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Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar also known as the Ohr ha-Chaim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Mequenez, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Israel July 7, 1743. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco.
In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in the Land of Israel, then under the Ottoman Empire. En route he was detained in Livorno by the rich members of the Jewish community who established a yeshiva for him. Many of his pupils later became prominent and furnished him with funds to print his Ohr ha-Chaim.
He was received with great honor wherever he traveled. This was due to his extensive knowledge, keen intellect and extraordinary piety. In the middle of 1742 he arrived in Jerusalem where he presided at the Beit Midrash Knesset Yisrael.
One of his disciples there was Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai, who wrote of his master’s greatness: “Attar’s heart pulsated with Talmud; he uprooted mountains like a resistless torrent; his holiness was that of an angel of the Lord, … having severed all connection with the affairs of this world.”
He is buried on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.
- Hefetz Hashem (God’s Desire), Amsterdam, 1732—dissertations on the four Talmudic treatises Berakot, Shabbat, Horayot, and Chullin.
- Ohr ha-Chaim (The Light of Life), Venice, 1742—a commentary on the Pentateuch after the four methods known collectively as Pardes; it was reprinted several times. His renown is based chiefly on this work, which became popular also with the Hasidim.
- Peri Toar (Beautiful Fruit), novellae on the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, dealing especially with Hiskiah de Silva‘s commentary Peri Hadash, Amsterdam, 1742; Vienna and Lemberg, 1810.
- Rishon le-Zion, Constantinople, 1750—consisting of novellae to several Talmudic treatises, on certain portions of the Shulchan Aruch, on the terminology of Maimonides, on the five Megillot, on the Prophets and on Proverbs.
- Under the same title were published at Polna, 1804, his notes on Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Isaiah.
- Ohr ha-Chaim book in text files in Hebrew.