A Sage of the Golden Age of Safed: Rabbi Moses Najara

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Many studies have been devoted to the prominent scholars who lived in Safed, such as R. Joseph Karo and R. Isaac Luria, but these figures were exceptional and do not accurately reflect the reality of the more typical Safed sage. This study deals with R. Moses Najara (R. Israel Najara’s father), one of the sages during Safed’s Golden Age. The author of Leqaḥ Ṭov, he was also a member of the rabbinical court of Safed, to which questions were sent from Jewish communities around the world. The article describes what is known about R. Moses, his literary work, and his role as a rabbi and member of the rabbinical court. Special attention is devoted to his attitude toward Kabbalah, which provides insight that tempers conventional wisdom about the dominance of Kabbalah among Safed sages in the mid-sixteenth century. There is no doubt that if figures like R. Moses had not lived in the shadow of figures who were extraordinary by any measure, they and their works would have received greater attention. This study of R. Moses, who was overshadowed in the eyes of historians by his exceptional peers, aims to provide a more balanced description of the rabbinic stratum of Safed in the period when the city was in its glory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-403
Number of pages25
JournalJewish History
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Biblical interpretation
  • Isaac Luria
  • Israel Najara
  • Jews of Spain
  • Joseph Caro
  • Safed kabbalists
  • Safed sages


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