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Sholal (Sulal), Isaac

SHOLAL (Sulal), ISAAC (d. 1524), last Egyptian *nagid. Although of Spanish ancestry, by the early 15th century and perhaps even earlier Sholal's direct forebears were residing in Tlemcen, *Algeria. During the latter half of the 15th century Sholal himself resided in *Egypt, where he actively engaged in the grain trade and other pursuits. In 1502 he inherited the office of nagid from his uncle/brother-in-law Jonathan (Nathan) *Sholal, serving in this capacity until the Ottoman conquest in 1517, which saw the termination of the negidate. Various sources indicate that Isaac Sholal was intensely involved in the affairs of the *Jerusalem and *Safed communities as well as the Syrian communities on several levels. During his tenure as nagid he made a significant contribution to intellectual life in Jerusalem in the form of massive material support for two yeshivot. One reopened at his initiative, and he founded the other. Sholal also supported the Sephardi yeshivah in Safed. In addition, by promulgating regulations through the agency of his court, Sholal took steps aimed at legislating social issues in the Jerusalem community. In early 1517 Sholal came to Eretz Israel and settled in Jerusalem, but he was then an impoverished man, no longer able to contribute financially to the upkeep of the yeshivot. Nonetheless, in Jerusalem Sholal continued to exercise spiritual influence. He belonged to a circle of individuals who engaged in pietistic practices aimed at hastening redemption. He himself prescribed vigils "to pray and undergo privation for the sake of all our brethren in the Diaspora." Ever attuned to the incipient signs of the Messiah's approach, Sholal evinced particular interest in individuals who claimed descent from the Ten Tribes. Sources from the early 1520s indicate that he hosted individuals claiming such ancestry in Jerusalem and earlier in Egypt as well. Sholal's scholastic achievements and status among the Jerusalem halakhists are reflected in several of the halakhic decisions extant in Kuntres Ḥiddushei Dinim and in his correspondence with his contemporaries in Egypt and Jerusalem.


A. David, "Le-Toledot Benei Mishpaḥat Sholalbe-Miẓrayim ve-Eretz Israel be-Sof ha-Tekufah ha-Mamlukit ve-Reshit ha-Tekufah ha-Ottomanit, Le-Or Mismakhim Ḥadashim min ha-Genizah," in: A. Mirsky, A. Grossman, and Y. Kaplan (eds.), Galut aḥar Golah; Meḥkarim be-Toledot Am Yisrael Mugashim le-Professor H. Beinart (1988), 374–414; idem, "Me'oravutam shel Aḥeronei ha-Negidim be-Mitzrayim be-Inyanah shel ha-Kehilah ha-Yehudit be-Eretz Israel," in: Te'udah, 15 (1999), 293–332; idem, Sha'alu Shelom Yerushalayim (2003), 171–79, 188–97.

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