Caro, Isaac ben Joseph

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CARO, ISAAC BEN JOSEPH , Spanish scholar who lived at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. He was a native of Toledo, where he headed a yeshivah. Several years before the expulsion he moved with his yeshivah to Portugal. When the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal was decreed in 1497 he escaped to Turkey where he became one of the rabbis of Constantinople. There he published Toledot Yiẓḥak (Constantinople, 1518), a concisely written commentary on the Pentateuch, which included literal, homiletical, kabbalistic, and philosophical interpretations. His book reveals him as a man of very wide culture. Its extreme popularity is evidenced by the fact that four editions were published in the short period of 14 years. In the introduction he describes the many hardships, including the death of his children, which he endured during his wanderings. He adopted his nephew, Joseph *Caro, the author of the Shulḥan Arukh, who frequently mentions him in terms of the highest admiration. He states his desire to settle in Ereẓ Israel but it is not clear whether he was able to fulfill his wish. Only remnants of his other works remain. Three of his responsa appear in the works of Joseph Caro (Avkat Rokhel, Salonika 1791, no. 47, 48; Beit Yosef, Salonika 1598, on Even ha-Ezer, end). In his introduction to the latter work Judah, the son of Joseph Caro, declared his intention of collecting and publishing the rest of Isaac's responsa. Some of them are extant in manuscript (jts, no. 0348). He also wrote novellae to tractate Ketubbot (Oxford Bodleiana Mich. 250, Catalogue Neubauer 535). His homilies under the title Ḥasdei David have recently been published by S. Regev. Remnants of his commentary on Avot are quoted in the Midrash Shemu'el (Venice, 1579) of Samuel de *Uceda.


Avida, in: Yerushalayim, 4 (1953), 129–32; Dimitrovsky, in: Sefunot, 6 (1962), 73; R.J.Z. Werblowsky, Joseph Karo: Lawyer and Mystic (1962), 85f., 88; A. David, in: Sinai, 66 (1970), 367–71. add. bibliography: S. Regev, Derashot R. Yosef Caro (1995).

[Abraham David]