ELYASHAR, JACOB BEN ḤAYYIM JOSEPH

ELYASHAR, JACOB BEN ḤAYYIM JOSEPH (after 1720–1788), rabbi and communal leader in Ereẓ Israel. Elyashar was born in Hebron. He was a grandson, through his mother, of Jacob Vilna, a member of the group of Judah he-Ḥasid . He acted as an emissary of the Hebron community to various countries, visiting Italy, Germany, and Poland after 1751, Baghdad in 1763, and Sofia and other Turkish towns in 1768, returning in about 1770 to Hebron, where he became one of its notables. He was included there among the pupils of Ḥ.J.D. Azulai and the two became very close friends. He helped Azulai in his literary activities, copying on his behalf various manuscripts. In 1773 Elyashar again visited Baghdad as an emissary of the Hebron community, and in 1774 went to Basra where he stayed until 1781. During that time the Persian army in 1775 captured the town, ruling over it until 1779. Elyashar, who was a composer of piyyutim and poems, commemorated the day the Persians left Basra by composing a poem, "Megillat Paras," in which he described events in Basra during the siege and its capture by the Persians. It was first published by his grandson, jacob saul elyashar , at the beginning of the latter's Ish Emunim (1888). A critical version with a commentary was published by M. Benayahu in his book Rabbi Ya'akov Elyashar (1960). Jacob also composed poems in honor of that day, which the Jews of Basra continued to recite annually amid great celebrations for about 100 years after the event. In 1781, through the influence of the well-known Farḥi family, he reached Safed. There he served as av bet din and one of the leaders of the community. He devoted himself to the rebuilding of safed , whose Jewish settlement began to develop anew in the years 1778–79. He wrote several books which were lost as a result of his wanderings and the persecutions he suffered. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Benayahu, Rabbi Ya'akov Elyashar (Heb. 1960); idem, Rabbi Ḥayyim Yosef David Azulai (Heb. 1959), index, S.V.; Yaari, Sheluḥei, 591f. and index, S.V.; A. Ben-Jacob, Yehudei Bavel (1965), 123, 139, 282, 335f. (A'hron Oppenheimer)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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