History

Rabbi Shlomo Adani - 17th Century Scholar of Hebron

Melechet Shlomo, written in Hebron, is considered one the greatest commentators on the Mishnah.

7.5.17, 19:06
(PHOTO: Handwritten manuscript of Rabbi Shlomo Adani. Source: Kedem auction house.)
 
Rabbi Shlomo Adani (1566 -1629) is considered one of the greatest commentators on the Mishnah and a part of Hebron's rich history of Torah scholarship. He is referred to in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia and in other English sources as Rabbi "Solomon Edni."
 
He was born in Sana'a, Yemen to Rabbi Yeshua Adani, a leading rabbi of the city. The family immigrated to the land of Israel in 1571. Shlomo's mother died on the journey. At first they settled in Tzfat where their economic situation was difficult and only after the elder Rabbi Adani's scholarship become known did their condition improve. 
 
However in Tzfat, two other siblings died and the bereaved father took young Shlomo to Jerusalem where the youth studied There Shlomo studied with the renounced Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi, the author of the "Shita Mekubetzet," and with Rabbi Chaim Vital, the noted disciple of the ARI.
 
Tragedy struck again in 1582 when Rabbi Yeshua Adani passed away leaving behind 15 years old Shlomo. For two and a half years he lived without a home until Rabbi Moshe Alchami, a well-do-do scholar, Rabbi Alchami took him in. Shlomo lived there for fiev years where he got married and excelled in Torah study, beginning his commentary on the Mishnah. 
From there Shlomo, now Rabbi Adani, moved his new family to Hebron where he earned a living as a school teacher and work on his study and writings. When he was approximately 33-years-old, his wife passed away as well as one daughter and two sons. Rabbi Adani married a second time and had two sons, who also died. 
 
In the introduction to one of his books, Rabbi Adani wrote, "It is now the year 5379 (1619), and today I am fifty-two years old. And to this day I have not been privileged to have a son to follow my guidance..."
 
It was in Hebron in the year 1624 where he completed his book entitled Melechet Shlomo. Although today it is considered a classic, at the time Rabbi Adani chose not to publish his book because he did not want to give competition to Rabbi Yom Tov Heller who had just published a similar commentary called Tosfos Yom Tov. 
 
Rabbi Adani wrote in the introduction: "The book has been completed Rosh Chodesh Kislev 1604, here in Hebron, the city where our Forefathers, their merit should protect us, are buried... My Elevated Master, hear my prayer and hurry to assist me, and do not be deaf to my tears. I am certain that I, the lowly Shlomo Adani, will not be sent away empty handed, just like from my youth until today, you have not deserted me, and allow me to offer you my toil in the Torah, my fat and blood, most of my nights and days."
 
He also included a draft of a letter in Aramaic to Rabbi Israel Najara, chief rabbi of Gaza, who for a time also lived in Hebron. It reads in part: "Shalom to our brothers and shalom to our head, our Master Yisrael, the Humble one, Chacham ben Chacham, who will answer our questions, and will send us a good response, Shlomo Adani."
 
Today, Melechet Shlomo is partially printed in most of the editions of the Mishna with commentaries, and Rabbi Shlomo Adani is considered one its greatest commentators. (The CHIDA, Rabbi Chaim David Azulai, also of a family of Hebron scholars, writes of him: "One of the elder rabbis of Hebron, a disciple of Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi... we have heard many things about his righteousness and his diligence in spite of his poverty."

There are two other known book by Rabbi Adani,. One is called "Binyan Shlomo LHochmat Betzalel" which is a compendium and commentary based on the writings of his mentor, Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi. Another book, now lost, was entitled Divrei Emet. Its existence is known because the CHIDA quoted from it in his won writings.

Rabbi Adani is buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. His grave, along with the rest of the cemetery was descrated and plowed over during the Jordanian occupation of 1948 - 1967. However after the return to Hebron, it was refurbished along with the final resting places of other great sages. 
 
Today streets in Jerusalem, Beesheba and other Israeli cities are named after Rabbi Shlomo Adani.
 
 
 
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