There is a work known as Tsavaat Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, which is purported to be have been authored by the Tanna R. Eliezer. According to R. Menahem Lunzano cited here, the work was actually authored by the 11th century Ashkenazi R. Eliezer ben Yitshak.

Personally, given for example the numerous statements that seem to be based on the Zohar which was not published until the end of the 13th century, I wondered if it was of even later authorship. I see that this is the opinion of Gershom Scholem and Yeshaya Tishbi, cited here.

What does later research indicate regarding the provenance of this work?

For example, when did Scholem think it was written, if not in the 11th century.

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2 Answers 2


Israel Abrahams, in his Hebrew Ethical Wills (31f.), republished this testament alongside an annotated English translation. He writes in his preface to it that he is inclined to assume, as you suggested, that it was authored no earlier than what Lonzano suggests due to the Zohar similarities. The other opinions, those of Jellenik and Klein who place its authorship even as early as a genuine work of the Tanna, he does not find tenable.

In his book Kabbalah (pg. 432) Scholem posits that Moses de Leon authored the testament. Interesting to mention what he writes regarding the ascription: "The 'Testament of R. Eliezer The Great' also called Orhot Hayyim, is evidence of the author's hesitation in choosing between the Tannaim Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and Simeon b. Yohai for the hero of his pseudepigraphical construction." In his Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (p. 183) he advances the theory that it was constructed "during a pause in working on the Zohar".


As noted, according to Scholem it was written by Moses de Leon. According to Prof. Joseph Dan, however, it was actually written in the 11th century by R. Eliezer ben Isaac HaGadol.[i]

[i] Hebrew Ethical and Homiletical Literature [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1975), pp. 93-94. Cited by Prof. Elliot Wolfson in Hai Gaon's Letter and Commentary on Aleynu: Further Evidence of Moses de León's Pseudepigraphic Activity in JQR LXXXI, Nos. 3-4 (January-April, 1991) 365-410.

  • H/T @MoriDowidhYa3aqov for the article.
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2017 at 3:01

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