Zephaniah ben Mordecai

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ZEPHANIAH BEN MORDECAI (16th century.), one of the first Karaite scholars from Lithuania. Zephaniah was a spiritual leader and served as a ḥazzan of the Troki community in the middle of the 16th century. He was a great-grandson of the scholar Samuel Politi from Adrianople (Turkey). Zephaniah was an authority on halakhah and established new regulations about calendation, which were accepted by part of the Karaites in Polish-Lithuanian communities. He was also a teacher of Torah and had many disciples, one of whom was the young Isaac ben Abraham *Troki. Zephaniah was the author of the following works: She'elot u-Teshuvot be-Hilkhot Sheḥitah (ios b 563 (jnul, mic. 53737)) about ritual slaughter; Kiddush ha-Ḥodesh ve-Seder ha-Ibbur be-Kiẓẓur, about calendation. He also composed several liturgical poems. According to A. *Firkovich, in 1528 Zephaniah asked King Sigismund i "to return him his fields and his lands, which had been granted to him by previous kings. The king satisfied his request, confirming his charter, and ordered his servants to return to Zephaniah all the fields which had belonged to him in the past (Avnei Zikkaron, (1872), 254), but we have no evidence from other sources confirming this information.


G. Akhiezer and I. Dvorkin, in: Pe'amim, 98–99 (2004), 238–99; G. Akhiezer and D. Shapira, in: Pe'amim, 89 (2001), 38–39; B. Gottlober, Bikkoret le-Toledot ha-Kara'im (1865), 209; A. Neubauer, Aus der Petersburger Bibliothek (1866), 75.

[Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)]