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Kalai (Kali), Mordecai ben Solomon


KALAI (Kali), MORDECAI BEN SOLOMON (1556–1647), Salonikan talmudist. The family name derives from Calatayud in Spain. Kalai was born in Salonika, and studied under Aaron ben Ḥason and Aaron Sason. His manuscripts were destroyed in the great fire in Salonika in 1625, but he resumed writing. He was known as a capable communal leader, being active in the ransoming of captives and other charitable and benevolent activities. Among his many disciples who later served as rabbis in the cities of Peloponnesus were Daniel *Estrosa and David *Conforte. Kalai's responsa were included in the Mekor Barukh (Smyrna, 1659) of his brother Baruch, published by the latter's son. Kalai is quoted by many of his contemporaries, including Joshua Handali, Ḥayyim *Shabbetai (Maharḥash), and Judah Lerma, and by Solomon *Levi and Joseph of *Trani in their responsa. Mordecai's brother, baruch (d. 1597), who also studied under Aaron ben Ḥason, was rabbi of Siderocapsa, near Salonika. Mekor Barukh contains 61 responsa which consist of halakhic discussions with his teacher, and with Solomon Levi the Elder, in addition to those with his brother. He also wrote Arba Shitot, on four tractates of the Talmud, and left an unpublished volume of sermons on Sabbaths and festivals.


Conforte, Kore, index; I.S. Emmanuel, Maẓevot Saloniki, i:1 (1963), 296f.; M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1938), 627, 749; Rosanes, Togarmah, 3 (1938), 172–4, 194.

[Simon Marcus]

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