Solomon ben Aaron

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SOLOMON BEN AARON

SOLOMON BEN AARON (Solomon Yedidya ; 1670(?)–1745), prominent Karaite scholar, author, and spiritual leader from Lithuania. Born in Poswol, he moved after 1707 to Troki. He was a teacher of Torah and had many disciples. In 1710 as a result of a plague, which annihilated more than half of the Karaite population of Lithuania, he lost his wife and children and moved to Vilna, which had become the temporary residence of Karaites during the plague and where he served as the head of the Karaite bet din. In Vilna he was friendly with Rabbanite Jews, such as Joshua Heschel and Aryeh Leib Shapira, with whom he corresponded. In 1719 he returned to Troki and became head of the community until the end of his life. He knew Latin, Polish, and Rabbanite literature. Solomon corresponded with Karaite worthies and community leaders from Jerusalem, Constantinople, Damascus, and Lithuania-Poland on learned and community subjects. In 1696/7 Solomon was invited by Prof. Puffendorf, rector of Riga University (then under Swedish control), to come there to expound the Karaite doctrines. He was also asked to write a work about the schism between Karaites and Rabbanites. He wrote a book Apiryon Asah Lo, which explains in its first part the commandments according to the doctrines of the Karaites and their differences from those of Rabbanites. The second part contains an anti-Rabbanite polemic. Without any critical approach Solomon introduces the traditional apologetic Karaite claim that the split between Rabbanism and Karaism had begun in the period of the Second Temple. The shortened version of this book was first published by A. Neubauer, Aus der Petersburger Bibliothek, Leipzig, (1866), 4–29 (later edition: J. Algamil (ed.), 2000). He wrote several works: Ḥanokh la-Na'ar and Rakh va-Tov (preserved in mss in various libraries) – grammatical treatises; Leḥem She'arim (ios A 3, jnul mic. 52475) – polemics between Karaites and Rabbanites by way of questions and answers; Migdal Oz (ios A 162; jnul mic. 52389) – anti-Christian polemics, a kind of guide for those, who are forced to dispute with Christians. He wrote also liturgical poems in Hebrew and the Karaite language, of which some were incorporated in the Karaite siddur.

bibliography:

G. Akhiezer and D. Shapira, Peamim, 89 (2001), 41–42; A. Gottlober, Bikkoret le-Toledot ha-Kara'im (1865), 201; A. Neubauer, Aus der Petersburger Bibliothek (1866), 78–79; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index, 1588; M. Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, (2003), index.

[Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)]

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