Alfandari, Solomon Eliezer ben Jacob
ALFANDARI, SOLOMON ELIEZER BEN JACOB,
ALFANDARI, SOLOMON ELIEZER BEN JACOB , known as Mercado or Maharsha (M oreinu ha-R av Sh elomo E liezer; 1826 or 1829–1930), rabbinic authority. Alfandari was born in Constantinople. When he was about 25, he headed the yeshivah founded by a certain Foa, a wealthy resident of Constantinople, and among his pupils were many who subsequently became important rabbis. At the age of 30, he was elected a member of the general religious council (Majlis) of Constantinople. During the sultanate of Abdul Ḥamid, Alfandari opposed the conscription of Jews into the Turkish army, on the grounds that such conscription constituted interference with their religious practice, in violation of an agreement made by the Spanish exiles with the Turkish authorities as a condition for their settling in Turkey in the late 15th century. The order of conscription was finally rescinded. Alfandari was later appointed chief rabbi of Damascus, and from 1904 to 1918 served as chief rabbi of Safed. In 1926 he settled in Jerusalem.
Regarded as one of the great scholars of his time, Alfandari was accepted by both Sephardim and Ashkenazim and despite his exceptional firmness, his responsa and rulings were honored without demur. During the last years of his life, he was visited by Ḥayyim Eleazar Shapira, rabbi of the Munkacs Ḥasidim, who was deeply impressed by his personality. After his death, the Ḥasidim of Munkacs dedicated to his memory Masot Yerushalayim (1931), a hymn in his praise. Some of Alfandari's responsa were published in the periodical Torah mi-Ẓiyyon, in the Kanah Avraham of Abraham Ḥai Amozag, and in the works of his contemporaries. A few of his responsa were published by Isaac *Nissim, under the title She'elot u-Teshuvot Maharsha (1932). His remaining works are still in manuscript.
M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1937), 85f.; Ben-Jacob, in: Hed ha-Mizraḥ, 4 (1945), 7f. no. 6; Ben-Zvi, in: Oẓar Yehudei Sefarad, 6 (1963), 8–11, 14; idem, Ketavim, 3 (1966), 91f., 99.