Rabbi Solomon ben Abraham ibn Adret (1235-1310) was the Rabbi of Barcelona and the acknowledged spiritual leader of his generation. In this virtually unknown polemic work, he defends Judaism against the onslaught of Muslim theologian and critic Muhammad ibn Hazm (994-1064).
The text is based on a unique manuscript once housed in the Breslau Rabbinical Seminary. Researcher Bezalel Naor has relied on the transcription of one of the first graduates of the seminary, Joseph Perles, appended to Perles’ German monograph R. Salomo b. Abraham b. Adereth: Seine Leben und seine Schriften (Breslau, 1863). Naor’s lengthy introduction proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the attribution of the work to Rashba. In addition, the editor has included substantial footnotes and excursuses. The topic could not be more timely, as Judaism once again finds itself called upon to rise to the defense against the charges of Islamic triumphalists.
The volume includes a second original work by Bezalel Naor, Mitsvat Hashem Barah: An Elucidation of the Seven Noahide Commandments. The fascinating material is formatted both according to the order of Maimonides’ Hilkhot Melakhim and the order of the weekly Torah portion. (220 pp.)
Contained in the volume is a facsimile of a formal Haskamah (Approbation) from the late Talner Rebbe of Boston, Professor Isadore Twersy zt”l to Naor’s critical edition of Hassagot ha-Rabad le-Mishneh Torah (Jerusalem, 1984).
Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook served as the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Erets Israel from 1921 until his death in 1935. Born in Grieva, Latvia in 1865, he studied in the famed Volozhin Yeshivah, dubbed “the mother of yeshivot.” Beside the intellectual tradition of Volozhin, reaching back to the Vilna Gaon, Rav Kook was exposed in early childhood through his mother’s family to the mystical legacy of Habad Hasidism.