(c. 1170 - 1244)
The ibn Abulafia family settled in Toledo in the 12th
century. A group of their family moved to the Land
of Israel and Syria.
Their descendants had rabbinic impact from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Spanish family became wealthy scholars. The most
prominent was Meir Abulafia. Meir Abulafia was the most authoritative
Spanish talmudist during the first half of the 13th century. In his
thirties he was already one of the three appointed rabbis on the Toledo
Jewish court. (One of the other two was Joseph ibn Migash's son, Meir.)
As the Spanish kings gave the Jews more self-rule, Abulafia played an
important role in establishing ritual regulations for Spanish
He wrote a huge commentary on the Talmud,
written in Aramaic, following the style of the RiF. Although he didn't
cite his predecessors in his work, Abulafia was clearly influenced by
Hai Gaon, Sherira Gaon, Alfasi,
Joseph ibn Migash, Rashi,
Although his work, written in the "Old Spanish
Style," was not popular with the "French-Style" Spanish
talmudists, Abulafia had a great influence on Asher
ben Yechiel, who, in turn, influenced his son, Jacob ben Asher.
His legal insights thus got into the Tur.
Abulafia is also credited with writing the authoritative Torah scroll for Spanish Jewry.
Scholars came from Germany and
North Africa to copy his master copy. He also wrote a book of regulations
about Torah-writing, called Masoret Siyag La-Torah, which became
He is best-known, however, for beginning the first
Maimonidean Controversy over the Guide For the Perplexed while RaMBaM was still alive.
Outraged by Maimonides apparent disbelief in physical resurrection of the dead, Abulafia wrote
a series of letters to the French
Jews in Lunel. To his shock and disappointment, they supported RaMBaM.
When his younger contemporary, Nachmanides,
wanted to renew the controversy (30 years later), Abulafia refused to
to Jewish Heritage