Yiḥyah Qafiḥ (Hebrew: רבי יחיא בן שלמה קאפח also Yiḥyah ibn Shlomo el Qafiḥ) (1853–1932) served as the Chief Rabbi of Sana'a, Yemen in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He founded the Dor Dai movement in Judaism, which intends to combat the influence of Lurianic Kabbalah and restore the rational approach to Judaism, such as is represented by the thought of Maimonides, Sa'adiah Gaon, et al., and to encourage strict adherence to the Halakha explicitly as formulated in the Mishneh Torah (Maimonides code of Jewish Law).
The work for which Rabbi Qafiḥ is most well known is Milḥamot HaShem (Wars of the Lord, which takes the same name as earlier books). In it he argues that the Zohar is not authentic and that attributing its authorship to the Tannaitic sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is to besmirch him. Perhaps more importantly, Milḥamot HaShem maintains that the theology of Lurianic Kabbalah which he believes advocates the worship of Zeir Anpin (the supposed creative demiurge of God) and the Sephirot, is entirely idolatrous and irreconcilable with the historically pure monotheism of Judaism. This stance met with much opposition, and led the Rabbi to become embroiled in a dispute with Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine, who was known for his emphasis on mysticism). This dispute is still very much alive in the modern Jewish world. Some contemporary Poskim of the Haredi camp, such as Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, have echoed condemnation of Rabbi Qafiḥ's work as heretical. Others, such as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, have expressed strong disagreement with Rabbi Yihyah Qafih's work, while maintaining that such views do not equate to heresy.
Rabbi Yiḥyah Qafiḥ's grandson was Rabbi Yosef Qafiḥ. He was a prominent leader of the Yemenite community in Israel and perpetuated part of his grandfather's life's work by publishing corrected versions of Maimonides’s works based on centuries-old manuscripts preserved by his grandfather's family. Rabbi Yiḥyah Qafiḥ is known to have "spent huge sums in order to recover manuscripts, even fragments of manuscripts of his [Maimonides] works."
- Tohar Hayiḥud - The Oneness of G-d in its Purity p. 40.
- Tshuvos Derech Emunah , p. 30.
- Teshuvot Ma'yan Omer , note to chapter 7 siman צג.
- Rabbi Yosef Kafach - A Life Fulfilled by Matis Greenblatt
- Online text of the Milhamot Hashem
- Emunat Hashem Reply to Milḥamot Hashem by pro-Zohar Jerusalem rabbis. Hebrew
- Tohar Hayihud - The Oneness of G-d in its Purity; A Defense of Qafiḥ Against His Detractors
- Rare photo of Rabbi Yihhye Ibn Shlomoh El Qafiḥ ZS'L
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