Elijah ben Benjamin Ha-Levi

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ELIJAH BEN BENJAMIN HA-LEVI (d. after 1540), rabbi and paytan of Constantinople. He belonged to an indigenous Turkish Jewish family. He studied under Moses *Capsali, to whose aid he came in his dispute with Joseph *Colon, and afterward under Elijah *Mizraḥi, whom he succeeded as chief rabbi of Constantinople in 1525. Elijah wrote a book of responsa called Tanna de-Vei Eliyahu, comprising 451 responsa (in manuscript), 221 of which were edited by Benjamin b. Abraham *Motal and published by Aaron Galimidi, one of his descendants, under the title Zekan Aharon (Constantinople, 1734). Some of his responsa were published in the works of his contemporaries, in the responsa Oholei Tam (in Tummat Yesharim) of *Tam ibn Yaḥya, and in the Avkat Rokhel of Joseph *Caro. Benjamin Motal published Elijah's article "Kol De'i," on the laws of *asmakhta, in his collection Tummat Yesharim. Elijah edited and published the Maḥzor Romania, the liturgy in use in Greece and the neighboring countries, adding to it bakkashot, teḥinot, and other piyyutim. Benjamin Motal states that Elijah wrote thousands of poems, and the following books of poetry are known to be by him: Beit ha-Levi, Tokheḥah Megullah, Shevet ha-Musar, and Mei Zahav. The book Zekan Aharon mentions his Livyat Ḥen, which deals with ethical conduct. It is divided into three parts: Maḥaneh Leviyyah (of which one chapter was published as no. 148 of Zekan Aharon), Maḥaneh Yisrael, and Maḥaneh Shekhinah. He also prepared for publication Jacob b. Asher's Arba'ah Turim (Constantinople, 1494 or 1504) and Alfasi's code (Constantinople, 1509).


Motal, in: Elijah b. Binyamin ha-Levi, Zekan Aharon (Constantinople, 1734), introduction; Zunz, Poesie, 388–90; A. Berliner, Aus meiner Bibliothek (1898), 3–5; S. Wiener, Kohelet Moshe, 4 (1902), 441, no. 3665; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (19302), 206–9; 2 (19382), 8f.; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 363, s.v.Eliyahu ha-Levi; Gold-schmidt, in: Sefunot, 8 (1964), 205–36.

[Abraham David]

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