Ḥayyim ben Israel Benveniste, Rav Kollel Izmir

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Ḥayyim ben Israel Benveniste, Rav Kollel Izmir

Immediate Family:

Son of Israel ben Moshe Benveniste and unknown bat Joshua Soncino
Husband of unknown bat David haKohen
Father of Israel ben Ḥayyim Benveniste, Rav Kollel Izmir
Brother of Eliezer ben Israel Benveniste; Joshua Raphael ben Israel Benveniste; unknown #1 bat Israel Benveniste; unknown #2 bat Israel Benveniste and unknown bat Israel ben Moses Benveniste

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About Ḥayyim ben Israel Benveniste, Rav Kollel Izmir

Ḥayyim (1603–1673), like his brother Joshua Raphael, was a pupil of Mahariṭ. In 1643, he was appointed rabbi of Tire. He moved to Izmir in 1658, and from 1661 was charged with supervising issur ve-heter (Heb. what is forbidden and permitted, i.e., the dietary laws). He was also named the head rabbi (rav kolel) of Izmir, but it is unclear exactly what the position entailed. Throughout the 1660s, Ḥayyim Benveniste was involved in a bitter dispute with other rabbis in the city. He was on especially bad terms with Aaron ben Isaac Lapapa (ca. 1604–1667), who according to some accounts was brought to Izmir from Manisa in 1665 to share the rabbinate with Benveniste. The two also quarreled about the false messiah Shabbetay Ṣevi (1626–1676). When Ṣevi returned to Izmir, his hometown, in late 1665, Ḥayyim and a majority of the community supported him, whereas Lapapa, who did not, was forced to go into hiding. From the mid-1660s until his death, Ḥayyim Benveniste was the sole chief rabbi of Izmir. He married the daughter of a communal notable, David ha-Kohen, and was the father of Israel ben Ḥayyim (d. 1719), who succeeded his father as rav kolel of Izmir.

Ḥayyim was the most famous rabbinic member of the Benveniste family. His books are still used by many Sephardi and Ashkenazi scholars. The most noteworthy are his compilation of responsa, Baʽe Ḥayye (The Necessities of Life; 5 vols., Salonica, 1787–1791), and Keneset ha-Gedola (The Great Assembly; 6 vols., Livorno, 1658), which together with its addendum, Sheyarey Keneset ha-Gedola (Leftovers from The Great Assembly; 2 vols., Izmir, 1671, etc.), treats the development of Jewish law in the century since the publication of Joseph Caro’s Shulḥan ʽArukh.

Yaron Ben Naeh


Barnai, Jacob. “Rabbi Ḥayyim Benveniste ve-Rabbanut Izmir bi-Tequfato,” in Yeme ha-Sahar: Peraqim be-Toldot ha-Yehudim ba-Imperiya ha-ʽOthmanit, ed. Minna Rozen (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1996), pp. 151–191.

Benayahu, Meir. Ha-Yaḥasim she-Beyn Yehude Yavan li-Yehude Iṭalya: Mi-Gerush Sefarad ‘ad Tom ha-Republiqa ha-Veneṣiyanit, (Tel-Aviv: Ha-Makhon le-Ḥeqer ha-Tefuṣot, 1980).

———. “Rofe’ he-Ḥaṣer Rabbi Moshe Benvenest ve-Shir ‘al haglayato le-Rodus me-Rabbi Yehuda Zarqo,” Sefunot 12, no. 2 (1971–78): 123–143.

Benveniste, Joshua. She’elot u-Teshuvot Sha‘ar Yehoshu‘a: ‘Al Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ (Jerusalem: Makhon Or ha-Mizraḥ, 1982), vol. 1, pp. 9–19.

Cite this page

Yaron Ben Naeh. "Benveniste Family." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013.<http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/benveniste-family-SIM_0004080>

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