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Ẓahalon

ẒAHALON

ẒAHALON , Sephardi family, which after the expulsion from Spain settled in Italy and in Near Eastern countries. Many of them were scholars, rabbis, and physicians. abraham ben isaac Ẓahalon (16th century) was a talmudic scholar and kabbalist. He wrote Yad Ḥaruẓim (Venice, 1595), a work on the calendar, and Yesha Elohim (ibid., 1595), a commentary on the Book of Esther. In the introduction to his Marpe la-Nefesh (ibid., 1595), a moralistic work based on kabbalistic principles, he complained that he had to travel much, wandering from place to place to find his livelihood. He completed this work in Baghdad in 1593.

jacob ben isaac zahalon (1630–1693) was born in Rome, where he also received a medical education and the degree of artium ac medicinae doctor at the university. In 1682 he became rabbi of Ferrara. His best-known work is Oẓar ha-Ḥayyim (Venice, 1683), a manual of medicine, which was the third part of a greater work, Oẓar ha-Ḥokhmot. It was divided into 13 parts, the last part, on mental diseases, remaining unpublished because of lack of funds. With the medical information, he also stresses the ethical side of medical practice, gives practical advice to physicians, and urges them to recite weekly the physician's prayer he had composed. In addition he wrote Margaliyyot Tovot (ibid., 1665), an abridgment of the Hovot ha-Levavot of Baḥya ibn Paquda in 30 parts so that one may read a part a day and complete it monthly. Each part ends with a prayer. In the introduction he mentions eight of his works that were in manuscript. He also wrote a number of responsa which are found in Teshuvot ha-Remez of Moses *Zacuto, in the Paḥad Yiẓhak of Isaac *Lampronti, and in Afar Ya'akov of Nathaniel Segre. He also translated into Hebrew a work of Thomas Aquinas. Jacob was the first in Italy to stress the value of preaching in the synagogue. On November 18, 1656, during the plague in Rome, when the synagogue was closed, he preached from a window to an assemblage on the street. Many of his sermons are extant in manuscript. The Margaliyyot Tovot contains a prayer for preachers.

mordecai ben jacob zahalon (d. 1748), his son, succeeded him as rabbi in Ferrara. He was also a physician. He wrote responsa, which were published under the title Meẓiẓ u-Meliẓ (Venice, 1715); some of them also appear in the Paḥad Yiẓḥak and the Shemesh Ẓedakah of Samson Morpurgo. He composed a number of piyyutim, some of which were included in the service of the Ferrara synagogues. He also wrote Megillat Naharot (n.p. 1707), the story of the deliverance of the Jews during a great flood in Ferrara.

yom tov ben moses zahalon (1559–1619/20) was one of the distinguished rabbis of Safed. He was ordained by R. Jacob Berab ii (the grandson of Jacob *Berabi). He served as an emissary of that town between 1590 and 1600, visiting Italy and Holland. After returning to Safed, he was sent to Egypt and Constantinople, where he wrote some 600 responsa, many of which were published by his grandson Yom Tov b. Akiva, a rabbi in Constantinople in the second half of the 17th century, who appended to the volume his own novellae to chapters five and six of Bava Meẓia (Venice, 1694). Of interest are Yom Tov b. Moses' responsa to some of the communities of the Orient who sought his advice. Though himself a Sephardi, in a controversy between Sephardim and Ashkenazim he took the part of the Ashkenazim. Though a student of Joseph Caro, when the Shulḥan Arukh appeared, he disapproved of it, attacking it as a work for children and laymen.

Of his books the following should be especially noted: 1. Magen Avot: Commentary on Avot deRabbi Natan (in the Oxford Bodleian Ms.). 2. Lekaḥ Tov: Commentary on the Scroll of Esther (Safed, 1577). This was the first book published in Safed; it was published for a second time in a photocopied edition (Jerusalem, 1976). This work contains a long commentary on the sages' sermons on the Scroll of Esther, constituting both a literal and homiletic interpretation. 3. Novellae on tractate Bava Kamma. Chapters 5–6 were printed at the end of his responsa (Venice, 1964). 4. A total of 296 of his responsa were printed by Rabbi Yom Tov ben Akiva Ẓahalon in the Venice edition; another 240 responsa can be found in the Oxford Ms. and were published by the Jerusalem Institute (Jerusalem, 1980–81) in two volumes. The responsa deal mostly with subjects pertaining to Hilkhot Even haEzer and Ḥoshen Mishpat in the Shulḥan Arukh. Yom Tov Ẓahalon's responsa were accepted as law. They contain historical information and details of customs and reforms in Safed and the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities in Jerusalem, particularly the inferior position of the latter in comparison with the Ashkenzi community when it came to the distribution of charitable donations.

Ẓahalon reveals himself as forceful, uncompromising and sometimes sharp-tongued, though he tends to accept the opinions of earlier sages. He often disagrees with the rulings of Joseph Caro in the Shulḥan Arukh but also explains at times the language and reasoning of the Shulḥan Arukh.

bibliography:

Vogelstein-Rieger, 2 (1895), 268–70; Savitz, in: New England Journal of Medicine, 213 (1935), 167–76; H. Friedenwald, The Jews and Medicine, 1 (1944), 268–79 (on Jacob); L.M. Herbert, in: Harofe Haivri, 1 (1954), 98–106. on yom tov b. moses: Yaari, Sheluḥei, 238–40; Benayahu, in: Kobez al Jad, 15 (1951), 139–93; Nissim, in: Sefunot, 9 (1964), 9–20. add. bibliography: D. Tamar, Introduction to Lekaḥ Tov (1976), 22–26; Y. Sh. Spiegel, Introduction to Ẓahalon's Responsa (1980), 13–31.

[Isaac Klein /

Yehoshua Horowitz (2 nd ed.)]

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