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AYYAS, JUDAH:

A commentator and casuist; born in North Africa about 1690; died at Jerusalem Sept. 11, 1760. He pursued his Talmudic studies at Algiers under the supervision of Solomon Ẓeror, rabbi of that city. From 1728 to 1756 Ayyas officiated as dayyan of Algiers, in which capacity he was very popular and much consulted on ritual questions. In 1756 he went by way of Leghorn to Jerusalem, where he spent the closing years of his life. The chief motive for his departure seems to have been the progressive spirit that began to make itself felt in the Algerian community. Ayyas was a strict Talmudist, a keen casuist, but narrow-minded and without any sympathy for questions outside the domain of Halakah. He wrote: (1) "Leḥem Yehudah" (The Bread of Judah), a commentary on Maimonides' "Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah" (Leghorn, 1745). (2) "Bet Yehudah" (Judah's House), responsa on the four "Ṭurim" (Leghorn, 1746). This latter work throws some light on the social and economic conditions of the Jewry of North Africa in Ayyas' days. From the fifth responsum in Eben ha-'Ezer, for instance, it appears that cases of bigamy were not rare among Oriental Jews of the eighteenth century. Appended to it are the communal regulations of Algiers as laid down by R. Joseph ben Sheshet () and R. Simon ben Ẓemaḥ Duran(). (3) "Wezotli-Yehudah" (And This Too Is Judah's), commentaries on various subjects (Leghorn, 1776). (4) "Bene Yehudah" (Judah's Sons), on the terminology and style of Maimonides, Tosafot and Mizraḥi; this work contains also some responsa; appended to it is a treatise, "Ot Berit" (The Sign of the Covenant), on circumcision (Leghorn, 1758). (5) "Maṭṭeh Yehudah" (The Tribe of Judah) and (6) "Shebeṭ Yehudah" (Leghorn, 1783, 1788), containing novellæ on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Orah Ḥayyim, and Yoreh De'ah. (7) "'Afra de Ar'a"(The Dust of the Earth), a commentary on Jacob Algazi's "Ar'a de Rabbanan" (Leghorn, 1783).

Bibliography:
  • Literaturblatt des Orients, ix. 585;
  • Bloch, Inscriptions Tumulaires, pp. 85 et seq.
D. M. B.
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