Levi ibn Habib


Levi ibn Habib (c. 1480 – c. 1545), also known by the acronym HaRaLBaCh, was
Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem The position of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem was instituted centuries ago and was originally held by a member of the Sephardic community. Moses Galante (the Younger), Moses Galante served as Rishon LeZion (title), Rishon LeZion, the title used from ...
from 1525 until his death. Under
King Manuel
King Manuel
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, ...

, and when about seventeen, he was compelled to submit to
baptism Baptism (from the noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a of and , almost invariably with the use of water, into . It may be performed by or water on the head, or by either partially or completely. The s recount that . Baptism is c ...

, but at the first opportunity fled to
Salonica Thessaloniki (; el, Θεσσαλονίκη, ), also known as Thessalonica (), Saloniki or Salonica (), is the List of countries by largest and second largest cities, second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its Thessaloni ...
, where he could follow the dictates of his conscience in safety. In 1523 he went to Jerusalem, but in a short time returned to Salonica. In 1525 he settled permanently in Jerusalem, where his learning won him the position of chief rabbi. There he met
Jacob Berab Jacob Berab ( he, יעקב בירב), also spelled Berav or Bei-Rav, (1474 – April 3, 1546), was an influential rabbi A rabbi is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One becomes a rabbi by being ordained by another rabbi, fol ...
, with whom he often came into conflict on questions of rabbinical law. A serious quarrel broke out between these two rabbis when Berab, becoming chief rabbi of
Safed Safed ( Sephardic Hebrew & Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew, also known as Israeli Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), generally referred to by speakers simply ...

, reintroduced the ancient practice of the ordination of rabbis. They carried on a bitter and envenomed controversy for some time, in the course of which Berab referred to Ibn Habib's adoption of Christianity. The latter frankly admitted the fact, but pointed out that at the time he was a mere youth, that his involuntary profession of Christianity lasted hardly a year, and that he took the first opportunity to escape and rejoin the religion of his fathers. This controversy was chiefly responsible for the fact that the practice of ordination ceased again soon after Berab's death.


He was knowledgeable in
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no general consensus abo ...
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
. In his youth he edited his father's book
Ein Yaakov ''Ein Yaakov'' () is a 16th-century compilation of all the Aggadic Aggadah ( he, אַגָּדָה or ; Jewish Babylonian Aramaic אַגָּדְתָא; "tales, fairytale, lore") is the non-legalistic pardes (Jewish exegesis), exegesis which app ...
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (), Tsargrad (), Qustantiniya (), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopolis ("the Great City"), Πό ...

, 1516; by Jacob ibn Habib). He wrote:
She'elot u-Teshubot
', a collection of 147
responsa ''Responsa'' (plural of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
; ''Kontres ha-Semikah'', a treatise on ordination; ''Perush Kiddush HaChodesh'', a commentary on ''Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh'' (rules governing the construction of the Hebrew calendar in Maimonides' code of law). All these works were published together in Venice (1565); the last-named work was also published separately (ib. 1574-76).


* Its bibliography: *David Conforte, ''Kore ha-Dorot'', pp. 32a, 33b, 37a: *Heinrich Grätz, ''Gesch.'' 3d ed., ix.293-296; *Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi, ''Dizionario'', i.84; *Hazan, ''Ha-Ma'alot li-Shelomoh'', pp. 53a-54a; *Julius Fürst, ''Bibl. Jud.'' i.153; *Moritz Steinschneider, ''Cat. Bodl.'' col. 1606. {{DEFAULTSORT:Habib, Levi ibn 16th-century rabbis 15th-century Portuguese Jews Rabbis in Ottoman Syria 1480s births 1540s deaths Year of birth uncertain Year of death uncertain Chief rabbis of Jerusalem Early Acharonim People from Zamora, Spain Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 Exponents of Jewish law Authors of books on Jewish law Sephardi rabbis in Ottoman Palestine