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Yosef ibn Abitur

Yosef ibn Abitur (fl. 10th c.) was a Spanish rabbi, scholar, and paytan. He was a student of Moses ben Hanoch. Ibn Abitur's poems, mostly unpublished, number over a thousand. He wrote many Teshuvas, some of which are extant. He also wrote a commentary on the Bible in Hebrew. Abitur was from a very prestigious Spanish family from the city of Mérida. His great great grandfather was a communal and Rabbinic leader. When Moses ben Hanoch's son Hanoch was chosen to succeed his father, Abitur felt compelled to leave Spain and travel to the Yeshivas in Babel. On his way he stopped in Egypt before arriving in Baghdad. According to the medival history Sefer ha-Qabbalah, during his stay in Egypt, Ibn Abitur produced an Arabic translation of the Talmud for the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Llah. He died in Damascus.


קרובות לתענית אסתר | Ḳerovot for Taanit Esther by Yosef ibn Abitur (ca. 10th c.) with other seliḥot arranged by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: 19 Feb 2023 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Yosef ibn Abitur |

The poetic genre known as qerovot, brief poems woven throughout the repetition of the weekday Amidah, is nowadays most closely associated with Elazar haḲalir’s Purim “Ḳrovetz“, a majestically interwoven piece of piyyut if ever there was one. But there are many other ḳerovot that have historically been recited, many of which were discovered in the Cairo Geniza. This set of ḳerovot, composed by the prolific Spanish paytan Yosef ibn Abitur, is meant to be included within the Shaḥarit amidah for Ta’anit Esther, the fast day before Purim. Consequently, it only goes up to the sixth blessing (the blessing for forgiveness) and concludes by leading directly into Seliḥot, which (before R. Yosef Karo’s standardization of the liturgy, and even now among some Western Ashkenazim) were inserted into the aforementioned blessing. In order to demonstrate this structure on a large scale, the editor here has compiled a full Shaḥarit repetition, nusaḥ Ashkenaz, incorporating the qerovot of Yosef ibn Abitur as well as the three seliḥot piyyutim of the Ashkenazi rite. . . .

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