Badhav, Isaac ben Michael

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BADHAV, ISAAC BEN MICHAEL (1859–1947), Jerusalem rabbi and scholar. Badhav was born in Jerusalem and was the maternal grandson of Isaac *Covo. In his youth he studied in the bet ha-midrash Doresh Zion and in the yeshivah Shevet Aḥim. He engaged to a considerable extent in communal matters, and in 1886 was one of the founders of the Jerusalem Ḥevrat Shomerei Mitzvah u-Malbishei Arumim. In 1887 he was sent on a mission to Tripoli by the Beth El congregation, returning in 1889. In 1901 he was appointed teacher in the bet ha-midrash of Ḥayyim Hezekiah *Medini, Sedei Ḥemed in Hebron, but he remained there for a short time only, returning to Jerusalem. He lived in poverty all his life. Badhav devoted himself to collecting old Hebrew books and manuscripts and assembled a large library containing exceptionally important documentary archives which included ancient and valuable documents and records. These he obtained from members of the old Jerusalem families by persuading them to furnish him with their personal accounts of Israel and Jerusalem. They are a valuable source for research, particularly into Jerusalem.

In 1900 he published a catalog of his manuscripts entitled Ginzei Ẓiyyon vi-Yrushalayim. A second catalog, Pardesha-Torah ve-ha-Ḥokhmah, was published in 1910. These manuscripts which contain materials dealing with the fields of hala khah, aggadah, philosophy, grammar, Kabbalah, geonica, medieval literature, history, poetry, and folklore are of great importance, because some of them are unique. Badhav also published many pamphlets containing laws and customs, poems and parables, amulets, prayers, petitions and memoirs, as well as responsa of early authorities, including some of the responsa of Maimonides. He translated into Ladino various historical studies. Because of his lack of means the pamphlets were issued in an irregular and haphazard manner. His two most important books are still in manuscript form: Sefer ha-Gittin, containing formulae of bills of divorce of the different communities, particularly those from Oriental countries – a book of importance not only for practical purposes but also for the purposes of research into Jewish history and folklore; and Shem ha-Gedolim ha-Kelali, an encyclopedia of great Jewish scholars and their works, both those which have been published and those which are extant in manuscript form.


M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1937), 128–30; Benayahu, in: Hed ha-Mizraḥ (March 29, 1946), 6–7; idem, in: Yerushalayim, 1 (1948), 58–60. add. bibliography: J. Levi (ed.), R. Isaac Badhav, Mifalo, Ḥayyav u-Shekhunato (1977).

[Abraham David]