Lev (Lab; Leb), Joseph ben David ibn

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LEV (Lab ; Leb ), JOSEPH BEN DAVID IBN (also known as the MaHaRIVaL , for M orenu H a-R av Y osef ib n L ev; 1505–1580), Turkish rabbi and posek. Lev was born in Monastir (now Bitolj, Macedonia). Nothing is known of his early life, but he was appointed dayyan in his native town while still quite young. Because of a quarrel with a colleague on the bet din he moved to Salonika in 1534, where he became embroiled with Solomon ibn Hasson. Lev fought vigorously against the powerful and wealthy who oppressed the common people. Following his dispute with the Jewish tyrant Baruch of Salonika, his son David was murdered by hired assassins in 1545. His second son Moses drowned. These events and the hostile attitude of his opponents caused him to move in 1550 to Constantinople, where he remained until his death. There he was appointed teacher in the yeshivah founded by Doña Gracia (Mendes) *Nasi. In 1556 he was taken ill and from 1561 was unable to continue regular teaching in the yeshivah. At the instigation of Gracia and Joseph Nasi, in retaliation for the adverse stand of Pope *Paul iv against the Marranos of Ancona, Lev compiled a responsum in which he supported the banning of trade with Ancona and the taking of reprisals against the papal kingdom, in contrast to Joshua Soncino, one of the opponents of the ban.

Lev at first planned the compilation of a work in the manner of the Beit Yosef of Joseph *Caro. When in 1551 the Beit Yosef was published, he forbade its use out of fear that it would lead to a decrease in the study of the Talmud. However, when on one occasion he could not remember one of the sources of the Arba'ah Turim and found it in the Beit Yosef, he changed his attitude and realized the value of the work. His responsa, in four parts, were first published separately but then together in Amsterdam in 1726. A new edition of the responsa in two volumes appeared in Jerusalem in 1959/60. Lev attributes many glosses to his son David out of a desire to perpetuate his memory, but it is probable that he himself was the author of most of them. He was highly thought of by contemporary scholars.


S.M. Chones, Toledot ha-Posekim (1929), 560; C. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 2 (1947), 220; 3 (1948), 35; I.S. Emmanuel, Histoire des Israélites de Salonique (1936), 151–64, 219; Rosanes, Togarmah, 2 (1938), 77–78, 80, 82, 89–91; M.S. Goodblatt, Jewish Life in Turkey in the 16th Century (1952), 18, 92–93; I. Sonne, Mi-Paulus ha-Revi'i ad Pius ha-Ḥamishi (1954), 146, 148, 155, 158; M. Molcho, Salonika, Ir va-Em be-Yisrael (1967), 13; idem, in: Sinai, 48 (1961), 290–8; S. Assaf, ibid., 1 (1937), 7; A. Danon, in: rej, 41 (1900), 102–3.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]