R. Avraham Porto (Minchah Belulah)

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Minchah Belulah
R. Avraham Menachem b. R. Yaakov HaKohen Rapa of Porto (Rapaport)
ר' אברהם מנחם ב"ר יעקב הכהן רפא מפורטו
Datesc. 1520 – c. 1596
WorksCommentary on Torah
Exegetical Characteristics
Influenced byR. Eliyahu Bachur
Impacted on



  • Name – ר' אברהם מנחם ב"ר יעקב הכהן רפא מפורטו‎2
  • Dates – c. 1520 – c. 1596
  • Location – Born in Italy,3 lived much of his life in Venice,4 served as a Rabbi in Cremona5 and then Verona.6
  • Occupation – Prior to holding rabbinic positions, R. Avraham worked in Venice as a proofreader.7 Despite his continued work in Venice in 1573-74, he was already serving as a rabbi in Cremona in 1571, and he became the ruling Halakhic authority in Cremona by 1574. In the wake of a deadly epidemic in 1575, R. Avraham was appointed one of three 'Health Ministers' in Cremona.8 In 1585, he left Cremona to assume the position of the assistant to the elderly rabbi of Verona, whom he then succeeded one year later.9 In 1592, he resigned his position due to infirmity and old age and left Verona.
  • Family – R. Avraham's wife died in 1571. They had two sons, Yaakov and Yekutiel.10
  • Teachers – R. Eliyahu Bachur,11 R. Shemuel Yehuda Katzenellenbogen12
  • Contemporaries – R. Azariah de Rossi,13 R. Eliezer Ashkenazi,14 R. David b. Avraham Provencal, R. Yehuda b. Yosef Moscato.
  • Students
  • Time period – The entire second of half of the 16th century was a difficult time for Italian Jewry. Jews faced restrictions and persecutions mandated by both the papal and governmental authorities. For decades, Jews lived under the threat of expulsion, culminating with the 1597 expulsion of Jews from the Duchy of Milan. In 1553, R. Avraham witnessed the burning of the Talmud in Venice,15 and he instituted the dates of the burning as annual days of mourning and fasting.


  • Biblical commentaries – Minchah Belulah on the Torah.16 His commentaries on other books of Tanakh and Avot remain in manuscript.17
  • Rabbinics – Unpublished responsa18
  • Other works – Tzafenat Paneach19
  • Lost works – R. Avraham refers to a work he authored to prove that demons exist.20

Torah Commentary


  • Verse by verse / Topical
  • Genre
  • Structure
  • Language
  • No Kabbalah – R. Avraham states (in both his preface and afterword) that he avoided Kabbalistic content in his Torah commentary, explaining with humility that such matters are too sublime for him.21
  • General knowledge – The commentary reflects knowledge of medicine,22 philosophy,23 geometry, physics, optics, astronomy, music, chess,24 folk literature, and poetry.25 Besides Italian, he also knew Latin and German.26



Textual Issues

  • Manuscripts
  • Printings
  • Textual layers


Significant Influences

  • Earlier Sources
  • Teachers
  • Foils

Occasional Usage

Possible Relationship


Later exegetes