Benjamin, Israel

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BENJAMIN, ISRAEL (c. 1570–1649), posek and kabbalist, who was among the greatest of Egyptian and Jerusalem scholars of his century. According to David *Conforte he was also called "Israel Eliakim." Benjamin was a disciple of R. Eleazar Monzalavi and his friend Samuel b. *Sid, and corresponded with Jacob Castro of Egypt (Oholei Ya'akov, 1738, no. 58). According to Conforte a collection of more than a hundred legal decisions and a book of scriptural exegesis by Benjamin were in the possession of his son Baruch Benjamin in Jerusalem. Ḥ.J.D. Azulai also saw a manuscript of his responsa. Abraham Azulai quotes new rulings by Benjamin in his annotations. He was a disciple of the kabbalist *Joseph ibn Tabul in Egypt. In the manuscript Oẓerot Ḥayyim by Ḥayyim *Vital (Ms. Jerusalem 80 370) there are annotations by Benjamin as well as statements of Ibn Tabul which the latter heard from Isaac *Luria. Benjamin taught Kabbalah in Egypt and Jerusalem. His disciples include Meir *Anaschehon and Meir *Poppers. They had Benjamin's annotations to other writings of Isaac Luria, as well as a maḥzor based on the Kabbalah; these are found in Beit Mo'ed in the manuscripts of Solomon b. Benjamin ha-Levi. Ḥayyim Vital's Sefer ha-Gilgulim contains glosses by Benjamin. An immigrant from Carpi who went to Jerusalem in 1625 found manuscripts of Luria in the possession of Benjamin. He served in Jerusalem as dayyan and was one of the prominent scholars in the town. In 1623 he signed an agreement not to cause division in the community and in 1625 he signed an agreement to exempt the scholars from taxes. In that year the Jews of Jerusalem suffered from the oppressive rule of Ibn Farruk, and Benjamin signed a circular entitled Ḥurvot Yerushalayim which was handed to emissaries who were sent to the Diaspora with the aim of collecting money for the reconstruction of the community. His signature is also found in a letter to Fez in 1630. In 1646 he was the head of the Jerusalem rabbis. In 1649 he signed first on the endorsement (*haskamah) of Joseph *Caro's Maggid Meisharim (vol. 2, Venice 1649).


Conforte, Kore, 48b–49a; S. Ḥazzan, Ha-Ma'alot li-Shelomo (1894), 45a–b; Yerushalayim (ed. by A.M. Luncz), 2 (1887), 147–8; 5 (1901), 73–85; Azulai, 1 (1852), 114, no. 406; J.M. Toledano, in: huca, 4 (1927), 464–6 (Heb.); Frumkin-Rivlin, 2 (1928), 27–29; 3 (1929), 13.