NAJARA, family of rabbis and kabbalists in Ereẓ Israel and *Syria, originating from the town of Nájera in *Spain. Apparently, the head of the family, LEVI NAJARA, settled in Constantinople after the expulsion from Spain (1492). His son MOSES (1) (1508?–1581), rabbi and kabbalist, lived in *Damascus and in *Safed. Apparently before 1546, he served as a rabbi in Damascus and corresponded with Moses di *Trani. He remained in Damascus until after 1555. He spent some time in Safed as a student of Isaac *Luria and wrote a commentary on the Torah, Lekah Tov (Constantinople, 1571). Sha'ar ha-Kelalim, published in the beginning of Eẓ Ḥayyim of Ḥayyim *Vital, is attributed to Najara in several manuscripts. Different discourses on Lurianic Kabbalah are found in his name in manuscripts and in published works of Ḥayyim Vital. According to Shabbatean tradition, Baruchia (Russo), the head of the *Shabbateans in *Salonika, is reputed to have been a reincarnation of Maharam Nayar, i.e., Moses Najara. In his last years he continued to serve as rabbi in Damascus, where he died. His son was the distinguished poet Israel *Najara. The son of Israel, MOSES (2), succeeded his father as the head of the Jewish community in *Gaza, according to David Conforte (Kore ha-Dorot, 49b), who passed through Gaza in 1645 and studied Torah with Najara. Kabbalistic sermons preserved in manuscript were attributed to him but it is possible that they were written by his grandfather, Moses Najara (1). JACOB, his son, who succeeded Moses (2), is known to have been a fervent believer in Shabbetai *Ẓevi. When Shabbetai Ẓevi reached Gaza in 1665, he stayed with Najara, whom he appointed "High Priest," although Najara was not of a priestly family (Kohen). In 1666 Jacob Najara sent propagandistic letters abroad supporting the messianism of Shabbetai Ẓevi and the prophecy of *Nathan of Gaza. Even after Shabbetai Ẓevi's apostasy, Najara believed in him and visited him in Adrianople in 1671 (Sefunot, 5 (1961), 254–61). MOSES (3), apparently a member of this family, may have been a rabbinic emissary. Between 1760 and 1790 he was one of the rabbis in Debdou, in eastern Morocco. JUDAH NAJARA, a rabbi in Constantinople, may also have been a member of this family.
Neubauer, Chronicles, 1 (1887), 151, 153; Rosanes, Togarmah, 3 (1938), 218–9; 4 (1935), 357; G. Scholem, Kitvei Yad ba-Kabbalah (1930), 127; idem, in: Zion, 6 (1940/41), 129; Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, 1 (1967), index; J.M. Toledano, Sarid u-Falit (1945), 73–74; I. Ben-Zvi, She'ar Yashuv (1966), 378.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.