Monday, August 9, 2010

Rabbis of Renown: Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal

Rabbi Carigal was born around 1729 and died in Barbados in 1777. He was one of the many emissaries that visited the American colonies from Europe and the Four Holy Cities in Israel (Safed, Hebron, Tiberias, and Jerusalem). These emissaries not only played an important role raising funds for yeshivot, but also brought learning to the edges of the Jewish diaspora.

Although Carigal lived for several years in London and Barbados, he is most famous among American Jews for having visited Newport (RI) in 1773, where he delivered a Shavuot sermon that became the first published Rabbinical address delivered in what would become the United States. He also became life-long friends with Ezra Stiles (affectionately known by me as the "Harriet the Spy of the Colonial World"), who took copious notes on their visits together and transcribed their letters back and forth. Today Carigal's sermon, along with Stiles' records comprise the two main textual resources we have on the Rabbi, his thoughts, and his life. We also have his will, written in Barbados shortly before his death at the young age of 48 (see below). These written sources are complemented by two objects that round out our sense of the Rabbi: a portrait commissioned by Stiles from artist Samuel King (above), and Carigal's elaborately carved gravestone that rests today in the Nidhe Israel cemetery in Bridgetown, Barbados (below).

Like many Jewish gravestones in the West Indies, the inscription for Carigal's stone is in three languages: Hebrew, Portuguese, and English. The Portuguese and English portions read:

Do muy Docto Erudito & Isigne
H.H.R. Refael Haim Ishac Carigal
Illustre Cabeca do K K de Nidhe
Israel en Berbados que O'Soberano:
Jues chamo desta Transitoria Vida
em 2da Fra 12 de Iyar 5537 que cor
responde a 19 de Mayo 1777 de
48 Annos de Idade

Here lyeth the remains of the Learned
& Revd Rabbi Ralph Haim Isaac Carigal
Worthy Pastor of the Synagogue NY
who departed this life on the 19 of May
1777 Aged 48 Years.

Although carved in a beautiful marble with care, the stone lacks many of the signature symbols found in the Nidhe Israel cemetery: there are no angels, the tree of life, no scenes of resurrection like those found on stones nearby. The restraint shown on the stone speaks to the Rabbi's origins in the Ottoman Empire: although Turkish stones are often gorgeous and elaborate (as Minna Rozen has shown), they do not tend to have images of humans and divine beings (angels, hand of God) found on the stones of the Jewish Atlantic World. Rabbi Carigal's "Turkishness" fascinated Stiles when the Rabbi visited Newport. Stiles was particularly intrigued by Carigal's hat and robes, which gave the Rabbi an "Oriental" air.

As I argue in my essay on the Shavuot sermon, Carigal was an important resource for early American Jews. His sermon was stepped in Sephardic tradition and relied upon the greater learning he had had while in Hebron. Marc Saperstein argues that Sephardic sermons underwent a shift from an older derush form to a newer “catenary” style during the eighteenth century. Carigal's sermon bridges these two forms (Saperstein 78; Leibman 80). Carigal's will also reveals his undying ties to the Holy Land and the family he left behind: he asks that most of his estate be sold and divided between his wife and son, but that "my books and wearing apparel be send to ... be remitted ... to my loving wife Hori Carrigal [in London] and my loving son David Carrigal of Hebron to be equally divided share and share alike." Rabbi Carigal is an important reminder of the sacrifices Sephardic luminaries made to bring learning to the Jewish Atlantic World.

Transcription by L. Leibman of the "Will of Rabbi Raphael Haim Isaac Carrigal May 27th, 1777" (Barbados Department of Archives, Bridgetown, Barbados; RB6 25 pp. 111-12)

Entd May 27th, 1777

In the Name of God Amen I Raphael Him Isaac Carrigal of the Parish of St. Michael in the Island abovesaid Raby being sick and weak in body but of a sound and perfect disposing mind and memory do make & publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say. First I recommend my soul to the Almighty God of Israel imploring his Divine Goodness to pardon my sins. Impris I direct all my just debts and funeral Expenses be first fully paid and Satisfied Item I direct all my books and wearing apparel be send to Mr. Abraham Levi Hemenes of London one of my Executors here after mentioned to be remitted by him to my loving wife Hori Carrigal and my loving son David Carrigal of Hebron to be equally divided share and share alike. Item I direct that all my estate real and personal might be sold by my Executors hereafter named and the moneys arising therefrom to be remitted to London to Mr. Abraham Levi Hemenes one of my Executors here after named to be remitted to my loving wife Hore Carrigal and my loving son David Carrigal of Hebron to be equally divided share and share alike between them both and Lastly I nominate and appoint my loving friends Abraham Massiah Isaac Lind and Matthias Lopez of this Island and Mr Abraham Levi Hemenes of the City of London Executors of this my said Will hereby revoking and making void all former or other Wills by me heretofore made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this seventeenth day of May one thousand seven hundred and Seventy Seven.

Rephael Haim Carrigal (Seal)

Signed Sealed published and declared by the said Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of
Abm Depriza Moses Depriza Moses Lopez Junr

Barbados By His Excellency
Moses Lopez Junr one of the Subscribing Witness to within written Will this day personally appeared before me and made oath on the Five Books of Moses that he was present and did see Raphael Haim Isaac Carrigal the Testator therein named (Since decd) sign Seal publish and declare the same as and for this last Will and testament ad that he was at the executing thereof of a sound and disposing mind an memory to the best of his this deponents and Belief given at Pilgrim this 27th day of May 1777
Edward Hay

Further Readings:Karigal, Rabbi Haijm Isaac. “A Sermon Preached at the Synagogue in Newport,” Newport: S. Southwick, 1773.

Kohut, George Alexander. Ezra Stiles and the Jews. NY: Philip Cowen, 1902.

Leibman, Laura. "From the Holy Land to New England Canaan: Rabbi Karigal and Sephardic Itinerant Preaching in the 18th Century." Early American Literature 44.1 (March 2009).

Minna Rozen
, Hasköy Cemetery: Typology of Stones. Pennsylvania: Center for Judaic Studies, 1994.

Saperstein, Marc.
Jewish Preaching, 1200-1800: an Anthology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.
Singer, Rabbi Shmuel, "The Chacham for the Colonies: He Came from Hebron to the New World to Serve."

Stiles, Ezra.
Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, 3 volumes. Ed. F.B. Dexter. NY: C. Scribner's Sons, 1901.

Stiles, Ezra.
Itinerancies. Ezra Stiles papers, Beinecke Library. Yale University.


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