David ben Samuel Ha-Levi

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DAVID BEN SAMUEL HA-LEVI (known as the Taz from the initial letters of his work, Turei Zahav; 1586–1667), rabbi and halakhic authority. Born in Vladimir-Volynski (Lodomeria), Ukraine, he studied under his eldest brother, Isaac ha-Levi, and married the daughter of Joel *Sirkes. After his marriage he remained for some time in the house of his father-in-law and studied in his yeshivah. He established his own bet midrash in Cracow. He regarded the premature death of his children there as a punishment for establishing his home on top of the synagogue. David was appointed rabbi of Putalicze near Rawa (Galicia) in about 1618, and for 20 years he served as rabbi of Posen. About 1641 he was appointed rabbi of Ostrog in Volhynia, where he maintained a yeshivah. During the Chmielnicki pogroms (1648–49) he escaped to the fortress of Ulick. In the seliḥot (published in Yalkut Menaḥem of Menahem Mendel Biber, 1903) which he composed for the 26th of Sivan, he describes the miraculous escape of the Jews who gathered there for protection. He then went to Lublin, and finally, like many Polish scholars, wandered westward. He was consulted on halakhic problems in all the Moravian communities to which he came. When calm was partially restored in Poland, he returned there, and in 1654 was appointed rabbi of Lemberg to the community "outside the city." He participated in the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands and his signature appears on many of the rulings and resolutions issued by that body. His two sons, Mordecai and Solomon, were killed in the pogroms against the Jews of Lvov which broke out on May 3, 1664. During his last days he sent his son Isaiah and stepson Aryeh Leib b. Samuel Ẓevi to investigate the claims of *Shabbetai Ẓevi. They came back full of enthusiasm, bringing a letter and gifts for their aged father, who appears to have accepted their opinion. David died in Lvov.

His most important work, Turei Zahav (Taz), is in the main a commentary on the four parts of the Shulḥan Arukh: Even ha-Ezer (reissued in full in Zolkiew, 1754) and Ḥoshen Mishpat (to section 246, Hamburg, 1692; the whole published in Berlin, 1766). The work is not a running commentary, but discussions on the Tur of Jacob b. Asher and the Talmud and its commentators. Taz on Oraḥ Ḥayyim was published in the margin of the Shulḥan Arukh, together with the commentary of Abraham Abele Gumbiner, under the combined title Meginnei Ereẓ (Dyhernfurth, 1692), Magen David being David's work and Magen Avraham, Gumbiner's. Magen David is a running commentary, but has a closer relationship to the Tur than to the Shulḥan Arukh. Various authors have written notes and glosses on this section of the Taz, the best-known being Peri Megadim, of Joseph b. Meir *Teomim. The most important and authoritative of the sections, however, is the Taz on Yoreh De'ah (Lublin, 1646). The second edition was published in the margin of the Shulḥan Arukh together with the commentary of *Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen, the whole being called Ashlei ha-Ravrevei (Wilhelmsdorf, 1677). In the commentary David gives reasons for the rulings of the Shulḥan Arukh and examines the sources. This section became popular in all yeshivot as soon as it appeared and was accepted as authoritative by halakhists. At the end of the book he appended Daf Aḥaron, containing criticism of Siftei Kohen on Yoreh De'ah by Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen. Many supercommentaries were also written on this section of Taz, the most important again being Peri Megadim. David added two books containing corrections and supplements to the Taz (Haggahotve-Ḥiddushim, Halle, 1710; Zahav Mezukkak, Dyhernfurth, 1725). He also wrote Divrei David (ibid., 1689), a supercommentary to that of *Rashi on the Pentateuch. The second edition of the Taz on Even ha-Ezer as well as a collection of responsa, which were available to scholars of the generation after his death, have not survived. David's works greatly influenced practical halakhic rulings during the succeeding generations. He is credited with halakhic contributions toward a synthesis of economic practice with the laws of the Torah. His rulings occasionally reflect a practical flexibility in the face of social and economic reality. The Turei Zahav synagogue in Lvov was named after him.


Y.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ẓedek (1874), 151–3; Fuenn, Keneset, 239; Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 1 (1887, repr. 1960), 48–77; S. Buber, Anshei Shem (1895), 56–59; M.M. Biber, Mazkeret li-Gedolei Ostraha (1907), 53–58; S.M. Chones, Toledot ha-Posekim (1910), 266–70; Halpern, Pinkas (1945), index; H. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 139–41; Szulwas, in: I. Halprin (ed.), Beit Yisra'el be-Polin, 2 (1953), 20–21; J. Sasportas, Ẓiẓat Novel Ẓevi, ed. by I. Tishby (1954), 77–79; Ben-Sasson, in: Zion, 21 (1956), 183–206; Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, 500–2.

[Shmuel Ashkenazi]

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David ben Samuel Ha-Levi

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