Daniel ben Ḥasdai
DANIEL BEN ḤASDAI
DANIEL BEN ḤASDAI (d. 1175), *exilarch of Baghdad. Daniel inherited the office from his father, Ḥasdai b. David b. Hezekiah, and was already serving in this capacity before 1520, as is proved by a letter in which he confirms the appointment of *Nethanel b. Moses ha-Levi as head of "the great bet din in all the provinces of the land of Egypt." This letter, which was written in 1161, demonstrates his influence even in Egypt and contains many autobiographical details. He complains about his poverty, due to the political situation, and about the dissensions in his community. Later, however, it seems that his economic situation improved. The 12th-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Baghdad a few years later, admiringly describes Daniel's personality and authority, his learning in Bible and Talmud, and his lavish hospitality. R. Abraham Ibn Ezra was also impressed by his personality. Since he had no son, after his death the leaders of the Baghdad Jewish community split into two camps over the choice of his successor (see *David b. Zakkai ii).
S. Poznański, Babylonische Geonim (1914), 117–9; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 228–36; idem, in: Sefer Zikkaron … S. Poznański (1927), 23–24; Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 1:3 (1930), 66–77; 3 (1931/32), 343–4. add. bibliography: M. Gil, Be-Malkhut Ishmaʿel bi-Tekufat ha-Geonim, 1 (1997), 433–6.
[Tovia Preschel /
Avraham David (2nd ed.)]