Rabbi Simeon ben Zemah Duran, also Tzemach Duran (1361–1444; שמעון בן צמח דוראן), known as Rashbatz (רשב"ץ) or Tashbatz was a Rabbinical authority, A major 15th century posek, his published decisions in matters of halacha have been widely quoted in halachic literature for hundreds of years.
Rabbi Simeon ben Zemah Duran, also Tzemach Duran (1361–1444; שמעון בן צמח דוראן), known as Rashbatz (רשב"ץ) or Tashbatz was a Rabbinical authority, student of philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and especially of medicine, which he practised for a number of years at Palma (de Majorca). A major 15th century posek, his published decisions in matters of halacha have been widely quoted in halachic literature for hundreds of years
Simeon ben Tzemach was born in the Hebrew month of Adar, 1361. Various accounts put his birthplace as either Barcelona, or the island of Majorca. He was a near relation but not a grandson of Levi ben Gershon. He was a student of Ephraim Vidal, and of Jonah de Maestre, rabbi in Zaragoza or in Calatayud, whose daughter Bongoda he married.
After the persecution of 1391 (in the Balearic Isles) and Majorca he fled Spain with his father and sister for Algiers, where, in addition to practicing medicine, he continued his studies during the earlier part of his stay. In 1394 he and the Algerian rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet (known as Rivash) drafted statutes for the Jewish community of Algiers. After Rivash's retirement, Duran became rabbi of Algiers in 1407. Unlike his predecessor, he refused on principle to accept any confirmation of his appointment by the regent. As Duran had lost all his property during the massacre at Palma, he was forced against his will to accept a salary from the community, not having other means of subsistence. He held this office until his death. His epitaph, written by himself, has been reprinted for the first time, from a manuscript, in Orient, Lit. v. 452. According to Joseph Sambari, Simon was much respected in court circles (Medieval Jew. Chron. i. 130). He was the father of the Rashbash.
Duran's Magen Avot was a polemic against Christians and Muslims, of which the fourth chapter of the second part was published separately as Keshet u-Magen (The Arrow and the Shield).
Simon was prolific. He wrote commentaries on several tractates of the Mishnah and the Talmud and on Alfasi (Nos. 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, and 16 in the list of his works given below); he treated various religious dogmas as well as the synagogal rite of Algiers (Nos. 5, 8, 10, 16), while in his responsa he showed a profound acquaintance with the entire halakic literature. His theologico-philosophical scholarship, as well as his secular learning, is conspicuous in his elaborate work, Magen Abot, in which he also appears as a clever controversialist (No. 7). The same ability is evidenced in his writings against Hasdai Crescas, which afford him an opportunity to defend Maimonides (No. 2), in his commentary on the Pentateuch (No. 6), where he takes occasion to enter into polemics with Levi ben Gershon, and in that on the Book of Job (No. 1), especially the introduction. In his commentary on the Pirke Avot he shows a broad historical sense (No. 7, part iv.) and it is not improbable that the tradition which ascribes to him the historico-didactic poem Seder ha-Mishneh leha-Rambam (No. 9) is well founded.
Simon also wrote a considerable number of poems, both religious and secular (Nos. 9 [?], 15); commented on the Pesah Haggadah, the Hoshanot, the works of more ancient poets (Nos. 5 (c), 13, 14), and he was the author of numerous pamphlets. The following list of Duran's writings is arranged according to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, on the basis of a catalogue drawn up by the author himself (Responsa, vol. iii.):
May the merit of the tzadik Rabbi Simeon ben Zemah Duran protect us all. Amen
Note: "The exact passing day of this Tzadik is unknown and we placed him under the 15th of the month when the soul of all the Tzadikim comes down to the world"