Nethanel ben Meshullam Ha-Levi

views updated


NETHANEL BEN MESHULLAM HA-LEVI (1660/1665–1735?), Italian kabbalist. Nethanel was born in Modena and was ordained rabbi around 1685. His first rabbinical post appears to have been in his native town, during the lifetime of his father, Meshullam b. Benzion ha-Levi, a kabbalist, who was a member of the Modena rabbinate. From 1693 Nethanel was also rabbi in Lugo, Pesaro, Padua, and Cento. In 1728 he returned to Modena, apparently succeeding Ephraim Kohen of Ostrog as chief rabbi, serving in that position until his death. Some of his responsa were published in the works of his contemporaries, such as the Paḥad Yiẓḥak of Isaac *Lampronti and the Shemesh Ẓedakah (Venice, 1743) of Samson *Morpurgo. Of great importance is his responsum written in Pesaro (in Shemesh Ẓedakah, Ḥm, no. 33), in which he discusses communal taxation and intercommunity responsibility, and protests against rabbis who pass judgment on matters concerning other communities without the consent of their local rabbis. In the sphere of Kabbalah his work exhibits affinity with the thought of Moses Ḥayyim *Luzzatto. He was close to the Kabbalah circle of Abraham *Rovigo and Mordecai *Ashkenazi. His son, Ẓevi ha-levi, an emissary of the Holy Land, was one of the scholars of the yeshivah of Ḥayyim ibn *Attar in Jerusalem.


Wilensky, in: ks, 23 (1946/47), 131–9; 24 (1947/48), 160.

[Abraham David]