Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Isaac Nissim

NISSIM, ISAAC (1896–1981), chief rabbi of Israel and rishon le-Zion. Nissim was born in Baghdad. His father was a merchant and also a scholar. Nissim early attained a reputation as a scholar and, although he occupied no rabbinic office, his opinion was sought in religious matters. His method of study approximated closely to that of the Lithuanian rabbis and he engaged in halakhic discussion with them and with heads of yeshivot. He had ties with eminent rabbis of Ereẓ Israel as well as with scholars of Germany and Poland. In 1925 he settled in Jerusalem, where he was closely associated with Solomon Eliezer *Alfandari whose lectures he attended. In 1926 he published Ẓedakah u-Mishpat, the responsa of Ẓedakah *Ḥozin, an 18th-century Baghdad scholar, together with an introduction and notes from a manuscript in Iris large library. Nissim wrote responsa on a variety of halakhic topics, some of them being published in his Yein ha-Tov (1947). In 1955 he was elected to the office of rishon le-Zion and chief rabbi of Israel. He displayed his independence in various fields of activity and strove for understanding and the creation of amicable relations between all sectors of the population, visiting for example, left-wing kibbutzim, which were regarded as closed to rabbis. He took a strong stand in the halakhic recognition of the Bene Israel of India and refused to meet Pope Paul VI when the latter visited Israel in January 1964. After the 1967 Six-Day War he transferred the supreme bet din to a building opposite the southern Wall of the Temple near the site of the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which was the ancient seat of the Sanhedrin.


Shin, in: Ha-Ẓofeh, (March 27, 1964), 3; D. Lazar, Rashim be-Yisrael, 2 (1955), 114–8.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.