Ṣaliḥ, Yaḥya (Yihye) ben Joseph

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ṢALIḤ, YAḤYA (Yihye ) BEN JOSEPH (Maharis ; c. 1715), Yemenite scholar; av bet din and rabbi of *Sanʿa. His authority was recognized by all the Yemenite Jewish communities and even by the distant community of *India. Many halakhic questions were addressed to him from all parts of *Yemen. They all received clear and complete replies, the fruits of his meditation and casuistry, in which the legal point was clarified. He would not accept a salary from his rabbinate, and he earned his livelihood with difficulty as a Torah scribe. His work was artistic, and some of it is extant in various manuscripts. J. *Saphir, who visited Yemen in 1859, mentions the esteem and love which Yemenite Jewry accorded him: "his name is renowned throughout Yemen and his decisions are accepted as the law given by Moses at Sinai" (Ḥadrei Teiman, Lyell 1866, 101b).

He wrote Zevaḥ Todah, novellae and explanations on Shulḥan Arukh Yoreh De'ah, the laws of ritual slaughter (1851); Sha'arei Kedushah, a summary of Zevaḥ Todah in the form of legal decisions which was written to facilitate its study by shoḥatim and pupils (1841); Ḥelek ha-Dikduk (or Toẓe'ot Ḥayyim), biblical masorah, with punctuation and musical cantillation (published in full length by C.D. Ginsberg, Ha-Masorah, 3 (1885), 53–105); the section on the Pentateuch and haftarot was published in the editions of the Yemenite Taj (from 1889), Sha'arei Tohorah, the laws of niddah – written in Arabic, the prevalent tongue among women and the masses (1894); Eẓ Ḥayyim, a commentary on the Tiklāl (siddur of the prayers of the whole year), according to the plain and esoteric meaning (1894); Pe'ullat Ẓaddik, responsa and legal novellae on the four Turim (3 vols., 1946–45) – the most important collection of Yemenite Jewry's responsa literature, containing 762 responsa which he dealt with during a period of about 40 years (1764–1803); Me'il Katan, a commentary on the Shenei Luḥot ha-Berit of R. Isaiah *Horowitz; and Oraḥ la-Ḥayyim, a collection of Midrashim and explanations on three megillot, in symbolic and esoteric style (in manuscript). He wrote a chronicle of Yemenite Jewry (published by David Sassoon, see bibliography).


Bacher, in: jqr, 14 (1901/02), 581–621, 240; Sassoon, in: hḤy, 7 (1923), 1–14; A. Koraḥ, Sa'arat Teiman (1954), 19–23; S. Geridi, Mi-Teiman le-Ẓiyyon (1938), 134–8; Y. Ratzaby, in: Shevut-Teiman (1945), 100–17; idem, Bo'i Teiman (1967), 248–73; idem, in: Afikim, 5 (July 7, 1965).

[Yehuda Ratzaby]