Remembering Rabbi Moshe Chafetz (Gentili)

Rabbi Moshe ben Gershom
Rabbi Moshe Chafetz (Gentili)

Deceased’s Name: Rabbi Moshe Chafetz (Gentili)

Deceased’s Hebrew Name: Rabbi Moshe ben Gershom

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Deceased Date of Birth: November 10, 1711

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Deceased Time of Death: after sunset

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Moshe Chafetz (משה חפץ)

Moshe ben Gershom (1663-1711) (known as Moshe Chafetz or Moses Gentili), was a rabbinic scholar in Venice, Italy. Born in Trieste, raised in Venice, he lived as a private tutor teaching Talmud and Midrash. He wrote poetry, and dealt with philosophy, math, and natural sciences.

(Other spelling permutations: Moses ben Gershom, Chefetz, Hefez, Hefes, and many, many others.)

A member of the prominent Chafetz family (Gentili, in Italian) of Northern Italy, he was considered a child prodigy and studied under the renowned R. Solomon Nizza.

One of his poetic works, written at age 13, is in the Venice edition of the Bible (1675-78). The poet Yomtov Valcasson wrote a poem for Chafetz's wedding to Yvonah Karbonnah (Venice, 1682). Chafetz wrote a poem for Yehuda Volterra's wedding (1683).

  • Hanukkat haBayit (lit. Dedication of the Temple), details the construction of the Second Temple (Venice, 1696).
  • Melekhet Machashevet (Intentful Work), a homiletical-philosophical commentary on the Torah (Venice, 1710, with tables and a portrait of the author; second edition, Koenigsbuerg, 1859, with supercommentary, Machashevet Choshev, by Judah Leib Jaffe).

His portrait, in Melekhet Machashevet, was the first portrait ever published in a Hebrew book (first edition, 1710)