Castro, Jacob ben Abraham

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CASTRO, JACOB BEN ABRAHAM

CASTRO, JACOB BEN ABRAHAM (known as Maharikas from the Hebrew initials of his name; 1525?–1610), halakhic authority and talmudic commentator. Castro was born in Egypt. According to D. Conforte, he was the grandson of Abraham *Castro. In his youth he went to Jerusalem, where he studied under R. *Levi b. Ḥabib, and R. *David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra. Castro later became rabbi of the Mustaʿrabs in Cairo, a position he held until his death. In 1570 he visited Palestine, and was the guest of Joseph *Caro in Safed. He maintained a regular correspondence concerning halakhic questions with such authorities as Caro and R. Moses di *Trani. His collected responsa, Oholei Ya'akov (Leghorn, 1783), are a most important source for the history of Egyptian Jewry. He also wrote Erekh Leḥem (Constantinople, 1718), a collection of annotations on the Shulḥan Arukh similar to that of R. Moses *Isserles. (Castro did not see Isserles' work although it was published during his lifetime, but they often reached the same conclusions.) The halakhic decisions set forth in Erekh Leḥem were accepted as binding by the rabbis of Palestine and Egypt. Castro's novellae on several tractates of Talmud were known to Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai. Those on tractate Beẓah were published under the title Toledot Ya'akov (1865). Hilkhot Nezirut ("Laws of Naziriteship") and Mazkeret Gittin ("Memorandum on Divorce Bills") were printed at the end of the Halakhot Ketannot of Jacob *Ḥagiz (Venice, 1704). The manuscript of Castro's collected sermons, Kol Ya'akov, has been lost.

bibliography:

Conforte, Kore, 33, 41; R.A. Ben Simon, Tuv Miẓrayim (1908), 19–20; Nissim, in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 89–102; idem, in Y. Rafael (ed.), Rabbi Joseph Caro (Heb., 1969), 64, 75–81; J.M. Toledano, Oẓar Genazim (1960), 213f.; Marx, in: rej, 89 (1930), 293–304.

[Abraham David]