Hacham Yosef David

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yosef David, son of Hacham David Shabtai, was born in Salonica, in approximately 1660. He learned Torah first from his father, and went on to study with Hacham Yitzhak Alaniado and Hacham Binyamin Asa'el.

In 1702, Hacham Yosef David was appointed as a dayan and, in 1728, as President of Salonica's rabbinic court and community. He issued responsa to hundreds of halakhic questions that reached him from the entire region – Salonica, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and more. He headed the senior yeshiva, where one of his greatest students was Hacham Yosef Molcho, author of the Shulchan Gavohah.

Hacham Yosef David passed away on 2 Kislev 5496.

Hacham Yosef David authored many works: Beit David – Responsa on the Arba' Torim, Yemei David – sermons, Tzemach David – on the Torah, Yikra Dishkevi – eulogies and sermons, Lehem HaPanim – on the Passover Haggadah, and Batei Avot – on Tracate Avot.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he instructs on the prohibition of maligning a non-Jew, which leads to defaming one's mother's son

"Do not disparage any person" means not even a non-Jew, as wrote the Tosphot, 'a' person means a Jew in particular and 'the' person a non-Jew as well. That is what "any person" (all persons) means, whether 'the' - a Jew, or 'a' – a non-Jew. The reason is brought by Tankhuma: "You are busy maligning your brother, defaming the son of your mother" - 'maligning your brother' Esau (Christians), leads to 'defaming the son of your mother' and one of your own nation. For if you accustom your tongue to speak disparagingly to the non-Jew you will speak thus of a wicked Jew, imagining that it is all the same, and then go on to the mediocre, and then on to the righteous – this leads to your mother's son. That is, this will lead to defaming your own mother's son. This is what is meant by 'you have no man who does not have his hour' – there will remain no one in this world without a time during which you will speak of them slanderously.

Batei Avot, p. 73, Gevaot Olam Institute, 2006