Moses ben Levi

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MOSES BEN LEVI (12th century), communal leader and poet in *Egypt. From fragments of the Cairo *Genizah, it has become clear that Moses was in charge of the affairs of the Jewish community of Qalyub, north of *Cairo. In 1195 the heads of the Jewish community there addressed themselves to *Sar Shalom b. Moses ha-Levi, the Gaon of the Fostat yeshivah, with a request that he confirm the appointment of Moses b. Levi as officer in charge of communal affairs after his position had been challenged. In his reply, the gaon praises Moses, who also served in the offices of ḥazzan, shoḥet, and teacher of the community. An autobiographical *maqāma by Moses is extant in the Kaufmann collection of the Genizah, which reveals details of his life before his arrival in Qalyub. At first he occupied himself with various matters, but after a time he immersed himself in Torah study alone. Two and a half years later he decided to leave his locality, the identity of which is unknown, after a quarrel with his parents. Reaching Qalyub, he was amazed at its beauty and wrote poems in its praise. He appears to be identical with Moses b. ha-Levi from whom there remains a blank verse poem (Ar. muwashshaḥ).


Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 237; 2 (1922), 298; D.Z. Banet, in: Sefer ha-Yovel… A. Marx (1950), 77–79; J.H. Schirmann, Shirim Ḥadashim min ha-Genizah (1965), 377–84.

[Abraham David]

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Moses ben Levi

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