Sefer Kneses HaGadolah by Rabbi Chaim Benveniste, Fuerth, 1692. (With an approbation by the father-in-law of the first British Chief Rabbi).

Benveneste01With the terrible tragedy of the earthquakes in Turkey, my thoughts turned to a Turkish Rabbi, the author of this book, printed in Furth in 1692..

There is also a tangential British connection… read on to the Haskamah (approbation).

Rabbi Chaim Benvenisti was born in Constantinople in 1603, and in his youth studied under Rabbi Yosef of Trani. He was a Rabbi in Tirah, near Izmir, and then in Izmir itself.  His books were received to tremendous acclaim, and the Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef ben David Azulai) recommended that his commentaries should be consulted prior to rendering any halachic (Jewish legal) decision.

This book is a scholarly work, characterized by extensive analysis of Jewish legal sources from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century.  It is a commentary on the Choshen Mishpat, which is one of the four sections of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher’s compilation of Jewish Law, Arbaah Turim.  Rabbi Joseph Karo used the plan of the Arbaah Turim for his own compilation of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch.

This section, Choshen Mishpat, covers aspects of Jewish law concerning finance, legal procedure, loans and interest.

My copy has a modern binding which is too tightly bound, so that a few letters are cut off in the images.

Hebrew printing was begun in Fuerth in 1691 by S.S. Schneur and his sons Joseph and Abraham and son-in-law Isaac Bing.This book, printed in 1692, was one of their earliest productions.

The Haskamah (approbation) below, printed at the beginning of the book is from Rabbi Shmuel ben Uri Shraga Phoebus, who was Rabbi in Fuerth from 1691 to 1694.  His daughter married Rabbi Aaron Hart, who was appointed Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in London in 1704 or 1705, and is recognized as the first Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s