Rabbi David De-Silva, Jerusalem physician of the eighteenth century

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This article presents the character of R. David de Silva (the RaDaS) an expert physician and native born Jerusalemite whose family origins are from Europe. Over the course of his life he made two trips to the West where he also received training as a certified physician. In that respect R. David de Silva may be considered the first physician of the land of Israel who studied 'modern' medicine in Europe. Upon his return to Jerusalem, he practiced medicine as a private physician for his livelihood and made his services available to members of all religions. R. de Silva wrote a comprehensive medical essay known as Peri Hcombining dot belowadash which until now has appeared in manuscript form only. This work represents a kind of journal in which he writes of the customs he witnessed and impressions gained while traveling in Europe, with a comparison to what was happening in Jerusalem. Beyond that, he cites examples of treatment that he gave to patients in Israel and abroad, which offers the reader an unusual glimpse into the life of a Jerusalem physician, on the one hand, and a faithful reflection of the daily life and realia of the Jewish community in Jerusalem of the eighteenth century or thereabouts. De Silva represents the period of transition between the end of the dominance of traditional Galenic-Arabic medicine and the first harbingers of modern European medicine and as such is an important resource for research into the history of medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-483
Number of pages27
JournalRevue des Études Juives
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2006


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