Hacham Yoseph Ben Joya

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yoseph Ben Joya was born in Safed. His father died while he was a child and he was raised and educated by his mother, Joya, which is why he carries her name (which means "precious stone").

In 1742, he left for Europe as a rabbinic emissary for the Safed kollelot, with his colleague Hacham Yom Tov Sabban. They traveled through the cities of Turkey, where they met with the sages of that generation and discussed Halakha. Hacham Yoseph Ben Joya is mentioned in the Devar Moshe responsa by Hacham Haim Moshe Amarillo, and in the Bnei Yona booklet written by Hacham Yona ben Rey, who was Mara DeAtra – [local halakhic adjudicator] in Kushta (Istanbul). They left Turkey for the cities of Italy in 1744. While in Ancona, they gained the esteem of Hacham Moshe Morforgo, the son of Hacham Shimshon Morforgo – author of Shemesh Tzeddakah, who helped make their mission for the Safed kollelot a success. On their return from their mission in 1746, they passed through Livorno, reaching Safed in the late spring (in the month of Iyar).

In 1759 he moved to Safed, because of an earthquake that shook the Galilee and destroyed Safed. He soon became recognized as one of Jerusalem's outstanding sages. He was one of the Jerusalem sages who signed the approbation for Sha'ar HaMayim in 1768, written by Rishon LeZion Hacham Moshe Mordecai Yoseph Bechar Meyuhas.

Hacham Yoseph Ben Joya authored Tal Orot, which contains a long essay on the book HaMordecai, and deals in Halakha concerning Sabbath benedictions, eiruvin and the 39 types of labor proscribed on the Sabbath, as well as halakhic responsa and some Torah commentary and research. His work was published in Salonica in 1795, some years after his decease, by Hacham Haim Shalom Margonato, author of Darkei Shalom.

Hacham Yoseph Ben Joya passed away in Jerusalem on 3 Menahem-Av, 5228 (1768).

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he praises the custom of eating candied fruit and cakes on the Sabbath and on Festivals, despite that they may have various designs on them
The Jewish custom of eating candied fruit and cakes on the Sabbath and Festivals is a lovely one, and despite that they may have various designs on them, they [our predecessors] had no reservations concerning the prohibition of moheq [erasing]. We note that despite that they may have all kinds of decorations, they have no letters at all; since these shapes cannot be considered writing but resemble forms made by striking with a hammer, moheq does not apply, and they had no misgivings concerning the prohibition of erasure…
The rule that applies, despite that the letters or words may be made of the dough itself, and an adult may not break the cake on the Sabbath because of [the proscription of] moheq, being that it is nevertheless a Jewish custom to eat candied fruit and cakes on the Sabbath and on Festivals, it that it is [as valid as] Torah and is permitted a priori, and despite that they may have all kinds of shapes, one needn't worry at all about [transgressing] moheq.
Tal Orot, Section 1, p. 343, Or VaDerech Press, 1987, Jerusalem