Ephraim ben Jacob Ha-Kohen

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EPHRAIM BEN JACOB HA-KOHEN

EPHRAIM BEN JACOB HA-KOHEN (1616–1678), rabbinic authority. Ephraim served as a judge in Vilna together with *Shabbetai Kohen and Aaron Samuel *Koidanover in the bet din of his teacher, Moses Ben Isaac Judah *Lima. During the Swedish War (1655), Ephraim fled from Vilna to Velke Mezerici in Moravia. From there he went to Prague, where he established a yeshivah. He then moved to Vienna, remaining there until 1666, when he was appointed head of the bet din in Ofen (Buda). There he established a famous yeshivah and corresponded with some of the most prominent rabbis of his time, including those of Turkey and Ereẓ Israel, among them Moses *Galante and Moses ibn *Ḥabib. Toward the end of his life he was invited to the rabbinate of the Ashkenazi congregation of Jerusalem, a position which, 80 years earlier, his grandfather R. Ephraim ha-Kohen had held. He died, however, before he could take up the position. Ephraim was one of the great legal authorities of his generation. His decisions on many questions, civil, domestic, and religious, helped influence Jewish life in several countries for a number of generations. His only published work is his responsa, Sha'ar Efrayim on the Shulḥan Arukh, published by his son Aryeh Loeb (Sulzbach, 1689). Other works have remained in manuscript. Ephraim was the grandfather of Ẓevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi, the "Ḥakham Ẓevi."

bibliography:

D. Kaufmann, Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien … (1889), 62; Even ha-Me'ir, 2 (1907), 27f., no. 148; J.J. (L.) Greenwald (Grunwald), Sefer Toledot Ḥakhmei Yisrael, Kolel Toledot R. Efrayim ha-Kohen mi-Vilna (1924); Frumkin-Rivlin, 1 (1929), 107f.; H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Maehrens (1929), 227f.

[Aharon Fuerst]