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Curiel, Israel ben Me'ir di

(206 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Israel ben Me’ir di Curiel was an important but little-known talmudist and preacher. Born sometime before 1500, he  studied in the academy of Joseph Fasi in Edirne (Adrianople). Early on Curiel had his own academy, students, and followers. He moved to Safed after 1538, and there was one of four scholars ordained by Jacob Berav, the other three being Joseph Caro, Moses de Ṭrani (also known as Mabiṭ), and Abraham Shalom. The biographies and writings of Caro and de Ṭrani are well known; those of Curiel and Shalom less so. Curiel was devoted to the study of Jewish la…

Agasi, Shimon

(522 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Shimon Agasi (1852–1914) was a Baghdadi rabbinic figure whose family probably came from Persia/Iran. He was closely associated with Joseph Ḥayyim al-Ḥakam (the Ben Ish Ḥayy) and the kabbalist Judah Ftayya, and wrote a commentary on Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital’s Shaʿar ha-Gilgulim that was published in Baghdad in 1908 under the name B'ni Aharon (Heb. My Son Aaron), in memory of his son, who had died in his youth. The book was distributed free of charge. Agasi was a wealthy man and did not earn his livelihood from the rabbinate. He inherited his wealth from his parents, including…

Ibn Bulat, Judah

(308 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Judah ibn Bulaṭ  (ca. 1475–ca. 1540), also known as Judah ben Joseph Bulaṭ, was a Talmud scholar who settled in Istanbul after the expulsion from Spain. In 1510, he published the second, corrected edition of the Halikhot ʿOlam (Ways of the World) by Joshua ben Joseph ha-Levi, one of Joseph Caro's mentors, together with the appended text of the Mevoʾ ha-Talmud (Introduction to the Talmud) attributed to Samuel ha-Nagid Ibn Naghrella. Ibn Bulaṭ served as a dayyan in the Rabbinical court in Constantinople. He opposed the practice of basing judgments solely on the halakhic …

Dangoor, Ezra Sasson ben Reuven

(321 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Ezra Sasson ben Reuven Dangoor (1848–1930), born and educated in Baghdad, was a student of Rabbi ʿAbd Allāh Somekh. Although he devoted much of his time to religious activities, Dangoor had to work to support himself, studying in the mornings and earning his living in the afternoons. He worked as a ritual slaughterer and ritual circumciser, and from 1880 to 1886 was the scribe in charge of writing documents issued by the Bet Din of Baghdad. In 1894, Dangoor was appointed chief rabbi of Rangoon, Burma, but a year later ill health compelled him to return to Baghdad, where he w…

Najara, Israel ben Moses

(912 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Israel ben Moses Najara, born in Safed in 1550, was a rabbi and scholar who was educated by his father, Moses Najara, and his grandfather, Rabbi Israel ben Me’ir di Curiel.  The family was of Iberian origin, probably from the Spanish town of Nájera.  In the Arabic-speaking Levant, the name was sometimes pronounced Najjāra, and in one poem, he actually says of himself in Aramaic Yisraʾel ʿavdakh hen ana naggara u-var naggara (Israel your servant I am indeed a carpenter the son of a carpenter) and in Hebrew naggar u-var naggar (see Mirsky, Sefunot 6, pp. 261-262).   In 1575, when Israe…