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There is a book seen here which purports to be the exegesis of the Rambam on the Book of Esther. I can't seem to find any information on the Rambam having ever written such a work.

Question:

a)Has this work been verified as an authentic work of the Rambam?

b)If it is authentic, do we know how old the Rambam was when he wrote it?

  • The sefer can be found on HebrewBooks. I have not found any historical source that confirms it to be his. an unauthenticated internet account says that Rav Qafih said the style of Arabic was not like Rambam's. In my opinion the burden of proof les on those who want to claim he wrote it, as there are more works falsely attributed to him, than correctly attributed. Furthermore, the content of the work does not appear similar to Rambam's other works; e.g. a focus on fantastic Midrashim IIRC. It does not appear that many serious scholars take this attribution seriously. – mevaqesh Dec 27 '15 at 21:11
  • See the conversation here. (BTW 'raf' there = Roman A. Foxbrunner.) Note the citation from the the Jewish Encyclopedia: "A commentary on Esther, regarded as a pseudonymous work of Maimonides, was edited (Leghorn, 1759) by Abraham b. Daniel Lumbroso. It probably dates from the sixteenth century, and is written in the dialect of Maghreb" – mevaqesh Dec 27 '15 at 22:58
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If you read the introduction to the book at the HebrewBooks.org link, it says that the publisher (apparently not the translator), Ben Tzion Krinfis was given the material in Arabic sometime between 1935 and 1948 by Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Toledano. Krinfis refers to Rabbi Toledano as the 'Rav HaRoshei of Yaffo (meaning Tel Aviv).

A link to Rabbi Toledano is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ya%27akov_Moshe_Toledano

According to Rabbi Toledano's bio, he was elected to that office in 1942 and held that office until 1958. So the citation from Krinfis seems accurate.

Rabbi Toledano, who lived from 1880 to 1960, was a recognized expert on Rambam and is credited with discovering numerous early manuscripts, including some by Rambam in Arabic, from Spain, the Jewish communities of North Africa and also Damascus in Syria.

According to Krinfis, Rabbi Toledano had begun to publish the Rambam's commentary on Esther but didn't finish it. Rabbi Toledano provided Krinfis with what he had done to that time together with an Arabic printing of the commentary that was published in the year 5520 (1759/60).

In terms of the Rambam himself, his son, Rabbeinu Avraham is recorded as having said in his Maamar Odos Derashos Chazal (found in the introduction to Ein Yaacov) that his father had always intended to write something dealing much more with the correct understanding of Midrash. It would therefore come as no surprise if in fact this text was dealing with such subjects.

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    Um... the reference in R. Avraham is to something his father did not write; not to something he did write. – mevaqesh Dec 28 '15 at 18:02
  • @mevaqesh, I didn't say anything more than that Rambam's son acknowledged this was something his father desired to do very much. If that statement is taken at face value together with the idea that children, even though they may be intimately aware of many accomplishments by their parents, don't know about all of them. It leaves the distinct possibility that Rambam would have written such a book. In the Igrot HaRambam, he had a great deal of correspondence with communities of the Levant particularly over the subject of the redemption. Igeret Teiman is one example. This book could be another. – Yaacov Deane Dec 28 '15 at 18:34
  • It should be noted that the leaders of Maimonideic scholarship of the 20th century seem to have followed the Jewish Encyclopedia in dismissing this work out of hand. The body of convincing forgeries misattributed to Rambam is sizable. This does not appear to belong to that body. – mevaqesh Dec 28 '15 at 22:32
  • I'm not disputing you but names and actual citations or links would be helpful. The Rav Kafach comment is in your own words, not authenticated. Although Rav Toledano was his senior both in age and on the Beit Din of Tel Aviv/Yaffa. I'm sure, since they worked together and shared interest in the writings of Rambam they discussed this. The RAF comment doesn't add anything. The "pseudonymous" comment is probably referring to the alternate title it was originally published under. – Yaacov Deane Dec 29 '15 at 0:21
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The Light of the Ben Ish Chai, by Yerachmiel Bratt. The Ben Ish Chai on Megilas Esther. Page 122 mentions an arabic written commentary of the Rambam on Esther.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Cory! Thank you very much for this answer. – mevaqesh Jun 2 '16 at 1:46
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    This is a very interesting source, but I dont think it answers the question of whether the work has been authenticated. – mevaqesh Jun 2 '16 at 1:47

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