Somekh, Abdallah ben Abraham

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SOMEKH, ABDALLAH BEN ABRAHAM (1813–1889), rabbi and posek of Baghdad. Abdallah was born in *Baghdad and was a pupil of Jacob b. Joseph ha-Rofe. At first he engaged in business, acquiring considerable wealth. When he perceived that the study of Torah was being neglected, however, he abandoned his business and devoted himself to the dissemination of learning. He founded the bet midrash Abu Menashe which was established with funds provided by the philanthropist Ezekiel b. Reuben Manasseh, after whom it was named. In 1840 he founded, with the help of the same philanthropist, the renowned Midrash Bet Zilkhah. He died in a plague that swept through Baghdad, and was buried there, against the orders of the government, in the court of the traditional tomb of the high priest Joshua. This caused an outbreak of riots, in consequence of which rabbis and communal leaders were imprisoned. After three months, Somekh's body had to be exhumed and buried in another cemetery.

Somekh was regarded as the supreme halakhic authority by communities of Baghdadi origin throughout the Far East. He was the author of Zivḥei Ẓedek (2 pts., 1899), halakhic decisions on the Yoreh De'ah with appended responsa. In manuscript are two more parts of the same work; Eẓ ha-Sadeh on the tractate Beẓah; novellae on most tractates of the Talmud; a commentary on the Passover Haggadah; Ḥazon la-Mo'ed, on the calendar; and responsa.


A. Ben-Yaacob, Toledot ha-Rav Abdallah Somekh (1949); idem, Yehudei Bavel (1965), index.

[Abraham Ben-Yaacob]