Abraham Ben-David of Posquières (Rabad II)


Abraham Ben-David of Posquières (Rabad II)
(c. 1125–98)
   French talmudist. 12-century Provence, which had flourishing Jewish communities in Narbonne, Béziers, Marseilles, Lunel and Montpel lier, was the centre of a Jewish renaissance. Chief among the talmudic scholars known to later ages as the ‘elders of Narbonne’ or ‘sages of Lunel’ was Abraham ben-David. He was born in Narbonne, and married the daughter of Rabbi Abraham ben-Isaac, the presiding judge of the rabbinical court (av bet din) in that city. On the whole Provençal Jewry was in a fairly tolerable position both socially and economically. They were allowed to pursue their affairs in peace under the protection of the counts of Languedoc. However, they were not free from outrages, especially attacks by the mob on Christian holidays, with ecclesiastical connivance. Abraham ben-David settled in the small community of Posquières. In 1165 he is mentioned as the head of a rabbinical academy there which had already become famous. BENJAMIN OF TUDELA described the school, in which all the poor scholars were entirely supported by Abraham ben-David, who was a man of means.
   In 1172 he was exiled from Posquières in rather confused circumstances, probably as a result of a power struggle between two local noblemen anxious to proclaim their status as ‘protectors’ of the Jews, a valuable source of revenue. He returned some time later. So widely respected was he that his fame reached Cairo, where MAIMONIDES described him as ‘the great rabbi of Posquières’. His influence on contemporary Jewish scholars was based on his commentaries on the Talmud, his Baale ha-Nefesh, an important codification of the Law, and his masterly critical commentaries on the work of ALFASI and Maimonides.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.