Rabbi Yosef Kapach


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About The Rabbi

Rabbi Yosef Kapach zt”l (27 November 1917 – 21 July 2000), was a Yemenite-Israeli authority on Jewish religious law (halakha), a dayan of the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Israel, and one of the foremost leaders of the Yemenite Jewish community in Israel, where he was sought after by non-Yemenites as well.

He is widely known for his editions and translations of the works of Maimonides, Saadia Gaon, and other early rabbinic authorities (Rishonim), particularly his restoration of the Mishneh Torah from old Yemenite manuscripts and his accompanying commentary culled from close to 300 additional commentators and with original insights.

He was the grandson of Rabbi Yiḥyah Qafiḥ zt”l, a prominent Yemenite leader and founder of the Dor Deah movement in Yemen. Qafih was the recipient of many awards, as well as an Honorary Doctorate from Bar-Ilan University.

Rabbi Yosef Kapach zt”l was born 27 November 1917 in Sana’a in Yemen. His father was Rabbi David Qafiḥ, who died after being assaulted by an Arab man, when his son Yosef was less than one year old. At the age of five, Yosef also lost his mother and was raised by his grandfather Rabbi Yiḥyah Qafiḥ, under whom he studied Torah. In 1927, Yosef helped his grandfather retrieve the oldest complete Mishnah commentary from the Jewish community’s genizah in Sana’a, containing Rabbi Nathan ben Abraham’s elucidation of difficult words and passages in the Mishnah.

At the age of thirteen, Yosef wrote out a complete copy of Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed in Judeo-Arabic.


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