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YISHAI (JESSE) BEN HEZEKIAH:

Exilarch of Damascus toward the end of the thirteenth century. He was a very prominent defender of the writings of Maimonides against the attacks of the anti-Maimonists. Thus, when he was informed of the agitation of the mystic Solomon Petit against the "Moreh," he warned him, under the penalty of the ban, to cease vilifying Maimonides. Solomon Petit paid no heed to the threats of Yishai, and the latter convoked several rabbis, among them those of Safed, and in the month of Tammuz, 1286, wrote a formal excommunication of the agitator of Acre and his followers (see "Kerem Ḥemed," iii. 169 etseq., where Yishai's letter is published; Halberstam, in Kobak's "Jeschurun," vi. 66, however, declares that the year was 1291). The letter of excommunication was stamped with the seal of the exilarch, representing a crouching lion with a hand raised over its head, and was signed by Yishai and twelve rabbis. It declared that whoever was in possession of any writing hostile to Maimonides should deliver it immediately to David Maimuni or to his son.

Bibliography:
  • Besides the sources mentioned by F. Lazarus, in Brüll's Jahrb. x. 51;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 681;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., vii. 158, 166-167, note 8.
J. M. Sel.
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