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ḤABIB, LEVI BEN JACOB IBN:

Rabbi of Jerusalem; born at Zamora, Spain, about 1480; died at Jerusalem about 1545. Under King Manuel of Portugal, and when about seventeen, he was compelled to submit to baptism, but at the first opportunity fled to Salonica, 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 at Jerusalem, where his learning won him the position of chief rabbi. There he met Jacob Berab, 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, reintroduced the ancient practise 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 Ḥabib'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 practise of ordination ceased again soon after Berab's death.

Ibn Ḥabib had some knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. In his youth he edited his father's "'En Ya'aḳob" (Constantinople, 1516; see Ḥabib, Jacob ibn). He wrote: "She'elot u-Teshubot," a collection of 147 responsa; "Ḳonṭres ha-Semikah," a treatise on ordination; "Perush Ḳiddush ha-Ḥodesh," a commentary on Ḳiddush ha-Ḥodesh (rules governing the construction of the calendar in Maimonides' code). All these works were published together at Venice (1565);' the last-named work was also published separately (ib. 1574-76).

Bibliography:
  • Conforte, Kore ha-Dorot, pp. 32a, 33b, 37a:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., ix. 293-296;
  • De Rossi, Dizionario, i. 84;
  • Hazan, Ha-Ma'alot li-Shelomoh, pp. 53a-54a;
  • Fürst. Bibl. Jud. i. 153;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. Col. 1606.
D. M. Sel.
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