Mahalalel ben Shabbetai Hallelyah

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MAHALALEL BEN SHABBETAI HALLELYAH (d. after 1675), rabbi, kabbalist and Hebrew poet. Born at the beginning of the 17th century in Civitanova, Mahalalel suffered many hardships in his youth in Italy as a result of which he seems to have been compelled to wander to various places. Before 1660, he was appointed rabbi of Ancona. He was known primarily for his collection of poems and piyyutim, Hallelyah, recited in synagogues on Sabbaths and festivals. This collection also included prayers which were kabbalistic in spirit. Mahalalel and his community were ardent believers in *Shabbetai Ẓevi even after his apostasy in 1666. Two completely different versions of his hymn to Shabbetai Ẓevi and his prophet, *Nathan of Gaza, appear in Hallelyah, one version, apparently, composed before and the other after the apostasy. Some of the poems from this collection were published by S. Bernstein (see bibliography). From those of Mahalalel's letters which were also included in this collection and published in part by Bernstein, it seems that he had close ties with the great contemporary scholars in Italy. The following works by him remain in manuscript: Kodesh Hillulim, a commentary on the Pentateuch, and Hallel Gamur. Sixty-eight halakhic rulings, his responsa, are included in manuscripts (Mantua, Municipal Library, Ms. 88; Ferrara, Talmud Torah, Ms. 20/1).


S. Bernstein, in: Mizraḥ u-Ma'arav, 3 (1929), 200–2; idem, in: huca, 7 (1930), 497–536; idem: Mi-Shirei Yisrael be-Italyah (1939), 66–73, 154–6; M. Wilensky, in: Sinai, 25 (1949), 66; G. Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, 2 (1957), 404f.; idem, in: Sefer ha-Yovel Z. Wolfson (1965), 225–41.

[Abraham David]