Moses ben Isaac Alashkar

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Moses ben Isaac Alashkar

Birthplace: Spain
Death: circa 1542 (67-85)
Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel
Immediate Family:

Son of Isaac Alashkar
Father of Abraham ben Moses Alashkar

Occupation: Rabbi
Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Moses ben Isaac Alashkar



ALASHKAR, MOSES BEN ISAAC (1466–1542), talmudist and liturgical poet. Alashkar, who was born in Spain, studied in his youth with R. Samuel Valensi in Zamora. In 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain, Alashkar sailed to North Africa. On board he was kept below deck with other Jewish refugees, and nearly drowned when the ship foundered. He wrote a poem, "Be-Mah Akaddem," inspired by this experience. Alashkar settled in Tunisia, but when the Spaniards landed in North Africa in 1510 and part of the Jewish population made prisoner, Alashkar fled. He resettled in Patras, Greece, where he established a yeshivah. Alashkar later immigrated to Egypt, and in 1522 became dayyan in Cairo, where he distinguished himself as a talmudist. His halakhic decisions were widely cited; he also corresponded with most of the outstanding rabbis, e.g., Elijah *Capsali, *Levi b. Ḥabib, and Jacob *Berab. Alashkar was involved in halakhic disputes with Samuel b. *Sid and Jacob Berab. In a poem and in a letter to Levi b. Ḥabib, Alashkar complained about the hostility toward him in Cairo. The dissensions eventually led to his departure to Jerusalem, where he died.

Alashkar was well versed in Arabic, and studied the responsa written by earlier scholars, especially Maimonides. He also studied Abraham b. Moses b. Maimon's al-Kifāya and Samuel b. Hophni ha-Kohen Gaon's al-Aḥkām. That Alashkar knew Kabbalah is apparent from his kabbalistic explanations cited by Samuel Uceda in his Midrash Shemu'el, and in several of Alashkar's liturgical poems. Alashkar, however, was opposed to the diffusion of secret lore and mysticism.

Though generally conciliatory and moderate in polemics, occasionally Alashkar severely criticized halakhic statements that seemed untenable to him. Once he even accused his close friend, Levi b. Ḥabib, of making a statement contrary to common sense (Responsa, no. 41). Similarly, he rejected opinions by Joseph *Colon, *Jacob b. Asher, and Joseph *Albo. The editors of Alashkar's responsa mitigated or deleted several statements directed against Berab. Alashkar's responsa, 121 in number, were first published in Venice in 1554. Appended to the responsa are five liturgical poems by Alashkar, printed also with two others in Y. Zarki's anthology Yefeh Nof (Sabionetta, 1575).


Graetz, Hist, 4 (1949), 391; 5 (1949), 392; Landshuth, Ammudei, 21 ff.; S.A. Horodezky, Le-Korot ha-Rabbanut (1914), 57–70; Frumkin-Rivlin, 1 (1928), 57–59; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 443; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (1930), 196f.

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A Spanish-Jewish family whose name was probably derived from an Arabic word meaning "red."...

Moses b. Isaac Alashkar, member of another branch of the family, lived in Egypt, but subsequently resided in Jerusalem, during the latter part of the fifteenth century and at the beginning of the sixteenth. He was prominent among contemporaneous rabbis; and his opinions were held in esteem throughout the Levant, and even in Italy. In a letter to Elijah ha-Levi—the teacher of Elijah Mizraḥi—he complained that his large correspondence deprived him of much of the time due to his professional duties. The two following are the most important of his works: (1) "Hassagot" (Critical Notes), in which he demolishes the whole dog-matical structure built up in Shem-Ṭob ben ShemṬob's "Sefer ha-Emunot"; (2) "Responsa," 121 in number. Both were printed together at Sabbionetta, 1553. A separate edition of the "Hassagot" appeared three years later at Ferrara. This collection, which reached even distant Jewish communities, is of importance for the geographical names in rabbinical writings and in bills of divorce.


   Jew. Quart. Rev. vi. 400, x. 133, xii. 119;
   Oẓar Nehmad, iii. 105;
   Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 1765;
   Fürst, Bibl. Jud. i. 30;
   Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 45.
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From Maharam of Padua profile:

"Meïr was also nominal rabbi of Venice, where he went several times a year, but he had his fixed residence at Padua. Meïr was considered by his contemporaries a great authority on Talmudic and rabbinical matters, and many rabbis consulted him, among them being Moses Alashkar, Obadiah Sforno, and his relative Moses Isserles (who addressed him as "rabbi of Venice")."

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Moses ben Isaac Alashkar's Timeline

Age 76
Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel