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Bidding Information
Lot #    13063
Auction End Date    1/24/2006 11:25:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Milhemet Mitzvah
Title (Hebrew)   
Author    [Polemic] R. Solomon ben Simeon Duran (Rashbash)
City    Piotrkow
Publisher    Henikh Henekh Falman
Publication Date    1910
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   39 pp., octavo, 180:100 mm., nice margins, usual age staining. A good copy bound in later boards.
   Polemic work defending the sages of the Talmud against their detractors and critical of Christianity by R. Solomon ben Simeon Duran (Rashbash). The title page states that it is against those arrogant men, wicked men, who think to oppose the sages of the Talmud, to cast aspersion upon the holy ones, but the defect is theirs. Furthermore, R. Duran intends to defend the rabbis from their opponents, to demonstrate to the public the righteousness of their judgments, the wisdom of their statements in the aggadah, and to the errors of the apikorsim. It begins Iggeret Milhemet Mitzvah, to fight the war of the mitzvot and to break the teeth of the apikorsim. The text follows, in a single column in square letters. . In Milhemet Mitzvah, written in 1438, with his fathers authorization, R. duran repulsed the accusations against the Talmud made by the apostate Joshua Lorki (Geronimo de Santa Fé) and even made counterattacks against the Christian clergy. He showed that Lorki's accusation that the Talmud favored immorality was wrong, and on the contrary that it teaches a high standard of morality and chastity; and that it was the Christian clerical circles who indulged in immoral conduct to such an extent that it became known by the name "peccato dei frati." After defending the halakhic parts of the Talmud he proceeded to explain the aggadot attacked by Lorki. In R. Durans view (as expressed already by R. Jehiel b. Joseph of Paris and by Nahmanides in their disputations) they had no binding force. R. Solomon ben Simeon Duran, (Rashbash, c. 14001467), was a noted North African rabbinical authority; son of R. Simeon ben Zemah Duran. Rashbash was born in Algiers, but no details are known of his youth. His education embraced not only rabbinical knowledge but also science, medicine, and philosophy. It appears from his responsa that he joined his father's bet din at an early age and was the head of the yeshivah. Some of his responsa were written during the lifetime of his father. In his youth he wrote a rhetorical epistle (melizah) to Nathan Najjar in Constantine (Rashbash, no. 259) using talmudic idioms, style, and language (the use of this kind of melizah is characteristic of him). His letter made a deep impression upon Najjar as can be seen from his reply in which the following passage occurs: "My son, my son, my heart was filled with anxiety for I said 'Who will sit on the throne of my master the rabbi, your father?'... Now, however, I know that Solomon, his son, will reign after him and will sit upon his throne" (cf. I Kings, 1:13, 17, 30). After his father's death Solomon was appointed rabbi of Algiers. He seems to have also been the head of a yeshivah and some of his pupils were mentioned by name. His religious and general outlook can be derived from his responsa. Thus when asked whether the dialogue of Balaam and his ass (Num. 22:28), Jacob's wrestling with the angel (Gen. 32:25), and the visit of the angels to Abraham (Gen. 18:1ff.) took place in reality or were dreams, his reply was that all were real events, as Nahmanides had already stated (Rashbash, no. 44). In responsum no. 3 he strongly criticized Haggai b. Alzuk in Mostaganem, who maintained that perfection of the soul could be achieved by perfection of the intellect and that aliyah to Erez Israel had no effect. In his view settling in Erez Israel is a great mitzvah, particularly as many religious commands concern only Erez Israel. With regard to the question whether the world will be destroyed or not, he showed that the Talmud and Nahmanides decided in the affirmative, while Maimonides' view was in the negative. Solomon thought that while the belief in creation ex nihilo is binding, belief in the ultimate destruction of the world is not; it is left to one's own discretion (responsum no. 436). Concerning the Kabbalah he said of himself (no. 36): "I am not one of its members" and expressed his indignation at the doctrine of the ten Sefirot (no. 188). His decisions were quoted by later authorities (including R. Joseph Caro and R. Moses Trani).

His other works are: Teshuvot Ha-Rashbash (Leghorn, 1742), cited above, which deal not only with the legal matters but also with some philosophical problems and contain explanations of some biblical and talmudic passages; Tikkun Soferim, dealing with contracts together with Yavin Shemuah of his father (ibid., 1744); and The elegy Shamayim Laveshu Kadrut. The bibliographers mention also Melizah le-ha-Rashbash; in fact, this melizah is contained in his responsum no. 259 (Kerem Hemed, 9 (1856), 110ff.).

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   BE mem 2015; EJ; CD-EPI 0125570
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Listing Classification
20th Century:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Polemics:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica