Busal, Ḥayyim ben Jacob Obadiah de

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BUSAL, ḤAYYIM BEN JACOB OBADIAH DE (d.c. 1565), rabbi and kabbalist in Salonika. Busal, a Spanish exile, studied under Elijah Mizraḥi in Constantinople and was a disciple of Isaac Amarillo in Salonika. After the death of Eliezer Hashimoni (1530), Busal was elected to succeed him as rabbi of the Catalan community in Salonika. His tenure was marked by conflicts in the Salonika communities, particularly between the rabbi and lay leaders over the extent of their respective authorities. A major dispute occurred between Busal and the community before 1540. Busal was required to issue a certain document (of an unknown nature) and was warned that his refusal to comply with the requirement would disqualify him and any of his sons from being rabbi of the community. Busal refused to submit the document. Another dispute took place between him and one of the great rabbis of Salonika, Joseph Taitaẓak. Tam b. Yaḥya of Constantinople endorsed the legal decisions of Busal; however, after Taitaẓak wrote to Tam, the latter changed his mind and withdrew his support from Busal (responsa Oholei Tam no. 162 in Tummat Yesharim, Venice, 1620). Shortly after 1550, Busal went to Constantinople (Joseph Caro, Avkat Rokhel, no. 209). Nevertheless he continued to serve as rabbi of the Catalan community until his death. The poet Saadiah Longo wrote an elegy on him and considered him one of the important scholars of his generation. The manuscripts of most of the numerous responsa he issued have been lost. However, several of his responsa, as well as his endorsements (haskamot), have been printed or mentioned in the works of his contemporaries (e.g., Mabit, resp. no. 218; Divrei Rivot, nos. 130, 186; Maharashdam, yd, resp. nos. 61 and 89 and eh nos. 2, 21, 129; Mishpetei Shemu'el, resp. no. 100). Ḥayyim Benveniste mentions some of his responsa (Ba'ei Ḥayyei, yd no. 215; eh nos. 7, 11, 12). Busal was engaged for many years in the composition of his code of law following the order of the talmudic tractates. In 1546 he had completed his work on the order of Zera'im, as well as 13 additional tractates. He was one of the few Salonika scholars – who were mostly also kabbalists – whose kabbalistic works were published. His kabbalistic works include Be'er Mayim Ḥayyim, the first two parts of which were published (Salonika, 1546). The other parts exist only in manuscript (Munich, Ms. 46). There are also some passages on eschatology (Oxford, Ms. Opp. Add. 40 105 and 181).


Michael, Or, no. 891; M. Benayahu, in: Sinai, 28 (1951), 186–88; I. Molho and A. Amarijlio, in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 32, 35.