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ḤALFON, ELIJAH MENAHEM:

Italian Talmudist and physician; son of the astronomer Abba Mari and son-in-law of Kalonymus ben David (Maestro Calo); flourished at Venice in the middle of the sixteenth century. In a collection of responsa compiled by Joseph Graziano of Modena, Ḥalfon gives his opinion on the question whether a Jew may instruct Christians in Hebrew. Citing numerous passages from the Talmud, which he elucidates with logical acumen, Ḥalfon shows that elementary instruction may certainly be given, if only for the purpose of enabling non-Jews to comply with the seven laws given to Noah. Ḥalfon was one of the rabbinical authorities from whom Francesco Georgio obtained for Richard Croke a rabbinical opinion regarding the divorce of Henry VIII. This circumstance, and his friendship for Solomon Molcho, brought about a quarrel between Ḥalfon and the physician Jacob Mantino.

Ḥalfon's authority as a Talmudist was widely recognized, and a responsum of his, in which he calls himself the grandson of Joseph Colon, is found in Moses Isserles' collection of responsa (No. 56, ed. Cracow). Ḥalfon was also a versatile poet, and several of his productions are still extant in manuscript (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 948, 6).

Bibliography:
  • Carmoly, in Revue Orientale, ii. 133;
  • Kaufmann, in J. Q. R. ix. 501;
  • idem, in R. E. J. xxvii. 51.
K. I. Br.
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