). His notes on the Sifrei were published in S. Luria's edition (1866).

His sons included Aaron, Moses Nisan, and Naphtali. moses nisan was av bet din of the community of Shumiachi and author of the Ḥikkrei Halakhot (1875), consisting of 32 halakhic studies, pilpulim, and novellae. Particularly well known was naphtali (1829–1897), a book dealer and an accomplished scribe and poet, to both talmudists and maskilim. His main work is his critical edition, with additions, of the Seder ha-Dorot (1877–82) of Jehiel *Heilprin. Aaron's son was abraham isaac maskileison (1840–1905), born in Smolevichi, where in 1874 he was appointed rabbi, an office he held for 15 years. He then served in Haslovich. He was a member of Ḥovevei Zion. In 1904 he was appointed rabbi of Stoypitz where he remained until his death. He left works in manuscript which were lost. Reuven *Katz, the chief rabbi of Petaḥ Tikvah, was his son-in-law.


N. Maskileison, in: A. Maskileison, Naḥal Eitan (1855), 4–8 (introd.); Fuenn, Keneset, 41; B.Z. Eisenstadt, Rabbanei Minsk ve-Ḥakhameha (1899), 27, 43, 67f.; Z. Harkavy, Le-Ḥeker Misḥpahot (19532), 5–15; R. Katz, in: A. Maskileison, Maskil le-Eitan (19662), introd.; Yahadut Lita, 3 (1967), 71; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 431f.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]