Rav akçesi

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Rav akçesi was a "rabbi tax" paid by Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire.[1][2] The origins of Rav akçesi are unclear; it has been suggested that it was one of two taxes imposed specifically on Jews, and that it may have developed in parallel with the authority of a senior rabbi in Istanbul, who was at nominally a representative and judge for Jewish communities in the Ottoman empire, although their authority may not have extended far beyond Istanbul.[3][4]

It has been suggested that Mehmet II imposed the tax in return for separate representation of Jews after 1455, as part of a broader effort to rebuild and revive Istanbul; this may also have served to undermine the Greek patriarchy. Under the Ottoman empire there was, at time, friction between "Greeks" and "Jews"; the authorities may at times have favoured one over the other.[5]

Although rav akçesi was a cash tax, rather than a tax in kind, it could be hypothecated to provide specific goods; tax records for 1655 show that the rav akçesi in Monastir (Bitola) was a significant source of funding of drapery for janissaries; the tax official responsible for purchases would be the same person responsible for collecting the tax.[6]

Non-Muslims were usually taxed at a higher rate, overall, in the Ottoman empire, thanks to taxes such as rav akçesi and ispence. Jews in particular may have been singled out to pay higher rates of ispence.[7] The Porte was well aware of this - and even aware that this would tempt nonmuslims to convert; Bayezit II ruled that courts should treat nonmuslims more leniently (including such measures as lower fines), "so that the poll-tax payers shall not vanish".[8]

As with other taxes in the Ottoman empire, rav akçesi could be affected by a complex patchwork of local rules and exemptions, including muafiyet; the Jews of Selanik (Thessaloniki) were among those exempted from taxes by a muafname after the city was conquered by Murad II.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turcica: revue d'études turques, Volumes 24-25. Éditions Klincksieck. 1992. p. 106. 
  2. ^ Veinstein, Gilles (1992). "Sur la draperie juive de Salonique (XVIe-XVIIe s.)". Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée. 66. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Bernard (1952). "The privileges granted by Mehmed II to his Physician". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 14: 554. 
  4. ^ Rohschürmann, Michael (2009). "Die Tore der Freiheit"- Die Dhimma-Politik am Beispiel des jüdischen Milets im Osmanischen Reich und deren Auswirkungen auf die heutigen türkischen Juden. GRIN Verlag. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-640-28937-0. 
  5. ^ Ankori, Zvi (1977). Greek Orthodox Theological Review. 22 (1): 17–57. "Greek Orthodox-Jewish Relations in Historic Perspective: The Jewish View."
  6. ^ Veinstein, Gilles (1992). "Sur la draperie juive de Salonique (XVIe-XVIIe s.)". Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée (66). 
  7. ^ A historical and economic geography of Ottoman Greece: the southwestern Morea in the 18th century. ASCSA. 2005. ISBN 978-0-87661-534-8. 
  8. ^ Heyd, Uriel (1973). Studies in old Ottoman criminal law. Clarendon Press. pp. 156, 287. 
  9. ^ Zachariadou, Elisavet (1992). The Via Egnatia under Ottoman rule (1380-1699). Crete University Press.