Chaim Yosef David החיד"א – חיים יוסף דוד David Azulai אזולאי, CHIDA (1724 - 1806) MP

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Birthplace: Jerusalem, Eretz Israel
Death: Died in Livorno, Toscana, Italy
Managed by: Daniel Azulay
Last Updated:

About Chaim Yosef David החיד"א – חיים יוסף דוד David Azulai אזולאי, CHIDA

The Chida, Chaim Joseph David ben Isaac Zerachia Azulai (1724 – 21 March 1807) (Hebrew: חיים יוסף דוד אזולאי), commonly known as the Chida (by the acronym of his name, חיד"א), was a rabbinical scholar and a noted bibliophile, who pioneered the history of Jewish religious writings.

Biography

He was born in Jerusalem, where he received his education from some local prominent scholars. He was the scion of a prominent rabbinic family, the grandson of Rabbi Abraham Azulai. His main teachers were the Yishuv haYashan rabbis Isaac ha-Kohen Rapoport, Rashash, and Chaim ibn Attar (the Ohr ha-Chaim). At an early age he showed proficiency in Talmud, Kabbalah, and Jewish history.

Traveler

In 1755, he was — on the basis of his scholarship — elected to become an emissary (shaliach) for the small Jewish community in the Land of Israel, and he would travel around Europe extensively, making an impression in every Jewish community that he visited. According to some records, he left the Land of Israel three times (1755, 1770, and 1781), living in Hebron in the meantime. His travels took him to Western Europe, North Africa, and — according to legend — to Lithuania, where he met the Vilna Gaon.

In 1755 he was in Germany, in 1764 he was in Egypt, and in 1773 he was in Tunis, Morocco, and Italy. He seems to have remained in latter country until 1777, most probably occupied with the printing of the first part of his biographical dictionary, Shem ha-Gedolim, (Livorno, 1774), and with his notes on the Shulchan Aruch, entitled Birke Yosef, (Livorno, 1774-76). In 1777 he was in France, and in 1778 in Holland. Wherever he went, he would examine collections of manuscripts of rabbinic literature, which he later documented in his Shem ha-Gedolim.

On 28 October 1778 he married, in Pisa, his second wife, Rachel; his first wife, Sarah, had died in 1773. Noting this event in his diary, he adds the wish that he may be permitted to return to Palestine. This wish seems not to have been realized. At all events he remained in Leghorn (Livorno), occupied with the publication of his works, and died there. He had been married twice; he had two sons by the names of Abraham and Raphael Isaiah Azulai.

His early scholarship

While in general a type of the Oriental rabbi of his age, a strict Talmudist, and a believer in the Kabbalah, his studious habits and exceptional memory awakened in him an interest in the history of rabbinical literature.

He accordingly began at an early age a compilation of passages in rabbinical literature in which dialectic authors had tried to solve questions that were based on chronological errors. This compilation he called העלם דבר (Some Oversights); it was never printed.

Azulai's scholarship made him so famous that in 1755 he was chosen as meshulach, (emissary), an honor bestowed on such men only as were, by their learning, well fitted to represent the Holy Land in Europe, where the people looked upon a rabbi from the land of Israel as a model of learning and piety.

Azulai's literary activity is of an astonishing breadth. It embraces every department of rabbinical literature: exegesis, homiletics, casuistry, Kabbalah, liturgics, and literary history. A voracious reader, he noted all historical references; and on his travels he visited the famous libraries of Italy and France, where he examined the Hebrew manuscripts.

His works

As a writer Azulai was most prolific. The list of his works, compiled by Isaac Benjacob, runs to seventy-one items; but some are named twice, because they have two titles, and some are only small treatises. The veneration bestowed upon him by his contemporaries was that given to a saint.

He reports in his diary that when he learned in Tunis of the death of his first wife, he kept it secret, because the people would have forced him to marry at once. Legends printed in the appendix to his diary, and others found in Aaron Walden's Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash (compare also Ma'aseh Nora, pp. 7-16, Podgorica, 1899), prove the great respect in which he was held. Many of his works are still extant and studied today.

His scope was exceptionally wide, from halakha (Birkei Yosef) and Midrash to his main historical work Shem ha-Gedolim. Despite his Sephardi heritage, he appears to have been particularly fond of the Chassidei Ashkenaz (a group Medieval German rabbis, notably Judah the Chassid).

His Role As ShaDar

The Chida's role as shadar (shelicha derabanan), or emissary, and major Jewish traveler of his day is a little known or appreciated aspect of his life. He left Israel twice on five year long fundraising missions that took him as far west as Tunisia and as far north as Great Britain and Amsterdam. His mission: Raise money for the support and survival of the beleaguered Jewish community of Hebron. At that time, the Jewish community of Hebron, as well as other communities in Israel, suffered the brutal and constant privations of Arab and Turkish landlords and warlords who demanded exorbitant sums of money in the form of arbitrary and draconian taxes. Moreover, money and work in that part of the world were very hard to come by. Without the missions of people like the Chida, the very physical survival of these communities came into question.

Yet the task of raising the necessary funds was much more complicated than most people realize. The right candidate for the mission, ideally, combined the characteristics of statesmanship, physical strength and endurance, Torah knowledge and understanding and the ability to speak multiple languages. They had to have the right stature and bearing to impress the Jewish communities they visited, they often had to be able to arbitrate matters of Jewish law for the locals and, ideally, they were multi-lingual so that they could communicate with both Jew and Gentile along the way.

Finally, they had to be willing to undertake the dangerous, time consuming mission that would take them away from their families for so long. At that time, travel was far more time consuming and much more dangerous than it is today, especially for Jews. One in ten emissaries sent abroad for these fund raising missions never made it back alive. Emissaries would often divorce their wives before leaving, so that if they died along the way and their passing could not be verified, their wives would be able to legally remarry. If they returned safely from their journey, they would remarry their wives, who would sometimes wait as long as five years for their husbands to return from their mission.

Moreover, the Chida records numerous instances of miraculous survival and dangerous threats of his day, among them, close scrapes with the Russian Navy during its support of the Ali Bey uprising against the Turks, the danger of boarding and worse by the Knights of Malta, the possible anger of English government officials against someone entering the country from France or Spain as well as those aforementioned countries' wrath against someone crossing back over from their hated enemy, England, and the daily danger of running into various anti-semitic locals and nobles throughout mainland Europe (especially Germany).

No discussion of the Chida's bravery and accomplishment during his fund raising missions is complete without mentioning his intact and published travel diaries, which places him in the ranks of Benjamin of Tudela in terms of providing a comprehensive first hand account of Jewish life and historical events throughout the Europe and Near East of his day. His Shem ha-Gedolim His notes were published in four booklets, comprising two sections, under the titles Shem ha-Gedolim (The Name of the Great Ones), containing the names of authors, and Wa'ad la-Ḥakamim (Assembly of the Wise), containing the titles of works.

This treatise has established for Azulai a lasting place in Jewish literature. It contains data that might otherwise have been lost, and it proves the author to have had a critical mind. By sound scientific methods he investigated the question of the genuineness of Rashi's commentary to Chronicles or to some Talmudic treatise (see "Rashi," in Shem ha-Gedolim).

However, he does assert that Rashi indeed is the author of the "Rashi" commentary on Neviim and Kesuvim, contrary to other's opinion. Nevertheless he firmly believed that Chaim Vital had drunk water from Miriam's well, and that this fact enabled him to receive, in less than two years, the whole Kabbalah from the lips of Isaac Luria (see "Ḥayyim Vital," in Shem ha-Gedolim). Azulai often records where he has seen in person which versions of certain manuscripts were extant.

Bibliography

  • A complete bibliographical list of his works is found in the preface to Benjacob's edition of Shem ha-Gedolim, Vilna, 1852, and frequently reprinted;
  • Eliakim Carmoly, in the edition of Shem ha-Gedolim, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1843;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 342;
  • Hazan, Hama'alot li-Shelomoh, Alexandria, 1894;
  • Aaron Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-chadash, 1879;
  • the diary Ma'agal Tob, edited by Elijah Benamozegh, Leghorn, 1879;
  • Heimann Joseph Michael, Or ha-chayyim, No. 868.

MyHeritage -------------------- Haim Yosef David Azulai ben Isaac Zerachia (1724 – 1 March 1806) (Hebrew: חיים יוסף דוד אזולאי), commonly known as the Hida (by the acronym of his name, חיד"א), was a Jerusalem born rabbinical scholar, a noted bibliophile, and a pioneer in the publication of Jewish religious writings.

Biography

Haim Yosef David Azulai was born in Jerusalem, where he received his education from some local prominent scholars. He was the scion of a prominent rabbinic family, the great-great-grandson of Rabbi Abraham Azulai. His main teachers were the Yishuv haYashan rabbis Isaac HaKohen Rapoport, Shalom Sharabi, and Haim ibn Attar (the Ohr HaHaim). At an early age he showed proficiency in Talmud, Kabbalah, and Jewish history.

In 1755, he was — on the basis of his scholarship — elected to become an emissary (shaliach) for the small Jewish community in the Land of Israel, and he would travel around Europe extensively, making an impression in every Jewish community that he visited. According to some records, he left the Land of Israel three times (1755, 1770, and 1781), living in Hebron in the meantime. His travels took him to Western Europe, North Africa, and — according to legend — to Lithuania, where he met the Vilna Gaon.

In 1755 he was in Germany, in 1764 he was in Egypt, and in 1773 he was in Tunis, Morocco, and Italy. He seems to have remained in latter country until 1777, most probably occupied with the printing of the first part of his biographical dictionary, Shem HaGedolim, (Livorno, 1774), and with his notes on the Shulhan Aruch, entitled Birke Yosef, (Livorno, 1774–76). In 1777 he was in France, and in 1778 in Holland. Wherever he went, he would examine collections of manuscripts of rabbinic literature, which he later documented in his Shem HaGedolim.

On 28 October 1778 he married, in Pisa, his second wife, Rachel; his first wife, Sarah, had died in 1773. Noting this event in his diary, he adds the wish that he may be permitted to return to Palestine. This wish seems not to have been realized. In any event, he remained in Leghorn (Livorno), occupied with the publication of his works, and died there eight years later in 1806 (11 Adar 5566). He had been married twice; he had two sons by the names of Abraham and Raphael Isaiah Azulai.

His early scholarship

While in general a type of the Oriental rabbi of his age, a strict Talmudist, and a believer in the Kabbalah, his studious habits and exceptional memory awakened in him an interest in the history of rabbinical literature.

He accordingly began at an early age a compilation of passages in rabbinical literature in which dialectic authors had tried to solve questions that were based on chronological errors. This compilation he called העלם דבר (Some Oversights); it was never printed.

Azulai's scholarship made him so famous that in 1755 he was chosen as meshullach, (emissary), an honor bestowed on such men only as were, by their learning, well fitted to represent the Holy Land in Europe, where the people looked upon a rabbi from the land of Israel as a model of learning and piety.

Azulai's literary activity is of an astonishing breadth. It encompasses every area of rabbinic literature: exegesis, homiletics, casuistry, Kabbalah, liturgics, and literary history. A voracious reader, he noted all historical references; and on his travels he visited the famous libraries of Italy and France, where he examined the Hebrew manuscripts.

His works

As a writer Azulai was most prolific. His works range from a prayerbook he edited and arranged ('Tefillat Yesharim') to a vast spectrum of Halachic literature including a commentary on the Shulhan Aruch titled 'Birkei Yosef' which appears in most editions. While living and traveling in Italy, he printed many works, mainly in Livorno and Pisa but also in Mantua. The list of his works, compiled by Isaac Benjacob, runs to seventy-one items; but some are named twice, because they have two titles, and some are only small treatises. The veneration bestowed upon him by his contemporaries was that given to a saint. He reports in his diary that when he learned in Tunis of the death of his first wife, he kept it secret, because the people would have forced him to marry at once. Legends printed in the appendix to his diary, and others found in Aaron Walden's Shem HaGedolim HeḤadash (compare also Ma'aseh Nora, pp. 7–16, Podgorica, 1899), prove the great respect in which he was held. Many of his works are still extant and studied today. His scope was exceptionally wide, from halakha (Birkei Yosef) and Midrash to his main historical work Shem HaGedolim. Despite his Sephardi heritage, he appears to have been particularly fond of the Chasidei Ashkenaz (a group Medieval German rabbis, notably Judah the Chasid).

His role as Shadar

The Hida's role as shadar (sheliha derabanan), or emissary, and major Jewish traveler of his day is a little known or appreciated aspect of his life. He left Israel twice on five year long fundraising missions that took him as far west as Tunisia and as far north as Great Britain and Amsterdam. His mission: Raise money for the support and survival of the beleaguered Jewish community of Hebron. At that time, the Jewish community of Hebron, as well as other communities in Israel, suffered the brutal and constant privations of Arab and Turkish landlords and warlords who demanded exorbitant sums of money in the form of arbitrary and draconian taxes. Moreover, money and work in that part of the world were very hard to come by. Without the missions of people like the Hida, the very physical survival of these communities came into question.

Yet the task of raising the necessary funds was much more complicated than most people realize. The right candidate for the mission, ideally, combined the characteristics of statesmanship, physical strength and endurance, Torah knowledge and understanding and the ability to speak multiple languages. They had to have the right stature and bearing to impress the Jewish communities they visited, they often had to be able to arbitrate matters of Jewish law for the locals and, ideally, they were multi-lingual so that they could communicate with both Jew and Gentile along the way. Finally, they had to be willing to undertake the dangerous, time consuming mission that would take them away from their families for so long. At that time, travel was far more time consuming and much more dangerous than it is today, especially for Jews. One in ten emissaries sent abroad for these fund raising missions never made it back alive. Emissaries would often divorce their wives before leaving, so that if they died along the way and their deaths could not be verified, their wives would be able to legally remarry. If they returned safely from their journey, they would remarry their wives, who would sometimes wait as long as five years for their husbands to return from their mission.

Moreover, the Hida records numerous instances of miraculous survival and dangerous threats of his day, among them, close scrapes with the Russian Navy during its support of the Ali Bey uprising against the Turks, the danger of boarding and worse by the Knights of Malta, the possible anger of English government officials towards anyone entering the country from France or Spain, as well as those aforementioned countries' wrath against someone crossing back over from their hated enemy, England, and the daily danger of running into various anti-semitic locals and nobles throughout mainland Europe (especially Germany).

No discussion of the Hida's bravery and accomplishment during his fund raising missions is complete without mentioning his intact and published travel diaries, which places him in the ranks of Benjamin of Tudela in terms of providing a comprehensive first hand account of Jewish life and historical events throughout the Europe and Near East of his day.

Shem HaGedolim

His notes were published in four booklets, comprising two sections, under the titles Shem HaGedolim (The Name of the Great Ones), containing the names of authors, and Wa'ad la-Ḥakamim (Assembly of the Wise), containing the titles of works. This treatise has established for Azulai a lasting place in Jewish literature. It contains data that might otherwise have been lost, and it proves the author to have had a critical mind. By sound scientific methods he investigated the question of the genuineness of Rashi's commentary to Chronicles or to some Talmudic treatise (see "Rashi," in Shem HaGedolim). However, he does assert that Rashi indeed is the author of the "Rashi" commentary on Neviim and Ketuvim, contrary to others' opinions.

Nevertheless he firmly believed that Haim Vital had drunk water from Miriam's well, and that this fact enabled him to receive, in less than two years, the whole Kabbalah from the lips of Isaac Luria (see "Ḥayyim Vital," in Shem HaGedolim). Azulai often records where he has seen in person which versions of certain manuscripts were extant.

_________________________________________________________________________________

רבי חיים יוסף דוד בן יצחק זרחיה אזולאי (ה'תפ"ד - י"א באדר ה'תקס"ו; 1724 - 1 במרץ 1806), שנודע גם בשם החיד"א, היה מגדולי הפוסקים, מקובל, שד"ר והיסטוריון.

ביוגרפיה

החיד"א נולד בירושלים לרבי רפאל יצחק זרחיה אזולאי, אשר היה נינו של המקובל רבי אברהם אזולאי. אביו היה דור חמישי לאנוסי ספרד שעלה מהעיר פאס, מרוקו, והתיישב בחברון. אמו הייתה אשכנזיה, בתו של המקובל יוסף בייאלר שעלה לירושלים בעליית רבי יהודה החסיד.

רבי חיים התחנך בירושלים אצל תלמיד חכמים, ביניהם ר' יונה נבון ("נחפה בכסף") שהחיד"א הפך לתלמידו המובהק. עמו הוא עיבד את אגרותיו כשהיה בן 14.[דרושה הבהרה] אחרי כן למד זמן מה אצל רבי חיים אבן עטר מחבר הספר אור החיים, אצל רבי יצחק ראפאפורט, ולבסוף אצל רבי יום טוב אלגאזי בישיבת המקובלים בית אל. שני אלה למדו בישיבת המקובלים אצל רבי שלום שרעבי (הרש"ש) שהיה ראש הישיבה וגדול המקובלים.

אשתו הראשונה הייתה רחל והיא נפטרה בהיות החיד"א בתוניס. הוא הסתיר דבר זה מעיני אנשי המקום משום חששו שידחקו בו ויציעו לו אשה מקהילתם. נישא פעם שניה, והיו לו שני בנים, רבי רפאל ישעיה ורבי אברהם (שהיו שד"רים אף הם).

ב-1755 נבחר, במהלך לימודיו, לפעול כשליח של הקהילה היהודית הקטנה בארץ ישראל, ובתפקידו זה סייר רבות באירופה והותיר רושם בקהילות יהודיות שביקר בהן. על-פי חלק מהרישומים הוא יצא מארץ ישראל שלוש פעמים (בשנים 1755, 1770 ו-1781), ובשאר הזמן חי בחברון. מסעותיו הביאוהו לרחבי אירופה, ובכל מקום אליו הגיע הוא בחן את אוספי הספרות הרבנית שמצא.

משנות ה-80 של המאה ה-18 לאחר בקשתה של הקהילה היהודית המקומית, השתקע החיד"א בעיר לִיווֹרְנוֹ שבאיטליה. הוא הסכים למשרה זו בתנאי שיוכל להקדיש מזמנו לכתיבת חבוריו, ואכן שם פורסמו מרבית עבודותיו, ושם גם נפטר ונקבר.

הנצחתו

בשנת 1960, מינה הראשון לציון הרב יצחק נסים את הרב מרדכי אליהו לנהל את סוגיית העלאת עצמותיו של החיד"א לארץ ישראל. הוא הצליח בכך, והחיד"א נקבר בהר המנוחות

על שמו נקראו רחובות בישראל.

חיבורים

החיד"א כתב כ-80 חיבורים ורבים מהם שרדו ונלמדים עד היום. הוא עסק בתחום נושאים נרחב: הלכה ("ברכי יוסף"), מדרש, קבלה והיסטוריה. עבודתו ההיסטורית העיקרית, "שם הגדולים", נקראה על שם פסוק מספר דברי הימים. חלק מכתביו לא ראו אור. בספר רשימת יוא"ל - ישנה רשימה ביבליוגרפית של כל ספרי החיד"א.

הלכה, פרשנות, דרושים

  • "חדרי בטן" - יו"ל מכתב יד בירושלים תש"נ-1943

זיכרון משה" - שני חלקים על גמרא ופוסקים, יצא לאור על ידי נכדו הרב משה אזולאי ומשום כך נקרא "זיכרון משה" ולא אחד משמותיו של החיד"א*

  • "טוב עין" - שו"ת
  • "דבש לפי"
  • "אהבת דוד" - דרשות
  • "שפה אחת" - פירוש על הגדה של פסח
  • "פתח עינים" - פירוש על אגדות התלמוד, נספח בחלק מהמהדורות הישנות של עין יעקב
  • "אחורי תרעא" - פירוש על מסכת הוריות
  • בית מנוחה" - סדר לימוד ליארצייט

מחזיק ברכה" - הלכה על חלק אורח חיים שבשלחן ערוך ובמיוחד בענייני תפלה על פי מנהגי המקובלים*

  • "כיסא דוד"
  • "כיסא רחמים" - על מסכתות קטנות
  • "מראית העין" - חידושים ובאורים על הש"ס
  • "ככר לאדן"
  • "שיורי ברכה" - תוספות לחיבור מחזיק ברכה
  • זרוע ימין" - פרוש על מסכת אבות

ברכי יוסף" - פירוש לשולחן ערוך מלוקט מרבותנו הראשונים וראשוני האחרונים אשר כתבי היד שלהם לא הובאו לדפוס עד אז אלה החיד"א מצאם במסעותיו בכתבי יד ישנים והביאם לדפוס*

  • מורה באצבע" - הנהגות כלליות, הנהגות לשבתות, חגים וחודשי השנה

"ציפורן שמיר - מוסר, הנהגות ותפילות גודל" - סיכום הלכות מספרי האחרונים (כולל מספרי החיד"א עצמו). בספר מובאת רק פסיקתו הסופית ללא הפלפול ההלכתי עם הבאת המקורות כפי שעשה בספרי השו"ת שלו או בספרו ברכי יוסף*

  • "כף אחת"
  • "יוסף בסדר"
  • "סנסן ליאיר"
  • "שומר ישראל"

שו"תים

  • "טוב עין"
  • חיים שאל" - שו"ת בשני חלקים"
  • יוסף אומץ" - בספר נותן מענה לכל השאלות שנשלחו לחיד"א מרחבי העולם אולם בעיקר מצפון אפריקה וארץ ישראל"
  • סידור החיד"א - ליקוט מכל ספרי החיד"א הלכות ופירושים על התפילה

היסטוריה וביבליוגרפיה

  • "שם הגדולים"
  • זעיר שם" - תוספות ל"שם הגדולים", כולל גם פירוש על מדרש רבה"

פירושים על תנ"ך

  • לחם מן השמים" - פירושים על התורה"
  • אהל יוסף" - פירוש על תהלים"
  • יוסף תהלות" - פירוש על תהילים"
  • "חומת אנ"ך" - (יצא לאור: תקס"ד) פירוש על אוריתא נביאי כתובי תנ"ך