ABRAHAM BEN HILLEL (Ben Nissim) OF FOSTAT


ABRAHAM BEN HILLEL (Ben Nissim) OF FOSTAT
ABRAHAM BEN HILLEL (Ben Nissim) OF FOSTAT (Egypt; d. 1223), scholar, poet, and physician. Abraham is probably identical with Abraham the Pious (he-Ḥasid or he-Ḥaver) referred to frequently by his friend abraham b. moses b. maimon in his writings. In 1167 Abraham b. Hillel, Maimonides, and other rabbis signed a takkanah to safeguard the observance of the laws of family purity in Egypt (Maimonides, Teshuvot (Responsa), ed. by A.H. Freimann (1934), 91–94). In 1196 Abraham wrote Megillat Zuta, describing satirically the exploits of an adventurer called zuta (and his son) who imposed himself repeatedly on the Jewish community of Egypt. Megillat Zuta is written in rhymed prose with a prologue and epilogue in metered verse. The number of manuscripts extant seems to attest the popularity of the work, which was first published by Neubauer (JQR, 8 (1896), 543 ff.). Abraham and Josiah b. Moses verified a responsum by Jehiel (?) b. Eliakim Fostat, which deals with the controversy concerning the reference, in legal documents and during prayers, to the person of the reigning nagid. After Abraham's death his collection of books was put up for sale in the Palestinian synagogue of Fostat under the auspices of Abraham b. Moses b. Maimon. The library contained 75 medical works, about 30 Hebrew books, among them biblical books, works on Hebrew grammar, a copy of the Mishnah, part of a talmudic tractate, Maimonides' Book of Precepts and Guide, as well as several copies of Saadiah's Siddur. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Wertheimer, Ginzei Yerushalayim, 1 (1896), 37 ff.; Kahane, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 15 (1905), 175 ff.; Eppenstein, in: Festschrift… I. Lewy (Heb., 1911), 53; idem, in: Festschrift… D. Hoffmann (Heb., 1914), 131, 135 ff.; Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 234–6; 2 (1928), 303 ff., 327; Abrahams, in: Jews College Jubilee Volume (1906), 101 ff.; A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 201–2; Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 32 (1962/63), 191–2. (Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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