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Intrigue and RevolutionChief Rabbis in Aleppo, Baghdad, and Damascus, 1774-1914$
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Yaron Harel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113874

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113874.001.0001

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Yitshak Abulafia’s Troubled Path to Rabbinic Office in Damascus

Yitshak Abulafia’s Troubled Path to Rabbinic Office in Damascus

(p.144) Chapter Six Yitshak Abulafia’s Troubled Path to Rabbinic Office in Damascus
Intrigue and Revolution

Yaron Harel

, Yehonatan Chipman
Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia's struggle against the extended family of Rabbi Shalom Moses Hai Gagin of Jerusalem and the gevir Shemaiah Angel of Damascus. Rabbi Ephraim Mercado Alkalai's abandonment of Damascus paved the way for Rabbi Abulafia's ascent to the office of ḥakham bashi. Despite his being a man of exceptional Torah learning and the scion of a distinguished rabbinic family, his appointment to this office, to which he was eminently suited, had been delayed for more than ten years, owing to disputes with his own relatives, his family connections with Rabbi Shalom Gagin, and the wealthy laymen Shemaiah and Eleazar Angel. However, in 1883, he had no rivals for the office in Damascus, while his enemies in the Angel family had temporarily left the city for Istanbul. While divisions in the community persisted, at this point, the position of Abulafia's supporters was stronger than that of his opponents and he was appointed, in addition to his existing position as head of the religious court, to the office of ḥakham bashi of Damascus.

Keywords:   Yitshak Abulafia, Shalom Moses Hai Gagin, Shemaiah Angel, Damascus, ḥakham bashi, rabbinic family

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