Capusi, Ḥayyim

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CAPUSI, ḤAYYIM (c. 1540–1631), Egyptian rabbi. Capusi was born in Algiers, but by 1555 had apparently reached Cairo. He is thought by some to have studied Kabbalah under Isaac *Luria. He was known for his uncompromising firmness. When Bezalel *Ashkenazi was in Egypt, a vehement dispute arose between him and Capusi with regard to a suit for debt in which Capusi found in favor of the defendant. His three responsa on this subject were published by J.M. Toledano (1908). When he later became blind, he was suspected of having accepted a bribe in this case (cf. Deut 16:19). The subsequent restoration of his sight was regarded as a clear vindication, after which he was called "Ba'al Nes" (the subject of a miracle) and the synagogue in which he prayed, was called "the synagogue of the Ba'al Nes." The anniversary of his death in Cairo on Shevat 12 was observed by local Jews as a day of pilgrimage to his grave. In one of the letters published in his Be-Or ha-Ḥayyim (Jerusalem, 1929), he made known his intention of immigrating to Ereẓ Israel, but it is uncertain whether he did so. His Sefer Ḥayyim (Moscow, Guenzburg ms no. 19), a commentary on the midrash, remains unpublished. Some of his responsa were published in the works of his contemporaries, and others are still in manuscript.


A. ibn Shimon, Tuv Miẓrayim (1908), 16a and b, no. 7; Toledano, in: Sinai, 30 (1952), 76–79; Ben-Ze'ev, in: Sefunot, 1 (1957), 11; 9 (1965), 270f.; A. Yaari, Meḥkerei Sefer (1958), 133–4; Benayahu, in: Oẓar Yehudei Sefarad, 5 (1962), 106–8; idem, in: Sefer ha-Yovel … H. Albeck (1963), 79.

[Abraham David]