Between the intellectual Jewish families that spread through Spain , Portugal , Holland and Italy was found the ABOAB family with various individuals that called attention because of their knowledge. It is not easy to separate the various family branches and go back to its origins. The principal difficulty is that various members of that branch had the same first name, which really complicates the research. I pretend, through this work, to justly dismember this family branch through the research previously realized by others and through constant information in literature regarding this matter.
With great frequency we find the name ISAAC ABOAB; initially as author of the famous work "Candlestick of Light" (MENORAH HAMAOR), who we are going to name Isaac Aboab I. He lived around the year 1320 in the city of Toledo , where he probably wrote the quoted book, that according to his own words, it rendered public teachings and guidance for a moral vision of humanity.
The book was initially concerned with diverse parts of the Hagadá, with a negligent analysis of the Talmud, in which he makes short commentaries. It is divided in seven (candles) which are subdivided in "Principal Parts" these ones in "Divisions" and later ones in "Chapters" of which there are 338.
The first "Candles regarding how to prevent opulence, the second about how to prevent worthless speeches, the third is about the obedience of the commandments, the fourth about the study of the law, the fifth the expiation, the sixth concerning peace and the seventh about humility.
The extraordinary success of that work is testified by the many editions, amongst them, three in Venezuela (1544,1595 and 1623), Mantua 1563, Frankfurt 1687, Amsterdam 1700 and 1722; one manuscript of the book was found in Oxford .
The book penetrated the Jewish popular circles unlike any other, and primarily because of the German translation it became a reference book that shouldn't be missing in any Jewish family. It was indicated primarily for women because its editing style and its not elaborated religiousness.
Because of its style, composition and description of moral and religious behavior it has preference over the Talmud, which is much more complicated for reference.
In its introduction, the author names two more books written by him, the first one, an organization of all the Jewish Commandments and the second, commentaries of diverse prayers and blessings. Such works have disappeared.
More important in admiration and culture then the prior is ISAAC ABOAB II, the last Gaon of Castela, who had as friend and student Don Isaac Abarbanel.
He was born around 1433 and attended the Talmud school of Gaon Rabbi Isaac Ampanton of which was successor as professor. A few months before the dispersion of Spaniard Jews, he obtained authorization from the King Joăo II for 29 compatriots and himself to settle in Portugal . The conditions negotiated were very favorable and Rabbi Isaac still lived peaceful at Porto for half a year dying, in the month of Adar 1493, seven months after the dispersion. His student Abraham Sacut, author of the book Juchassim, wrote a farewell speech based on Exodus 23.20. Isaac Aboab left an appreciable number of young followers who in any decision they would take , they would proudly present themselves as his students. To that group belong Joseph and Schemtob Uziel , Joseph Peso, Samuel Serralvo (his son-in-law) and Jacob Berb.
Issac Aboab II , wrote in his youth the book "Correnta Pischon" containing clarifications about difficult details of the Bible and the Talmud. The book was printed by his son Jacob. (Note: I believe it was Jacob who went to Constantinopla and there, published the book). That strange work was printed in Constantinopla by Eliezer Soncino and had a preface by Salomo Marsaltob and an epilogue by the son of Jacob.
Subsequently, Isaac Aboab wrote a superb commentary about the commentary of Nachminides regarding the Pentateuco, which was printed in conjunction in Venice (1548), Cracovia (1587) and Wilhemdorf (1713).
Isaac Aboab later wrote novels denominated Jebamot, Gittin, Kidduschin and Baba Mezia, which were mentioned in a nomologia by Immanuel Aboab.
Rabbi Joseph Karo had in his hands commentaries of Isaac Aboab, regarding great part of the Orach Chajim, Azulai also saw manuscripts of that work.
Rabbi Davis Ibn Simra had in his hands manuscripts regarding Jore Dea.
Rabbi Joseph Ibn Leb had in hand manuscripts regarding Goschem Mischpat. Also, Jacob, son of Isaac Aboab, mentions with terms similar to those of Nehar Pischon, commentaries about Pentateuco as well as many judicial similarities.
Isaac Aboab II. Left besides the mentioned son of Jacob, another older son named Abraham. He lived under the protection of the Portuguese King in Porto , and raised in his home premature orphan grandson, Immanuel Aboab, borne in 1555, whose father is probably the Isaac mentioned in the Nomologia. When the inquisition arrived in Portugal , Immanuel migrated to Italy and later found many andacas sheltered in the homes of family in Venice . In 1603 in front of the senate and the Dodge Grimani, he gave a speech that had great repercussion regarding the fidelity of the Jews. In 1607 he gave another speech in front of Horacio Del Monte, General of the Republic of Venice.
His knowledge of the Talmud, cabalistic, linguistic, philosophy and astronomy are testified in his work " Nomologia or legal speeches ", these works he produced between the years 1615 and 1625 in Spanish. Only because of pressure from friends was that he finally took his work to the public. Ho wasn't destined to see it published while alive, he died in 1628, and his work was published the following year at the expense of his heirs and friends. This precious book was published in Amsterdam.
The "Nomologia"in which the author wants to prove the truth of the oral laws is divided in two books. The first speaks of the necessity and utility of the oral laws, this is, the free will and realization of the human being. It also talks about the contradictions between the written and spoken laws; the solution to these contradiction the impossibility to obey the written law without knowledge to the oral laws, new and old chronology and proof of the calculation of the Jewish time.
The second book contains the history of the oral laws from Moses to more recent times; how Moses obtained the laws and taught them, the disposition to the Israelis in the desert according to Jewish interpretation, the correspondence with Horacio Del Monte regarding the nature of the angels, opinions about prophesies, the chain of events from Josue to Ezra, the Alto Sinedrio and his attributions, the un-authenticated apocryphal letter of Jeremias, diverse translations of the Bible, answers to aggressive criticism to the Talmud, summary of the Jewish literary history from the beginning to Joseph Karo, principally based in the book of Cabala and Juchasin.
His work emits a profound belief as well as an intense solidarity in relation to the inflicted suffering to the Israeli people of that time. Admirable are his observations and analysis in relation to the destiny of various diverse studies of Spain and Portugal. His work was very praised by Isaac Cardoso, Samuel Jachja, Samuel Aboab, David Neto and Mose Chagis.
Immanuel Aboab was also looking forward to produce and publish a permanent calendar, together with a work of geography. He also wanted to move to Palestine and there write a work naned 'FORTATITUM VEL PROPUGNAQULLUM VERITATES" (DEFENSE OF TRUTH), in which he wanted to destroy the attacks to the Talmud and prove the insanity of those attacks.
On one occasion of a fictitious dialog between himself and a Christian priest, he speaks of the working class and says that in general they are riffraff of the compatriots and they prove it by their lifestyle, which he knows by personal experience. Regarding that matter he intends to write a book. "Kingdom Of Wisdom".
Premature death seems to have destroyed all those objectives. And his regretful that the "Nomologia"didn't have much prestige among future generations.
To Portugal also arrived the trace of another Isaac Aboab, called the III, or more often called by his mother's maiden name, Isaac Aboab da Fonseca. His biography is found in Henrique de Castro and recently in the newspaper Hagaren. He is descendent of Isaac Aboab II and was born in the year 1605 in Castro Daire, Portugal. His father David accompanied by his wife Isabel da Fonseca (who by the was had his only son at the age of 51), abandoned their home in Portugal to escape the inquisition and went to Amsterdam, after a short stay in France. David died shortly after his mother took his son, then only 7 years old, to the school of Isaak Uziel, where in the company of R. Menasse Bem Israel, was educated on Jewish and secular studies.
His studies had excellent results, so that, in the year of 1626, at the age of 21, he was nominated CHACHAM (scholar) of the Beth Israel community. In that position, he was member of the Rabbinic school, to which Saul Levi Moreira, David Pardo and Menasse Ben Israel were also members as directors. He was also responsible for the teaching of the Hebrew language and the Talmud. His speeches and preaching were very concurred.
During 1642 he migrated to Brazil which at the time belong to Holland and there he was contracted by the Pernambuco community as Chacham (scholar), there he stayed until 1945, between ferocious combats hindered by the Portuguese and the Hollandaise.
During that war, a great numbers of Jew inhabitants participated in combat showing great heroism. Isaac Aboab would give them moral support, marvel them with his preaching and would transmit hope in the salvation through these preaching. The Portuguese would end victorious and Isaac Aboab again had to travel the road to exile, returning to Amsterdam. Because of this experience, he compiled all his war experiences in a book. In Amsterdam, once again, was nominated Chacham and exercise the function of Advisor to the Rabbinate and professor of Talmud. He was a member of the court that excommunicated Espinoza. Ten years later (1666) he arduously defended Sabatai Zvi. In 1670 he gave impulse for today's big synagogue, at the inauguration (1675) he pronounced the festive speech.
His preaching were rich and very accessible to the people. Aboab was a great poet and involved with the sciences. He produced a Spanish translation and commentaries about the Pentateuco (legal philosophy), a work with similar content to Nomologia of Immanuel Aboab . He also wrote the poem "Triumph of Moses" in Hebrew; a Hebraic translation of a cabalistic piece in Spain written by Abraham de Herrera; 886 preaching pronounces in different occasions; a book of race in Hebrew and Spanish (Amsterdam 1687).
He also left a manuscript which analyzes the doubt whether the inflicted punishment to a sinner stays after his death for always. In opposition to the opinions of R. Saul Levi Moreira, Schemaja de Modena e Asrja Figo, the Rabis of Venice, the author decides by hypothesis that the punishment stays inflicted.
The manuscript (1648) drafted in Amsterdam is found in the Sussexiana library in England. Another manuscript pertaining to Hebraic grammar was also written by him in 1647. He also wrote countless Approvals.
During his last years he had difficulty with his vision. He died at the age of 88 in the shabat 2nd day of Adar (April, 4, 1693)
In his dying bed he nominated his successor the Chacham Jacob Sasportas who was sworn in one day after his death.
Many poems, speeches and honors that were conferred to him, attests to the respect and admiration he possessed in all circles. His library contained 18 Hebraic manuscripts, 373 Hebraic books and 53 books in other languages.
Together with Aboab is buried his first wife Esther, who died on Adar 28 (March 1, 1669), near to her rest his second wife Sarah, who died on 1 Kislev (November 13, 1689). Aboab left several sons and one daughter (Judith) who married Daniel Berillos in Amsterdam. This gentleman was well versed in Jewish writings, and was devoted to the preaching, taught and was a member of the school directorship. He wrote a book in Hebrew that describes the stay of Adam in Paradise. A poem written by him and his father-in-law is cited in a book of Joseph Penso (Amsterdam 1673). Daniel Berillos died in 1701 and his wife Judith in 1686.
A branch of the Aboab family migrated to Hamburg; Abraham Aboab was the founder of the local synagogue (Keter Torá). Years later changed his residence to Venice where he died in 1642. His religious behavior and his charity works are cited in delivered speeches.
Abraham Aboab left 4 children. The oldest, Samuel, was born in 1610 in Hamburg and was taught by the Rabbi Mose ben Arroyo. His talmudic studies were directed by Rabbi David Frankos of Venice who considered him his favorite student. Rabbi David died in 1923 and his daughter Massaltob was married to Samuel. At that time he was 18 years old and the wedding party took the Aboab family to Venice. For a long time he was rabbi in Verona and afterwards, from 1650 on, he performed this same function in Venice, where he always had a great number of students and enjoyed general admiration. His talmudic knowledge were enormous and frequently other scholars would resort to him for advice. He was presented with the honored name of Rabbi Samuel Ben Abraham comparing him to another great, the Rabbi Solomo Ben Adret.
In the year of 1669 when Aboab was 60 years old he became gravely ill. Still he was not keep from consultations and was delighted with the study of the Torá continuos days and nights. Like a great thinker, he accompanied all events with great interest, primarily the ones related to Judaism. In 1689 he received a visit from Rabbi Zwi Aschkenazi who was passing through Venice.
During his eightieth year of life he isolated himself from the community. He died in 1 of Elul (August 22, 1649) at the age of 84. The speech given at the bank of the multitude was done by Bonjamin Kohn, rabbi in Reggia, and the eulogy is cited in the literature written by Josua Ben David Levi, rabbi in Venice.
From two writings left by him, we can first mention one published in Venice (1702), that emphasizes the juridical opinions pronounced by him while alive.
In the introduction done by his son Jacob, his life is described with many details. The work contains 377 juridical decisions that Samuel Aboab sent to Verone, Venice, England and Safed.
These are written in letter form. Few are dated and signature is almost always missing. The principal decisions are number 45 (children forced to convert to another religion); number 66 (about a legate for the poor in Palestine) and number 138 (where it is asked if it is better to study the Torá the whole week and live from humanitarian help or work during the week and only dedicate Saturdays for studying).
Rabbi Samuel Aboab also wrote a book about religious laws, but the editor and place of edition are unknown. He also left many manuscripts.
The youngest brother, also named Isaac, is referred to as an important collaborator of Samuel and is very praised. His other two brothers, Jacob and Joseph, primarily stood out because of their charity work, especially the foundation of an organization that dealt with the rescue of persecuted Jews.
Samuel was survived by his wife and 4 children. His oldest son, Abraham, was his successor as head of the household. It seems that this son didn't live long.
His second son, David, was very respected by his compatriots. David's son, also named Samuel, (Samuel Aboab's grandson) was born in 1692 and was blessed by his dying grandfather. He became Rabbi in Venice and participated in the movement against Mose Chajin Luzzato.
His third son, Jacob, was also a rabbi in Venice and was well respected because of his profound knowledge. His opinions were valuable during any disputes. He was very interested in religious antiques. Maintained intense correspondence in Hebrew with Pastor Unger. These documents of difficult reading are in the National Library of Hamburg.
Also in the Frankfurt Library exist letters in Italian that we sent to Hiob Ludoff during the years of 1685 and 1692. This gentleman Ludoff was knowledgeable in oriental culture, he died in 1704.
I can't determine the date of death of Jacob, but in 1729 he still as alive. Of his writing none were published. There are some published documents of his in other author's books, such as a letter addressed to Nehemia Ben Baruch of Range. In 1713, in response to his brother's wishes, he wrote a letter to Chacham Zwi regarding the lies published about pseudo messiah Nehemia Chajun.
Joseph, Samuel Aboab's forth son, took over his father's duty in the Talmudic school directorship.
Samuel Aboab and his four son are always mentioned by persons of the time as great
literary, very religious and of great knowledge. Such observations appear in diverse introductions of other books and prayers.
Another mentioned Aboab lived in the middle of the XVI century and was Rabbi in Venice. Rabbi Mordechai Jafe asked Aboab to allow him instruct him in secular knowledge. I was not able to find the first name of this Aboab.
There also existed several Aboabs who were printers and publicists in Venice. The brothers Abraham and Isaac published the psalms in 1590 with comments from Meier Arama. A younger Abraham Aboab was a know with the same profession between the years of 1655 to 1669, his son Jacob also followed this profession during the years 1669 to 1683.
Other Aboabs of whose lives nothing is said, are the following:
ABRAHAM ABOAB of Pelot (Aragonia) in 1263 received from King Jaime, property titles (Jews Enciclopedia I, pg 73).
ABRAHAM ABOAB who lived during the XIV century and is mentioned in the RAG of Jeuda Ben Ascher.
ABRAHAM BEM JACOB ABOAB , belonged to the Salonica studies and died young.
JEHUDA ABOAB , descendent of Isaac Aboab II, abandoned Portugal in the XVI century and during many years was judge in Alcarquevir. His student David Fayon met Immanuel Aboab personally.
A widow of Jehuda Aboab is mentioned by Neubaur in Hebraic Bibliography XXI pg. 117.
MOSE ABOAB - O btained his citizenship in New York in 1684.
JACOB ABOAB - Lived in 1626 as a doctor in Mecca.
JACOB ABOAB - Was one of the first immigrants to New York in 1654.
RAFAEL ABOAB - Migrated to Surinam in 1669.
ISAAC ABOAB - Lived in Barbados in 1680.
GABRIEL ABOAB - Lived in Hamburg in 1621, to who Isaac Athias dedicated his book "Fortification of Law".
ABRAHAM ABOAB FALERO - Died in Venice in 1642.
ELIAHO ABOAB CARDOSO - Lived in Hamburg. In 1627 a synagogue named Tamud Torá was installed in his home for the Portuguese.
Many ABOAB rest in peace in the Portuguese cemetery in Altona, where the family crest can be seen (a tower, to the left a canon and to the right a house).
In Amsterdam, where the name ABOAB was maintained until 1814, we also find the following name bearers:
ABRAHAM BEM JACOB ABOAB (1617) - For many years belong to the board of the Jewish Colletive Beth Israel and is also mentioned in 1662 in the "Flections Book". His wife's name was Sara.
To the family Zemach-Aboab belong;
DANIEL ZEMACH ABOAB - Was a doctor, director of the Talmud Tora and fund raiser of the Chebra Bikkur Chalim between the years 1689 and 1718. He married in 1668 with Rebecca, Jacob Lopes's daughter.
ISAAC ZEMACH ABOAB - Brother of the above, doctor in medicine and philosophy, was director of Talmud Tora in 1645, in 1714 representative of Chebra Bikkur Cholim, he wrote a congratulations letter in Latin to Benedicto de Castro in Hamburg, who was the famous personal doctor of Queen Cristina of Sweden.
ABRAHAM ZEMACH ABOAB - In 1713 was a tax collector for the sacred land, 1727 representative and administrator of Beth Chajjim.
MORDECHAI ZEMACH ABOAB - In 1736 was administrator of Gemilut Chassidim.
To the ABOAB DA FONSECA family, besides the already mentioned, belong:
ISAAC ABOAB DA FONSECA - Who between 1730 and 1739 supervised the cemetery.
JEHUDA ABOAB DA FONSECA - Who in 1776 was administrator of the Gemilut Chassidim.
To the ABOAB OSORIO family belong:
DAVID ABOAB OSORIO - Who in 1724 was a tax collector for the holly land, and in 1727 representative of the Chabra Bikkur Cholim; 1730 and 1736, director of the Talmud Tora.
ISAAC ABOAB OSORIO - One of the administrators of the Sabbatai Zwi and director of the Chabra Bikkur Cholim.
JACOB ABOAB OSORIO - Between 1659 and 1716 administrator of the Gemilut Chassidim and director of the Chevra Bikkur Cholim and the Talmud Tora.
JOSEPH ABOAB OSORIO - In 1782 director of the Bikkur Cholim.
IMMANUEL ABOAB OSORIO - In 1669 tax collector for the holly land.
To the ABOAB DA PAZ family, belong:
MOSE ABOAB DA PAZ - In 1731 administrator of the Visitiania of the Talmudim.
SAMUEL ABOAB DA PAZ - One of the Sabatai Zwi administrators.
In Amsterdam also lived:
MATATIA ABOAB - Also named MANOEL DIAS HENRIQUES , born in 1594 in the city of Oporto, Portugal, went to Amsterdam in 1626 where he was nominated representative of the community Beit Jacob (1639), in 1650 director of the Chevra Bikkur Cholim. Died in 1667, his wife Ester died in 1670. The fourth child of the marriage was Isaac ben Matatia Aboab.
ISAAC BEN MATATIA ABOAB - Was born in 1631. He was Chazam of the Portuguese community and friend of Surenhuys. Between 1672 and 1700 occupied diverse honorary community offices. Wrote a book, published in Amsterdam in 1687 called " Exhortations for the frighten of God and observation of the procedure of His Law ". He died in 1707, his wife Sara (born Curiel) died in 1691 at the age of 39.
MOSE BEN MATATIA ABOAB - Brother of the above, in 1676 was collector and occupied diverse honorific offices between the year of 1652 and 1687.
MATATIA BEN MOSE ABOAB - Son of the above, was director of the Chevra Bikkur Cholim in 1706 and in 1709 director of the Talmud Torah.
Between the sons of Isaac Ben Matatia Aboab, we still can name Matatia born in 1672, David born in 1676 and Immanuel born in 1679.
DAVID ABOAB - Publisher of the book "Catalog of different remedies for diverse sicknesses, found by experience to be good" (1685).
ELIA ABOAB - Published the Psalms (1644) and two parts of the Mishna and a book of prayers. This last one, was revised by Menesse Ben Israel.
DANIEL ABOAB - In 1646 was director of the Chebara Bikkur Cholim and first singer of the synagogue.
BENJAMIM ABOAB - In 1653 loan administrator and in 1655 director of the Bet Chajjim.
JACOB BEN BENJAMIM ABOAB - Lived around 1675 and was a great thinker.
GABRIEL BEN ELLIA ABOAB - In 1690 loan administrator.
ABRAHAM BEN BARUCH ABOAB - Cativos collector.
Immanuel Aboab frequently wrote in Hebrew, Spanish, Italian and Latin. He frequently quoted Plato, Aristotle, Philo, Maimonides and Abarbanel.
He wrtoe about astronomy: Ä history about the second Firmicus calendar, Marcobius Sensorius and Beda as a retification of the calendar of Patative and Jvan Stadio. It seems that he had no knowledge of the Copernicus system.
The Fonseca family bloomed in Amsterdam and Hamburg . Abraham da Fonseca worked in Daniel Fonseca's graphics shop (1627-1628). Thereafter was Chacham of the Portuguese community in Gluksadt and later in Hamburg where he held the same office in the synagogue Keter Torah. He died in 1671. Among his descendents are found many doctors that lived and died in Hamburg . There also lived Fonsecas in Surinam . The first Hebrew book published in Amsterdam (Aldabis 1627) was financed by Abraham Kochen Henriques and Daniel da Fonseca. It was revised by Abraham da Fonseca.
Antonio Vieira was asked what he though of the following people: his answer was: "Menasse ben Israel says what he knows, and Isaac Aboab da Fonseca knows what he says".
One of the Isaac Aboab da Fonseca's son, was named David and was Chacham of the Hebra in Amsterdam . He died in 1698 and his wife Rachel in 1718.
Written by : Leopold Lowestein ( Hamburg - 1905)
Issued by : Simon Abuhab (S.Paulo - 1996)
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