558 leaves(10¾ x 7¼ in.; 274 x 184 mm). Five parts printed in two volumes bound as one. Vol. I, 384 ff., collation: 1-476, 488, 494, 30-646, quires 48 and 49 misbound; vol II, 174 ff., collation: 1-296; printed pagination irregular. First few ff.soiled, f. 217 with lower outer corner mended affecting text, worming in last leaf. Old vellum; soiled and stained.
Vinograd, Salonika 29; Mehlman 1220 (incomplete); Steinschneider 5312, 4 (Ed. Rarissima)
Isaac ben Moses Arama (c. 1420–1494), was a Spanish rabbi, philosopher, and preacher. As the rabbi of Calatayud, Arama delivered a great many sermons on the principles of Judaism, in an effort to neutralize the effects of increased conversionist pressure being exerted on the Jews of Aragon. These sermons became the basis of his masterwork, Akedat Yitzhak, a collection of philosophical and allegorical sermons on the Pentateuch which deal with a broad range of topics including: the definition of the soul; the symbolic meaning of paradise; the conception of prophecy; and free-will.
Arama's great popularity stems from his stylistic combination of the Ashkenazic didactic and moralizing style with the philosophic tendency popular among Spanish and Provençal Jews. The need for this new approach, Arama explains in his introduction, "is especially urgent in this country (i.e. Aragon) where the Christian preachers, many of whom are well learned, expound the doctrines of their faith as well as the words of the Bible in a philosophic and scholarly manner. The Jews ... desire that their rabbis should do likewise."
Written in the form of philosophical homilies and allegorical commentaries on the Pentateuch, the work consists of 105 "Portals." Each portal forms a complete sermon which is divided into two parts: derishah ("investigation"), and perishah ("exposition"). In the derishah, the author examines a philosophical idea in the light of selected biblical and rabbinic texts, with which the sermon opens. In the perishah, the Scriptural commentary predominates and the difficulties which seem to appear in the text are solved with the aid of the central idea of the derishah. Thus, the gap between the two parts of the sermon is skillfully closed, and they merge into a harmonious whole.
Arama's sermons met the needs of his own time superbly and influenced the style and character of Jewish preaching through the subsequent centuries. The Akedat Yizhak became a classic work in Jewish homiletics and is widely read to the present day.
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