Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rabbi Abraham de Sola (London 1825- NY 1882)

Abraham de Sola (1825-1882) was a Canadian Rabbi, an orientalist and a scientist. 

De Sola was recognized as one of the most influential leaders of Orthodox Judaism in America during the second half of the nineteenth century, at a time when the struggle between the Orthodox and Reform wings of the community was at an acute stage.

His father was rabbi David Aaron de Sola, and his mother the daughter of rabbi Raphael Meldola. 

In 1847 de Sola arrived to Montreal, Canada and there he served as the rabbi of  She-erit Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese community. 
Rabbi de Sola soon established himself at the centre of Montreal's English-speaking intellectual community. An eloquent, popular, and prolific lecturer and a man of broad interests. He frequently addressed the Montreal Mercantile Library Association, the Montreal Literary Club, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal (of which he was elected an honorary member), the Montreal Mechanics' Institute, and the Natural History Society (which he served as president in 1867-68), as well as several organizations associated with McGill College.
In 1848, De Sola was appointed lecturer, and in 1853 professor, of Hebrew and Oriental literature at Mac Gill University in Montreal, and he eventually became the senior professor of its faculty of arts.

In 1873, by invitation of President Ulysses S. Grant De Sola opened the United States Congress with a prayer.

He wrote on the history of Jews in England, Persia, Poland, and France; reported on cosmography and Sinaitic inscriptions; examined botanical and zoological references in the Scriptures. De Sola also wrote medical studies, on the rabbinical dietary laws and the use of anesthetics, which appeared in major medical journals and were reprinted as pamphlets. His chief works include: Behemoth haTemeoth, a 16-page pamphlet published by John Lovell containing an annotated catalogue of the animals pronounced unclean by the book of Leviticus.

Some of his writing:

  • 1848. Scripture Zoology
  • 1852. The Mosaic Cosmogony.
  • 1852. The  Cosmography of Peritsol.
  • 1852. A Commentary on Shemuel haNagid  Introduction to the Talmud .
  • 1853. Behemoth Hatemeoth.
  • 1854. The Jewish Calendar System (conjointly with Rev. J.J. Lyons).
  • 1857. Philological Studies in  Hebrew and Aramaic .
  • 1858. Scripture Botany.
  • 1860. The Employment of Anæsthetics in Connection with Jewish Law.
  • 1861. The Sanatory Institutions of the Hebrews.
  • 1864. Biography of  David Aaron de Sola.
  • 1869. Life of  Shabettai Tsevi.
  • 1870. History of the Jews of Poland. 
  • 1871. History of the Jews of France.
  • 1874. Hebrew Numismatics.
  • 1878. New Edition of the Forms of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese  Jews, with English translation, based on the versions of    David Aaron de Sola and Isaac Lesser.
  • 1880. Life of Saadiah Gaon.
  • Abraham de Sola also contributed actively to the Jewish press, a large number of articles by him appearing in "The Voice of Jacob," "The Asmonean," "The British-American Journal," and other contemporary Jewish journals. His articles on william Sawson's "Archaia," "Dawn of Life," and "Origin of the World" are specially noteworthy. He also edited and republished English's "Grounds of Christianity " and a number of educational works.