R. Chayyim b. Atar (Or HaChayyim)

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Or HaChayyim
R. Chayyim b. Moshe ibn Atar
ר' חיים בן משה אבן עטר
LocationMorocco / Eretz Yisrael
WorksOr HaChayyim on Torah
Exegetical Characteristics
Influenced by
Impacted on



  • Name – 
    • Hebrew name – ר' חיים בן משה אבן עטר2
    • _ name – 
  • Dates – 1696–1743
  • Location – Born in Salé, Morocco, moved to Meknes, Algiers, Leghorn, Akko, and Jerusalem. Traveled extensively throughout Italy.3
  • Occupation – 
    • After studying Torah in his youth, R. Chayyim entered a business partnership with family members, while also studying and teaching Torah.
    • Upon moving to Leghorn on his way to Eretz Yisrael, he attracted many students and preached to large audiences.4 
    • In Eretz Yisrael, he established yeshivot at Akko and Jerusalem. He gained renown as both a powerful intellect and an exceedingly pious and holy individual.5
  • Family – R. Chayyim had two wives, one of whom was the daughter of R. Moshe ben Shem-Tov ibn Atar, his great uncle's son, who was a wealthy businessman.
  • Teachers – R. Chayyim studied with his grandfather, R. Chayyim ibn Atar the Elder, who was a prominent yeshivah head in Salé.
  • Contemporaries – R. Shemuel ben Elbaz,6 R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov.7
  • Students – R. David Chasan,8 R. Shem Tov Gabbai, R. Chayyim Yosef David Azulay (Chida),9 R. Moshe Franco, R. Avraham Yishmael Sangvinett10
  • Time period –
    • R. Chayyim mentions throughout his works the difficulties the Jews faced in Morocco in his day, including exorbitant taxes and other persecutions inflicted by the authorities on the Jews.11
    • Much of R. Chayyim's scholarly work was accomplished during these trying times, and despite personal troubles that included great amounts of wearying travel and loss of all personal wealth.12 13
    • During the first half of the eighteenth century, the Jewish community was still feeling the effects of the Sabbatean movement, especially in R. Chayyim's hometown of Salé. Among scholars of the day, this contributed to the questioning of the place of Kabbalah studies, and a corresponding rise in interest in peshat.14


  • Biblical commentaries – Ohr HaChayyim – a commentary on the entire Torah,15 Rishon LeTzion16
  • Rabbinics – 
    • Talmudic novellae – Chefetz Hashem17
    • Halakhic codes18 – Peri To'ar19
    • Responses to the works of others – 
    • Responsa – One responsum has been published, in Benei Yehudah (Leghorn, 1758), responsum 47, and several are extant only in manuscript.
  • Jewish thought – 
  • Commonly misattributed to – 

Torah Commentary


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Textual Issues

  • Manuscripts – 
  • Printings – Ohr HaChayyim was first printed in Venice in 1742, together with the Torah, Targum, and Rashi. Some later editions included only Ohr HaChayyim. The Piotrkow 1889 edition suffered from extensive censorship, with certain phrases, or entire passages removed.20
  • Textual layers – Ohr HaChayyim contains several layers of commentaries collected over years of teaching Parashat Hashavua, and only later gathered together for printing.21


Significant Influences

  • Earlier Sources – 
  • Teachers – 
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Occasional Usage

Possible Relationship


Later exegetes