Hezekiah da Silva

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Portrait displayed in the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue, Amsterdam.
Grave on the Mount of Olives

Hezekiah da Silva (also Hezekiah Silva) (1659–1698) (Hebrew: חזקיה בן דוד די סילוא) was a Jewish author born at Livorno, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, son-in-law of the dayan Mordechai Rafael Malachi. About 1679 he left his native city for Jerusalem, Ottoman Palestine, where he attended the yeshivah of Moses Galante, In 1689 Rav Galanti passed away and Rav Hezekia succeeded him as Rosh Yeshiva and ten years later he was sent to Europe to collect funds for Jerusalem. In 1691 he was in Amsterdam where he received an offer to become the city's Rav which he refused. He began the printing of his work Peri Ḥadash (פרי חדש), a commentary on the Yoreh De'ah. Wealthy Amsterdam Jews offer to finance the publication which was published in 1691 en was immediately hailed by European Tora scholars as a monumental contribution to the world of Halacha. He remained in that city for a year. On his way back to Eretz Israel he visited Egypt. Here the Tora scholars were incensed by the fact that Rav Hezekia sometimes,when he referred tot earlier Poskim and disagreed with their opinions, did this in a disparaging manner.The freedom with which Silva discussed halakic problems brought the ban of the rabbis of Cairo upon his Peri Ḥadash, but it was afterward removed by Abraham Levi, although the two men, spiritually akin, were personally unacquainted. Back in Jerusalem Rav Hezekia opened the doors of Yeshivat Bet Yaakov. While in Amsterdam he had secured the ongoing support of the Dutch philanthropist Yisrael Yaakov Firera, in whose honor the yeshiva was renamed Bet Yaakov Firera. He took a decided interest in the controversy of Moses Hagiz against Judah Vega, but his death in Jerusalem in 1695 cut short his activity in behalf of the former. He was buried at the foot of Har Hazeisim. This work of Silva's was supplemented by a second and a third part, both edited by his son David, and bearing the approbation of the chief authorities of the time (Amsterdam, 1706–1730). Silva was likewise the author of the Mayim Ḥayyim, containing a collection of notes on Talmudic treatises, together with responsa and a portion of the Yad of Maimonides. Silva expressly states that he was a teacher at Jerusalem, not a rabbi, but despite this statement Luncz claims that he was chief rabbi of Jerusalem and that he died in 1740.

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainExecutive Committee of the Editorial Board and Lazarus Grünhut (1901–1906). "Silva, Hezekiah". In Singer, Isidore; et al. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.