Chaim ibn Attar

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Chaim ibn Attar
Chaim ibn Attar grave.JPG
Grave of ibn Attar on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Died7 July 1743(1743-07-07) (aged 46–47)
BuriedMount of Olives Jewish Cemetery

Ḥayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar also known as the Or ha-Ḥayyim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Salé, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Ottoman Empire on 7 July 1743. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco.

In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in Ottoman Syria. En route, he was detained in Livorno by the rich members of the Jewish community who established a yeshiva for him. Many of his pupils later became prominent and furnished him with funds to print his Or ha-Ḥayyim. (light of life)

Or ha-Ḥayyim was received with great honor wherever he traveled because of his extensive knowledge, keen intellect, and extraordinary piety. In the middle of 1742 he arrived in Jerusalem, where he presided at the Beth Midrash Knesset Yisrael.

One of his disciples there was Chaim Yosef David Azulai, who wrote of his master's greatness: "Attar's heart pulsated with Talmud; he uprooted mountains like a resistless torrent; his holiness was that of an angel of the Lord,... having severed all connection with the affairs of this world."[citation needed]

He is buried in the Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel.


  1. Ḥefetz Hashem (God's Desire), Amsterdam, 1732—dissertations on the four Talmudic treatises Berakhot, Shabbat, Horayot, and Ḥullin.
  2. Or ha-Ḥayyim (The Light of Life), Venice, 1742—a commentary on the Pentateuch after the four methods known collectively as Pardes; it was reprinted several times. His renown is based chiefly on this work, which became popular also with the Hasidim.
  3. Peri Toar (Beautiful Fruit), novellae on the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, dealing especially with Hiskiah de Silva's commentary Peri Ḥadash, Amsterdam, 1742; Vienna and Lemberg, 1810.
  4. Rishon le-Zion, Constantinople, 1750—consisting of novellae to several Talmudic treatises, on certain portions of the Shulḥan Arukh, on the terminology of Maimonides, on the five Megillot, on the Prophets and on Proverbs.
  5. Under the same title were published at Polna, 1804, his notes on Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Isaiah.

See also[edit]


  • Michael, Or ha-hayyim, No. 894;
  • Benjacob, Otzar ha-Sefarim, p. 541;
  • Luncz, in Jerusalem, i.122 (epitaphs);
  • Nacht, Me'or Chayyim, Hebrew biography of 'Attar, Drohobycz, 1898;
  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim;
  • Franco, Histoire des Israélites d'Orient
  • Assaf, David (2009). "'A Heretic who has No Faith in the Great Ones of the Age': The Clash Over the Honor of or Ha-Hayyim". Modern Judaism. 29 (2): 194–225. doi:10.1093/mj/kjp003.


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