Zohar Harakia

Zohar Harakia


Shimon ben Zemach Duran
Translated by Philip Caplan

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781936235575 (hardcover)
Pages: 468 pp.
Publication Date: September 2012

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Rabbi Shimon ben Zemach Duran (1361-1444) was a colorful rabbinic authority in Algiers. In his book, Zohar Harakia, on methods of enumerating the 613 commandments, he summarizes the work of previous authorities on this subject, especially Maimonides and Nachmanides. He also presents his own system of enumeration. Thus, his work is a compact introduction to this fundamental subject. The text, first printed in 1515, is written clearly and arranged as a commentary on ibn Gabirol’s poetic version of the 613 commandments, which is chanted on Shavuot. This English translation and notes make it accessible to lay readers as well as students of Jewish law, liturgy, and medieval Jewish history.

Philip Caplan (MS Wayne State University) has worked as a research physicist and is the author of The Puzzle of the 613 Commandments and Why Bother (1996).

Philip Caplan’s translation of Zohar Harakia by Shimon ben Zemach Duran is a learned and faithful rendition of an important Jewish religious classic. The work consists of a commentary by a major medieval rabbi on a major liturgical poem by the great Solomon ibn Gabirol dealing with the 613 commandments. Mr. Caplan’s translation will be studied and appreciated by anyone who is interested in medieval Jewish halakha, poetry, and liturgy.
— Raymond P. Scheindlin, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
This translation is dominated by a laudable concern for accuracy. . . . Readers whose interest is in technical scholarship will be grateful.
— Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Table of Contents

Translator’s Preface

Zohar HaRakia: General Principles
The Positive Commandments
The Negative Commandments
Appendix to the Zohar HaRakia

Translator’s Afterword