Kimḥi, Raphael Israel ben Joseph

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KIMḤI, RAPHAEL ISRAEL BEN JOSEPH (first half of 18th century), emissary of Safed. Kimḥi was born in Constantinople where he studied under Ḥayyim b. Isaac Raphael *Alfandari. When his teacher moved to Ereẓ Israel in 1713 he followed him and settled in Safed, where he studied under Jacob Vilna Ashkenazi. In 1728 he traveled to Italy as an emissary of the Safed community and was in Mantua in 1729. In Padua he was a guest of the father of Moses Ḥayyim *Luzzatto, where he immersed himself in Luzzatto's works and in the polemic (of 1730) which raged about them, justifying Luzzatto's views. A responsum written by him to Raphael *Meldola during this visit – in Venice 1730 – on the laws of writing a *Sefer Torah is included in Mayim Rabbim (1737). From Venice, Kimḥi sent a letter to Corfu (1730) in which he complained of discrimination against Safed in the matter of contributions assigned to Ereẓ Israel. In his letter he stresses the critical situation of the Safed community and demands greater interest in the lot of his town as against the other "holy towns." Kimḥi was requested by the Safed community to go to Corfu, but the Venetian rabbis persuaded him to delay this journey because of the state of his health and promised to undertake the task themselves in Corfu. He died during his mission, apparently before 1737. In that year his brother Abraham published from his literary remains the Avodat Yisrael on the order of the Temple service on the Day of Atonement. Comments on this work are to be found in the Shifat Revivim (1788) of David *Pardo, who also mentions it in his Shoshannim le-David (1752). Besides this Kimḥi left a commentary in manuscript called Einei Yisrael on the Sefer Mitzvot Katan which was seen by Ḥ.J.D. Azulai.


Rosanes, Togarmah, 5 (1937–38), 291–2; Yaari, Sheluḥei, 433–5; I. Ben-Zvi, in: Sinai, 27 (1950), 80–86; idem, in: Sinai Sefer Yovel (1958), 13–26.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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Kimḥi, Raphael Israel ben Joseph

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