||Ethical work with kabbalistic content. R. Judah ben Abraham Khalaz (d. before 1537), scion of a distinguished family, left Castile for Granada in 1477, due to persecution of the Jews. Five years later he removed to Malaga, then, in 1486, to Honain, and finally to Tlemcen, Algeria, where he was a leader of the community, a teacher, and was regarded as one of the great rabbinic figures of his time. The family name Khalaz is, perhaps, derived from the Arabic khallaz, collector of taxes.
Sefer ha-Mefo'ar, better known by its subtitle, Sefer ha-Musar, is essentially an abridgment of Israel ben Joseph ibn Al-Nakawa's (Alnaqua, d. 1391) Menorat ha-Ma'or. A popular, but also a long, extensive, scholarly work-it was first printed in the twentieth century-Khalaz made the Menorat ha-Ma'or more accessible for the average person. Strangely, Al-Nakawa's name is not mentioned in the Sefer ha-Mefo'ar, nor in the lengthy introduction written by Moses ben Eliezer Khalaz, the nephew (grandson?) who brought the book to press. It has been suggested that this is due to the fact that Menorat ha-Ma'or was so well known to the Jews of North Africa that it was not necessary for Khalaz to mention his source, and that, as in many of his other books, Khalaz's sole objective was to provide a practical work for students and the average person. Furthermore, he does not, anywhere in the Sefer ha-Mefo'ar, take credit for having written the book.
A considerable amount of kabbalistic content is to be found in Sefer ha-Mefo'ar. Khalaz explains the inclusion of this material in the introduction, primarily from the Zohar. He has included it to elucidate the precepts and to aid in disseminating kabbalistic concepts among the Jewish public.
Sefer ha-Mefo'ar is divided into twenty chapters dealing with such topics as charity, repentance, humility, respect for parents, flattery, and rejoicing in one's lot, following the order of the Menorat ha-Ma'or. Sefer ha-Mefo'ar, however, is much more than a simple abridgment. Although the fourth chapter, on the obligations of prayer, comprising about a fifth of the book, is taken almost in its entirety from Al-Nakawa's work, the contents of other chapters do not follow the order of the original, and the style and language are completely different. Commentaries on earlier works and variant positions of earlier sages are omitted. Khalaz also added material of his own, as did Moses Khalaz, the latter primarily of kabbalistic content. Moses Khalaz's lengthy introduction was much abbreviated in later editions.
Khalaz wrote several other works, also primarily for students, among them a commentary on the Ramban's (Nahmanides, Moses b. Nahman) novellae on Bava Mezia; an introductory work to the Talmud; Alaggid Mishneh on the laws of shehitah in the Rambam (Maimonides); and Mesi'ah Illemim, on Rashi's Bible commentary.