Nahrai ben Nissim

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NAHRAI BEN NISSIM (11th century), community leader of the Iraqi Jews in Cairo. Nahrai, who was originally from *Kairouan, settled in Egypt where he became a wealthy merchant. He maintained commercial ties with several countries and specialized in the export of such precious goods as spices, pearls, and indigo to Tunisia and Sicily. However, he was also a scholar with halakhic experience and religious and legal questions were addressed to him. He was referred to as "The eminent Rabbi, the greatest of the yeshivah." He is mentioned in documents dated between 1048–95. Nearly 200 letters addressed to him were found in the genizah of Fostat; these arecertainly only a part of his original archives.


Mann, Egypt, index; Starr, in: Zion, 1 (1935/36), 436–53; Strauss, ibid., 7 (1941/42), 151–5; M. Michael, "The Archives of Nahrai b. Nissim" (1965, thesis, Hebrew University); S.D. Goitein, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions (1966), 287, 295, 321; idem, A Mediterranean Society (1967), index; idem, in: Tarbiz, 36 (1966/67), 59ff.

[Eliyahu Ashtor]