Ḥabiba, Joseph

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ḤABIBA, JOSEPH (beginning of the 15th century), Spanish talmudic scholar. Virtually no biographical details are known of Ḥabiba. His teachers were *Nissim b. Reuben (the Ran) and Ḥasdai *Crescas. Author of novellae to the Talmud and a commentary on Isaac *Alfasi known as the Nimmukei Yosef, he is regarded as the last of the *rishonim to comment on the Talmud and the Hilkhot ha-Rif. It was previously thought that Ḥabiba wrote commentaries only to those tractates of Alfasi on which Nissim b. Reuben did not comment, but it is now believed that his commentary covered the whole work. Only his commentaries to tractates Mo'ed Katan, Yevamot, Bava Kamma, Bava Meẓia, Bava Batra, Sanhedrin, and Makkot have been published in editions of the Talmud, but his commentaries to the tractates Megillah and Pesaḥim (1960) and to Gittin (1963) and Avodah Zarah in M.J. Blau (ed.), Shitat ha-Kadmonim al Massekhet Avodah Zarah (1969) have been published. His commentaries on Berakhot, Shabbat, Ta'anit, and Ḥullin, are still in manuscript. Of his novellae to the Talmud there have been published Shevuot (in Beit ha-Beḥirah of Menahem ha-Meiri; Leghorn, 1795), and Ketubbot and Nedarim (in the Ishei ha-Shem, ibid., 1795, new ed. 1960).

In his commentary Ḥabiba usually quotes the geonim, the Spanish *posekim until *Jacob b. Asher, and Yom Tov *Vidal of Tolosa. According to Malachi ha-Kohen (in his Yad Malakhi), Ḥabiba differs from Nissim in that he quotes the aforementioned authors and Yom Tov b. Abraham *Ishbili, and in that he commences each of the novellae with "the author says" and concludes with "thus far the words of the author," something not found in the works of other rishonim. It is this characteristic, as well as the numerous quotations from the works of Yom Tov Ishbili and Asher b. Jehiel, which serve as indubitable indications of the author of the Nimmukei Yosef. Ḥabiba's style is direct and succinct. Some see his commentaries as aimed at encouraging the study of Talmud rather than the Hilkhot ha-Rif, which, through its wide circulation, tended to displace the study of the Talmud. Consequently Nimmukei Yosef is regarded as a supplement rather than a commentary, the addition of passages of the Talmud omitted by Alfasi making the talmudic text readily available to the student. The Nimmukei Yosef is a valuable source for clarifying the opinions and approach of various rishonim, since in addition to quoting from their actual works he also gives oral traditions handed down by their pupils. He was highly regarded in later generations as an authoritative posek.


Malachi b. Jacob ha-Kohen, Yad Malakhi (Przemysl, 1888 ed.), 154d; Weiss, Dor, 5 (19044), 760f.; H. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 1 (1946), 163f.; M.J. Blau (ed.), in: J. Ḥabiba, Nimmukei Yosef al Massekhtot Megillah u-Fesaḥim (1960), introd.; M. Margalioth (ed.), Hilkhot ha-Nagid (1962), 79; Waxman, Literature, 2 (1960), 112.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]