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[Page 14, Volume 1, Hebrew]

Chapter Three

The Golden Age

5252 – 5350 (1492 – 1590)

Translated by Judy Montel

Center For Torah And Science

The century after the arrival of those expelled from the Iberian Peninsula – and particularly the first fifty years of it – are considered the Golden Age of Jewish Saloniki. Intellectual and economic life flourished. The city was full of merchants, artisans, scientists, doctors, and mainly – Torah scholars and rabbis. Rabbi Benjamin HaLevi Ashkenazi, in his dirge on the fire of 5305 (1545) and the plagues of 5305 [1545] and 5308 [1548][1], wrote the following verses about the magnificence of Saloniki at the time:

“And wise men, kings of old and genius assembled there
Creating listeners for the Talmud is what they did
And the Yeshivas of the area contained lions and rabbis
Whose students stood in attendance upon them as well as others…
And the Torah went forth from them and all wisdoms and studies…
And where can speakers and preachers like them be found
Expert in mathematics, geometry and logic
And ready and willing in knowledge of the Divine…
Like physicians, aged in knowledge of all and in years
Expert as Galen, like a Chinaman and artists…
And his rabbi is like a rabbi of pleasant voice and cantors
Expert at reading from the Torah, educated and poets
As well as scribes like Ezra whose hands hold the artist's pen
And warn those who teach it like stars and galaxies…”
This testimony isn't poetic exaggeration, it matched the reality and what the rest of the rabbis and poets of the time wrote, such as Rabbi Ibn Habib, Rabbi Sa'adia Longo, and others.

I will mention here some of the great scholars of the generation and its leaders, appointees, those who made rulings and authors, and in the addenda to this chapter I will give a list of the rest of the important rabbis who lived and were active during the first generations from 5252 up to 5350 [1492 – 1590], the year in which Rabbi Shmuel di Medina died:

Rabbi Me'ir Halevi son of Rabbi Shimon, grandson of the Mahari”l, “The Amazing Rabbi, Crown of Israel's Glory”, rabbi of the H”C Ashkenaz in Saloniki who died in 5279 [1519], considered one of the leaders, not just because he stood at the head of an ancient congregation, but also due to his extensive knowledge.

Rabbi David Mesir Leon (his father, Rabbi Yehuda ben Yechiel, received the title “Mesir” in Naples, the meaning of which is like “Maestro”, a degree in Medicine and Philosophy), born in Mantua in 5232 (1472), studied Torah and secular sciences in Naples and became a Rabbi and a physician. He continued his studies with the Mahara”m of Padua and from there moved to Saloniki to be a Torah teacher at the H”C Calabria. He founded a Yeshiva, had many students and wrote many books, which remained in manuscript, among them the book “Eyn HaKoreh” [Eye of the Reader], a commentary on Maimonides' “Eight Chapters”. Since he had received his education and rabbinical ordination from his Ashkenazi teachers, he wanted to institute rabbinical ordination the Sephardic congregations as well (who did not have a custom of ordination, but for whom a student who excelled in his studies would naturally become, with the endorsement of his teachers, a rabbi and ruler on religious matters). He also introduced the study of the “Tosafists” to the city, which had not been popular among Sephardic Jews. In 5272 [1512] he was summoned to Valona to serve as a rabbi there.

It is interesting that Rabbi Ya'akov ibn Habib was one of the rabbis who argued in favor of adjusting to the customs of the earlier inhabitants of the city, the Italian Ashkenazim, even if he was, unlike Rabbi David Mesir Leon, a native of Zamora in Castille. He was born about 5200 (1440) and studied Torah with Rabbi Shmuel ben Rabbi Avraham Valensi. After the Spanish Expulsion he moved to Portugal and was expelled from there together with his young son Levi, arrived in Saloniki, and was appointed to be a teacher and rabbinical judge for the congregation of Calabria. Later, Rabbi David Mesir Leon received this position, and Rabbi Ya'akov ibn Habib moved to be a teacher for the H”C Spanish Expulsion until the day of his death.

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He was humble and modest, however as moderate and tolerant he was in his rulings, he was assertive towards the wealthy and the aristocrats, if they did not act according Jewish law. He was active in various affairs – in public affairs as well as writing and ruling. Together with Rabbi Eliezer HaShimoni and Rabbi Shlomo Taitachak he was one of the authors of the “Community Agreements” [Haskamot Hakehila], and according to his son's testimony, he was one of the first to set rules in connection with the problem of ownership and possession. In addition to this he taught Torah and general studies to his students, wrote the book “Ayn Ya'akov” [Eye {or Spring} of Jacob – famous compilation of Midrashic material in the Talmud], whose publication was completed after his death by the printer Yehuda Gedalia (5275 or 5276) [1515 or 1516], as well as responsa upon the “Four Columns” [Arba Turim – primary text compiling legal rulings], which were lost or remained in manuscript.

One of his well-known friends was Rabbi Eliezer HaShimoni, who apparently lived in the city before the Sephardim arrived and was considered one of the three most important rabbis in the first generation. He taught Torah to the H”C Catalan and at his initiative their unique Machzor [prayer book for holidays], “Machzor Catalan” was printed in 5286 (1526). He is mentioned by the rabbis of his era and those who followed him as a reliable precedent. There is no doubt that he was among those who dealt with the general community affairs, its organization and regulation. He died in the spring of 5290 (March 4, 1530), and left after him one son named Hanania who settled in Constantinople and devoted his money to supporting literature and science; and a second son, Astruk, who aided in the publication of the book “She'erit Yosef” by Rabbi Yosef ben Yeshua Chai (Saloniki, 5281 [1521]).

One of those who were aided by him was Rabbi Me'ir Arama (or Ibn Arama)[2], son of Rabbi Yitzchak Arama, author of “Akeidat Yitzchak”. Rabbi Me'ir was born in Zaragoza (or in Calatayud) in about 5220(1460), in 5252 (1492) he left Spain with his father and found refuge in Naples. When his father died in 5255 (1495) he came to settle in Saloniki, and here he was appointed teacher at the H”C Aragon. Despite dealing with the needs of his congregation he did not neglect his literary work and wrote philological and philosophical commentaries to a number of biblical books (one on Isaiah and Jeremiah called “Urim and Tumim” – Venice 5363; on Psalms – “Me'ir Tehilot”, Venice, 5350; on Job – “Me'ir Iyov”, Saloniki 5272 or 5277, perhaps the first book that was printed

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in the city[3]; as well as a commentary on the Song of Songs and on a number of chapters from the book of Samuel); he wrote a criticism of Don Yitzchak Abrabanel who quoted his father's “Akeidat Yitzchak” without citing the source, as well as a commentary on the Pentateuch. He responded to halachic questions and made some attempts at writing liturgical and secular poetry[4]. He died in 5286 (1526).

Another personality who arrived at the city at that time was Rabbi Yosef Fasi, who was born in Tulitula in about 5222 (1462), where he was a student of Rabbi Yitzchak Abohav and Don Yitzchak Abrabanel, very studious and knowledgeable in the Talmud and later arbiters from a young age. In Saloniki he founded an important Yeshiva. After 5274 (1514) he moved to Adrianopol where he died. He sons: Rabbi Me'ir and Rabbi Yitzchak. Few of his writings are extant, only a few responsa of his that appeared in the books of his colleagues remain of his writings, as well as some of his innovations on the Tractate of Ketubot in manuscript. He was a signatory to the community “Regulations”. Among his outstanding pupils were Don Shmuel, the son of Don Yitzchak Abrabanel, Rabbi Shlomo Attia, Rabbi Yisra'el di Korial, Rabbi Avraham Siralov and Rabbi Me'ir Ibn Virga.

Rabbi Yosef Taitachak was a member of the second committee that drew up regulations. He also left Spain and emigrated to Portugal, and in 5257, after the Portuguese expulsion, he settled in Saloniki with his three sons: Shmuel, Yosef and Avraham. We have very little information about him, but his sons were very active after he died, and his son Rabbi Yosef especially made his mark upon the city and its scholars.

Rabbi Yosef Taitachak was born in about 5230 [1470] in Castille, but he received his basic and continuing education in Saloniki. He founded a Yeshiva, which became the most famous and important one in the entire Orient. Some of his students were: Rabbi Moshe Alsheich, the commentator on the Pentateuch, Rabbi Yitzchak Moshe Aroyo, Rabbi Shmuel di Medina, Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, the Kabbalist who composed “Lecha Dodi” and Rabbi Yitzchak Adrebi – who later took their place at the head of the rabbis and leaders in Saloniki itself as well as in Constantinople and in Safed, the spiritual centers of the time. His knowledge and generous character caused the entire nation and his fellow scholars to admire him. In about 5300 [1540], he was summoned by the aristocratic doctor, Moshe Hamon from Constantinople to stand at the head of a Yeshiva he had just founded there. From there he continued to exchange letters with his colleagues in Saloniki and with the great scholars of his generation, who referred questions to him, such as Rabbi David HaKohen from Corfu, Rabbi Yosef Karo, Rabbi Yosef ben Lev as well as Rabbi Eliahu Kapsali and Rabbi Benjamin of Arta, and his rulings were accepted without question everywhere. In his Yeshiva the Talmud and arbiters were studied, as well as Kabbalistic literature. One of his students who was influenced by him and influenced him as well was the Converso from Portugal, Don Diego Pires, known by the name Shlomo Molcho. He was humble, satisfied with but a little and lived a live of severe self-torture.

We know of over twelve of his books (some of which were published, others remained in manuscript and others were lost), among them commentaries on the Pentateuch, on the books of Samuel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve Prophets, as well as the Five Scrolls, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Daniel; a commentary on the Sayings of the Fathers; responsa in the books of his colleagues and his son's book, “She'erit Yehuda”, and also an essay on the “Astrolabe”. In his rulings he generally followed the opinion of the Rashb”a. He died in Constantinople, at a great age and of great accomplishment, before 5311 [1551], and Rabbi Sa'adia Longo eulogized him.

A contemporary of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak was Rabbi Levi ibn Habib (Ralba”ch), the son of Rabbi Ya'akov ibn Habib. In Saloniki he studied and wrote his essays on the Shmitta [Sabbatical Year] and continued o publish his father's book “Ayn Ya'akov” (Saloniki, 5276 [1516]), as well as an essay on the calendar computations and the secret of the leap year according to Maimonides (published usually in the “Yad HaChazaka” [by Maimonides]). In spite of the fact that he was respected and had property in Saloniki, he decided to move to Jerusalem in 5285 (1525) and became one of the rabbis there. He was one of the fierce opponents of Rabbi Ya'akov Beirav in the matter of the reestablishment of the ordination in Safed. In contrast to the scholars of his generation and surroundings, he did not delve into the hidden wisdom. All of his wealth, which he brought from Saloniki, he spent for the benefit of the settlement in Jerusalem.

Famous in his time and ever since was also Rabbi Yosef ben David Ben Lev, who was born in Monastir in approximately 5260 (1500). He was forced to leave his birthplace after a disagreement with the elder rabbi of the city and moved to Saloniki after 5294 (1534). He was zealous of God and his Torah; just as he had opposed the rabbi from Monastir in a matter that seemed to him unjust, thus he was among the opponents of the dictatorial aristocrat Baruch, who had terrorized the inhabitants and rabbis of Saloniki. He battled him fiercely and attempted to control him via the great scholars of Constantinople, but Baruch – according to the theory – did not stop at sending murderers to kill David, the son of Rabbi Yosef Ben Lev, as well as to abuse the man himself. Since in the end the aristocrats and rabbis of the city all compromised or gave in to Baruch, Rabbi Yosef left Saloniki and went to head a Yeshiva in Constantinople. He came to the city a second time, briefly,

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but returned to Constantinople and died there in the summer of 5346 (1586). He was one of the instigators of the boycott of Ancona and stood behind his opinion that it should be continued, in spite of the retreat of his fellow rabbis. He wrote responsa on the four sections of the “Shulchan Aruch” as well as innovations on the laws in the tractates of Ketubot, Gittin, Baba Kama and Shevuot (Amsterdam, 5486 – 1726), and responded to questions from Monastir, Saloniki, Constantinople, Belgrade, Valona, Gallipoli, Bahgdad, and more.

At the same time Rabbi Yosef Karo arrived in the city in connection with his work on his book “Beit Yosef”, to use the precious books from the manuscripts that were in its great libraries, where he worked for several years. He participated, with the rest of the scholars of the time in negotiations about the Halacha and was also one of the signatories to the community regulations in 5293 and 5294 [1533 and 1534]. While he was in the city his daughter Buena died.

One of the important rabbis of the time was also Rabbi Benjamin ben Rabbi Me'ir Halevi Ashkenazi, son of the grandson of the Mahari”l, a rabbi at the H”C Ashkenaz, a scholar and a poet. He was a “singer and great in the Torah” and well-liked by most of his brethren. Even though he was born and bred Ashkenazi, all the congregations elected him as a delegate to Constantinople. He died in 5319 [1559], and Longo eulogized him.

A New Generation – The Lions Of The Group

During the second generation as well, Saloniki was filled with rabbis and scholars like a pomegranate. It is therefore no wonder if our list (see in the addenda to this chapter) became long, even though I do not list there any except those described as “Chacham Shalem “ [Perfect Sage], whose names were mentioned with honor in the books of the time or on the epitaphs on their tombstones.

Among these many rabbis, those born in the city who are considered the second and third generation after the expulsion, were especially outstanding: Rabbi Mordechai Matalon, Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino, Rabbi Yitzchak Adrebi, Rabbi Shlomo Halevi the Elder and Rabbi Shmuel di Medina, known as Maharshda”m, all of whom we will discuss briefly:

Let us begin with the last: Rabbi Shmuel di Medina was born in Saloniki in 5266 (1506), studied Torah at the Yeshivas of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak and Ralba”ch, in his youth he was discovered to have genius and perseverance, and at the age of twenty-five already served in the rabbinate. In spite of the family tragedies that befell him (his sister and two sons-in-law died in one year, and he was forced to take on responsibility for his widowed daughters and his grandchildren; a short while later his brother died, who had been helping him financially), he was very active in community affairs, and found comfort in the study of Torah. He corresponded with the great men of his day, such as Rabbi David Ben Zimra, Rabbi Yosef Karo, Rabbi Betzalel Halevi Ashkenazi, Rabbi Yosef Ben Lev, and learned much from them as well. The excellent economic situation of the community and the expansion of the network of Yeshivas and other houses of study in the city helped him expand his horizons and deepen his knowledge. He also founded a Yeshiva from which the great rabbis of the next generation came forth both in Saloniki and the rest of the Diaspora. He had an interesting teaching method. He would assign the same Talmudic issue to all of his students and would ask them to explain it and to list the various issues in writing, along with their own innovations. After this “Symposium” he would summarize the issues according to his own approach. Little by little he turned into the central figure and the uncrowned leader of the community. In 5311 [1551] he was sent to Constantinople by the community to obtain permits for building new synagogues after the fire of 5305 [1545], and remained there for about a year. When he returned, he was appointed a Torah teacher at the H”C Portugal, and afterwards at the H”C Spanish Expulsion, and some time later - to lead the yeshiva that Dona Gracia Mendesia (Nasi) founded in the city. At his death he was the Torah teacher of the H”C Lisbon.

He was humble but assertive at the same time, and while he worked for the unification of the congregations, he respected the autonomy of those who did not want to be merged and zealously protected their rights. In his writings he made Halachic decisions in all the religious, economic and civic problems of the community, clear and transparent rulings, and his words, over time, became the obligatory codex of all of the rabbis of the city in their generations. He rejected any intervention of the rabbis of Safed and Constantinople in connection with the special customs and regulations of the inhabitants of Saloniki.[5]

He died an elderly man on the second of Cheshvan 5350 (1590), after he had become the most admired rabbi and greatest rabbinical authority of his generation and those that came after.

At his death, Rashda”m left three daughters and two sons. One of these, Moshe, is mentioned among the rabbinical judges of his day as having brought “implements of the press and excellent artists from distant lands”, and with this press he published the responsa literature of his father and other books. He died after the year 5360 [1600].

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One of Rabbi Shmuel di Medina's great friends was Rabbi Moshe ben Rabbi Baruch Almoshnino who was born in Saloniki in 5278 (1518). As the son of a wealthy and aristocratic family he received a general education, learned Talmud and the arbiters from Rabbi Moshe Boton, and science and philosophy from the doctors Rabbi Perachia Hakohen and Rabbi Aharon Afiya. At a young age he was appointed as a Torah teacher of the H”C Catalan in 5312 [1552] and later as a Torah teacher at H”C Neveh Shalom (Calabriem), in 5313 [1553]. When the synagogue H”C Leviyat Chen (named after Chana nee Nasi, that is, Dona Gracia), which was later known as H”C Yichye, he was summoned to serve there.

Rabbi Moshe, who was an excellent speaker and a prolific author, was first and foremost one of the leaders of the generation and the community's emissary to Constantinople in times of trouble, he helped establish yeshivas and houses of study and aided their support, and cared for the poor and downtrodden; “he was the chief of the speakers in every place, died in Constantinople in the service (sent by) the Holy Congregations that are here Saloniki,” in the month of Tishrei 5340 (1579). Upon his death he left two sons: Shimon and Baruch. He wrote many books, among them: “Ma'amatz Ko'ach”, sermons (5347 [1588]), and other sermons which remained in manuscript; “Il Regimiento di la Vida” (Manner of Life); “Extremos i Grandezas de Constaninopla (Madrid, 1638); three volumes of responsa in manuscript, etc.[6]

Rabbi Mordechai ben Rabbi Chaim Matalon, a student of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak, one of the signatories to the community regulations, was a Torah teacher at the H”C Calabria-Yashan, which was called Neveh Shalom, was also a halachic arbiter and “knowledgeable in all sorts of sciences”. He died in 5340 (1580). He excelled in his philosophical knowledge, and in spite of his wealth, he behaved modestly. Rabbi Ya'akov Matalon, who died at a young age, and wrote the books “She'erit Ya'akov” and “Toldot Ya'akov”, was his brother's son.

Rabbi Yitzchak ben Rabbi Shmuel Adrebi, born in about 5280 [1520], was a student of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak, an arbiter, speaker and one of the signatories to the community regulations. In his youth he was a Torah teacher at the H”C Lisbon and later a rabbi at the H”C Shalom for 32 years, until his death. He was a colleague of Rabbi Shmuel di Medina and signed the regulations with him. He wrote a volume of responsa called “Divrei Rivot”, and a volume of sermons, thirty in number, called “Divrei Shalom”. He died in 5344 (1584).

Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi, called the Elder, was born in 5292 [1532], was a signatory to the community regulations, speaker, arbiter, author and poet. He was a Torah teacher in the H”C Evora and Provincia. He died in 5360 (1600).

We must here mention one of the students of Rashda”m who excelled at that time, and he is Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Moshe di Boton, who wrote a commentary on the Maimonides called “Lechem Mishne” and responsa entitled “Lechem Rav”. He died after 5351 [1591].

“Haskamot” – Community Regulations 5253-5344 (1493-1584)

The rabbis of this period instituted many regulations for the public benefit, and these are the most important ones that are known to me:

In 5253 (?): No Jew is allowed to lease more than one shop or lot. This regulation is ancient and was instituted before Rabbi Ya'akov ben Habib arrived in Saloniki (Responsa Riba”l, Part A, Amsterdam 5486 [1726], page 32, A), and it was reinstated in 5313 [1553] (Rabbi Avraham Istrosa, “Yadecha Avraham,” page 54, A).

In 5253 (about) [1493]: No Jew may lease a shop, house or lot from the Tugar (Turk) in which another Jew is living. The Jew who lives there loses his rights of possession if he moves from the house, and his house remains empty for three years.

During 5240-5274 [1480-1514]: Various regulations regarding conversos (see below).

In 5272 [1512]: One who buys the rights of possession from a Turk that is in the possession of a Jew must pay the Jew the value of the rights of possession and all of the expenses the Jew has made such as: repairs or new buildings, even if these expenses are greater than the value of the rights of possession (Responsa of the Rashda”m, Part 40, paragraph 227, page 121, A), according to two or three appraisers appointed by the congregations (Rabbi Chaim Sabati, “Torat Chaim”, Part 1, page 77, A).

In 5285 [1525]: No Jew may leave his congregation and register in another one or to create with others, a new congregation. (Rabbi Y. Adrebi).

In 5289 [1529]: It is forbidden to print anything without receiving permission from six Torah scholars among the Torah teachers of the congregations (Danon).

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Before 5290 [1530]: The holder of the right of possession does not have the right of preemption (Danon).

Before 5300 [1540]: It is forbidden to take wool and “Anir” out of Saloniki and the distance of three days journey from Saloniki as well as to send them to another kingdom or sell them to gentiles, signed by 15 rabbis and wealthy men.

In 5309 [1549]: “Any lung that is stuck to the side and which does not rise when inflated, the meat of the animal is forbidden and 'traifa' [non-kosher]”. Signed by ten Torah teachers in the congregations (Rabbi Yosef Molcho, “Shulchan Gavoha”).

Before 5311 [1551]: Not to allow the butchers to slaughter because they drink spirits and wine and will come into error. This Regulation was made before 5311 [1551], and was signed by Rabbi Shmuel Almoshnino, Rabbi Avraham Siralov, Rabbi Chaim Ovadia, Rabbi Benjamin Halevi Ashkenazi, Rashda”m and Rabbi Shlomo ibn Hasson the Elder (“Shulchan Gavoha”). Over the years the butchers were allowed to slaughter if the shochet was standing next to them. The aforementioned rabbis also agreed to exempt the ritual slaughterer [shochet] from payment for the non-kosher meat “if he slaughtered with a knife that had been checked [for sharpness] and after the slaughter was found to have a defect” (ibid.).

In 5312 [1552]: No son of Israel may “play with dice” within the walls of the city of Saloniki.

In 5315 [1555]: “No son of Israel may slaughter and check [ritually] in the 'Salhana' (slaughterhouse) except those checkers who have been selected by a majority of the sages of the Holy Congregations.” However, if one of the congregations would like to slaughter for its own members, “the [ritual] slaughterer and checker will be selected according to the guidance of three sages, honest and upright men of Israel from the Torah teachers of the H”C.” (Danon).

In 5315 [1555]: It is forbidden for the congregations to conduct an exhibition of clothing for the poor and the orphans on the Shabbat of Chanuka in order to not compete with such an exhibition that took place on the same Shabbat in the Talmud Torah society. It is forbidden to the congregations or to anyone to conduct an appeal for clothing for the poor with out the permission of a scribe of the great Talmud Torah and two registered rabbis from the city (Molcho-Amarilio, Sfunot).

In 5318 [1558]: One may not sue for inheritance or a ketuba [marriage contract] except according to the Torah, that is, not to sue for legacies or ketubot in the courts of the gentiles. The sages of Constantinople signed this regulation as well (Danon).

In 5314-5324 [1554-1564]: It is forbidden to walk the bride from her own home to the home of her husband at night. Also, that women should not go out into the streets with nose rings, precious stones or pearls, except for one ring. As well, musicians, “all who held a fiddle or organ”, were forbidden to play or sing at joyous occasions except for women. This last regulation was renewed again in 5324 [1564] for an addition decade, and then men were forbidden to dance with the women. On the very same day the textile weavers were forbidden to lend money from those who gave out the work (Danon).

Before 5319 [1559]: If a Jew did not pay the rent on a possession, even if he lived in a house that he had held for over three years, he had no right of possession. Nine of the Torah teachers at the congregations signed this, among them Rabbi Benjamin Halevi Ashkenazi, who died in 5319 (“Yerech Avraham”, page 49, A, 54A).

In 5320 [1560]: The patrons of the Talmud Torah are not allowed to accept any patient to the Talmud Torah's hospital before he is checked by a doctor of the Talmud Torah to check if he doesn't have an infectious disease that would endanger the students and the guests (Sefunot, ibid.).

In 5323 [1562]: Nine rabbis from among the leaders of the congregations agreed amongst themselves, each in accordance with the other, that they would not allow a tax to be levied upon them. And these are their names: Rabbi Avraham Siralov, Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino, Rabbi Shlomo of the house of Chazan, Rabbi Yitzchak Bch”r Shmuel Adrebi, Rabbi Daniel Perachia Hakohen, Rabbi Shmuel di Medina and Rabbi Mordechai Matalon (Danon).

In 5325 [1565]: The holder of a property loses the right of possession if he leaves the house or lot or shop that he has and they remain vacant for ten years (“Yerech Avraham”, ibid.). This regulation was renewed in 5345 [1585].

In 5326 [1566]: Any regulation “which is not signed by most of the Torah teachers from the congregations… and which is not declared with their permission and agreement, will be like broken pottery… except the regulations made in each and every congregation on their own behalf.” (Danon).

In 5328 [1568]: They agreed to levy “Gabila” (indirect community tax) on the goods which go in and out of the city for a period of ten years, in order to pay the expenses of the delegation to Constantinople and the tax which is called “Musilimlik” (Danon).

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In 5328 [1568]: It was forbidden to perform an engagement with a woman except in the presence of ten adult Jews older than 18 years of age. This regulation was renewed in 5502 [1742], and they added that the engagement must be held in the presence of the fathers of the groom and the bride. And if they have no father, it must be held in the presence of those most closely related to them. “And this [regulation] was mentioned in the Talmud Torah at a large gathering” (Danon; Rabbi Avraham Kovo, “Chayei Avraham”; Rabbi David Pipano, “Avnei Haefod”).

In 5331 [1571]: It is forbidden for the society of foreigners “Chevra di los Forastiros” to hold an appeal on the day of Purim. This right was reserved for the Talmud Torah society (Sfunot, ibid.).

In 5335 [1575]: It was forbidden for fiances to enter the homes of their fiancees. (Responsa Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Habachur [The Younger]).

In 5344 [1584]: It is forbidden to purchase a house, lot or shop or Mukta'a (a lease, real estate that a Jew has leased from a Turk) from a Gentile or Tugar (Turk) that another Jews holds in all and any circumstances.

Doctors – Amatus Lusitanus

According to sources and testimony of travelling Christians who visited Turkey during the 16th century, most of the doctors in the kingdom in those years were Jews, some of them “outstanding sages in wisdom and action.” Among the doctors known to me who were active in Saloniki from 5260 until 5350 (1500-1590) were the following:

Shlomo son of his honor our teacher Rabbi Don Shmuel, son of the minister bureaucrat Don Shem Tov ben Habib, died in 5264 [1504]; Yosef Faro, died in 5272 [1512] ; a doctor named Shmuel, died in 5275 [1515]; Yitzchak Boshaldo, died in 5264 [1504]; Shem Tov Avshraga (supported the publication of “Yalkut Shimoni” on the Torah 5283 [1523]); Maestro Rabbi Shlomo Halevi from Portugal; Rabbi Shlomo Cavalier; Shem Tov son of the doctor Yitzchak Bueno, died in about 5301 [1541]; Avraham Gagin, died in 5302 [1542]; Don Yitzchak Abrabanel and Yitzchak ibn Alzo, who died in 5303 [1543]; Shlomo bar Ezra Suleima “Head of all the Doctors”, died in about 5302 [1542]; David Shalem, died in 5307 [1547]; And his son Avraham; Elia Sarfati (the father of the brother-in-law of Rabbi Benjamin Halevi Ashkenazi), died before 5310 [1550]; Rabbi Perachia Hakohen, and his sons Shmuel and Daniel; Ya'akov Melamed, died in 5317 [1557]; and his son Shem Tov, who was also active as a rabbi in Patras; Yosef ben Tam ibn Yichye, died in the service of the Sultan Suleiman and was eulogized by Longo; Aharon Efya, described by Amatus Lusitanus as “Doctorem Affium, Philosophum Peripateticum”, author of “Opiniones Sacadas De Los Mas Autenticos Y Antiguos Philosophos Que Sobre La Alma Escribieron Y Sus Definiciones,” Venezia, 1568.

Of these doctors, Amatus Lusitanus excelled particularly. He was one of the conversos who was arrested in Ancona by Pope Paul IV in 5316 [1556], but pretended to be a loyal Christian and was saved. Then he sent his wife to Saloniki in about 5319 [1559], left there in secret, settled in the city himself and there returned to his Judaism openly. In Saloniki he finished writing the sixth Senatoria of his important book “curationum Septem Medicinalium Centuriae (December 1559), and dedicated it to his friend Don Yosef Nasi. In this dedication Amatus tells Don Yosef about his many journeys with these words: “I abandoned my property… I went to Pisaro and from there to Ragoza… they took from me gold, silver, the clothing of a royal courtier… and in particular, my important library, the manuscript of the fifth Senatoria nearly completed, commentary I had made upon the fourth Senatoria, the end of the Book of Even Sina that I wrote some time before this [event]. All was in the crate.” Amatus continued to tell that by recommendations and efforts on his behalf and thanks to a merchant from Saloniki called Avraham Chudara, he succeeded in retrieving some of his writings. From this dedication to Don Yosef Nasi ione can deduce that Amatus translated Eutrope's History of Rome into Spanish, a book he also wanted to dedicate to Don Yosef. As we know, Amatus discovered the periodic circulation of blood in human arteries. In Saloniki he wrote the seventh Senatoria which he dedicated to Don Gedalia ben Moshe ibn Yichye. In his dedication Amatus announces that Saloniki was a city filled with various people “tortured by evil, ruthless and complicated diseases”, with only a few doctors, and that he wrote this Senatoria to aid the doctors who would come after him. He died in 5328 [1568].

Other doctors at the time were: Yehuda Uziel, active in 5319 [1559]; Yosef Uziel; Yehuda Abrabanel; Ya'akov Daniel, “Doctor and Sage”, who died in Safed and was eulogized by Longo; Daniel Gagin, who died in 5333 [1573]; Moshe Barzilai, a contemporary of the Rashda”m; Shmuel son of our teacher the honorable rabbi Yosef Uziel, and a doctor called Benjamin.

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Poets And Wordsmiths

In this period there was a community of poets and wordsmiths in Saloniki who developed poetry, grammar and expression in the language of the past. Among the earlier ones who are known: A poet named Yosef (died in 5272 [1512]); Yosef ben Moseh Kagopuno (died in about 5275 [1515]); Eliezer Todros (died in 5287 [1527]); Eliezer Sarfati (died in 5310 [1550]) and many other important people.

One of the excellent was Sa'adia ben Avraham Longo, who was born in Constantinople in 5270 (1510), moved to Saloniki after 5296 [1536], and was appointed as a cantor in the H”C Castille. He also sent his poems to poets who were his contemporaries, for at the time there were many in the city, and he accepted their poems and the intellectuals and fans of declamation read them in public. He wrote dirges for the great people of the nation, which were printed on in part in the book “Seder Zemanim” [Order of Times] (Saloniki, 5354 [1594])[7]. Many of his poems remained in manuscript[8]. In about 5357 [1597] he moved to Adrianopol.

Besides Longo there were many other poets during that period whose names turned up in various manuscripts[9]. At the same time there were also teachers who taught intelligent people to speak purely, such as Rabbi Avraham Baruch, about whom Sa'adia Longo wrote: “His home is opened to all… to him people look to be taught a book and language, quickly learning to speak purely…he was the father of all the sons of Ever our holy tongue. He listened and made many rules according to this excellent taste and mind… and in his bedroom many honored ministers and some of the nobles and magnates of the land entered into his house, great and small, no one was ashamed or afraid… wise and clever men.” [10]. Among these noblemen who supported the poets and who themselves wrote poetry were the wealthy and famous family of Yichye, and their home was a place of congregation for every poet and wordsmith.

The Talmud Torah Society

At the start of the influx of the Jews who had been expelled from Spain, every congregation took care of the education of its “only” sons separately, however the community leaders quickly reached the conclusion that the education of the boys needed to be done in a centralized fashion that was not dependent upon the congregations. Therefore, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, they founded a large elementary school for the sons of the poor and the wealthy, jointly for all of the congregations without any payment at all called “Talmud Torah Society.” At its start, the institution was intended to only be a school for teaching students, whose numbers, in the seventeenth century, had risen, according to the French traveler de la Croix, to ten thousand, and whose teachers, according to the traveler Mustafa ben Abdullah Hadji Halfa – numbered two hundred. However, over the years the Talmud Torah turned into an institution that united within itself all of the general communal aid societies of the Jewish community. Within its walls were then established: a hospital for physical and mental illness, a guest hostel, a factory for simple and delicate cloth called “Soframanim”, as well as a press, which continued from 5465 until after 5578 [1705-1818].

Since this institution belonged, like the cemetery, to all of the congregations, all of the Jews participated, either directly or indirectly, in paying for its expenses. Therefore, it had much income. For instance, every Jew was obligated to pay a tax called “Gabila” on foodstuffs, on various merchandise and particularly on wool; fines that the rabbis or congregational appointees would levy on someone who had not kept some agreement with his congregation or with another individual, were transferred to the Talmud Torah coffers; this institution had income from the textile industry, and particularly the delicate work (Soframanim) (in 5436, for example, they wove five thousand cubits). Aside from this income the leaders of the Talmud Torah would loan out money with rabbinical sanction (Heter Iska [Business Permit]) and rent out apartments and shops which belonged to the institution.

Every Shabbat Chanuka thousands of needy students would receive shirts, pants, coats, dresses, hats and shoes from the community. The students in the upper classes would receive a weekly allowance and so would those who had finished their course of studies and gone to learn in the famous yeshivas in the city. The allowance for the yeshiva students was between six and ten “whites” a week, and was awarded for two years.

There were many who left legacies and dedicated during their lifetimes or at their deaths large sums, houses, lots and shops of value to the benefit of this cherished institution and its existence, among them also Jews who lived outside of Saloniki.[11]

Since the institution needed water for the thousands of students and patients, as well as for the clothing industry, many of the wealthy people of the city, from generation to generation, donated funds for repairing the pipelines of several of the streets of the neighborhood or to pay for installing the faucets, the reservoirs and the canals. Mordechai Talwi, for instance, built an aquaduct, and Yosef Chakim sent a type of sink from Constantinople (the poet Sa'adia Longo wrote epigrams at this opportunity); Yitzchak Amaraji, in about 5440 [1680]; the Minister and clerk Yosef Zunana and the wealthy Moshe Yitzchak Kuinka in 5512 [1752] “who gave money its outlet,” the first “to make a reservoir… to water the flocks of sheep” and the latter two “sent gold flowing” to repair the pipelines “and they filled with water.”

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During the sixteenth century every congregation would choose one of its members as a member on the committee of the large Talmud Torah. Over the years, seven leaders were appointed. During the last generation the community committee and the chief rabbinate appointed these leaders.

The Talmud Torah society from its inception, through the generations and until our times taught important rabbis, among them: Rabbi Yitzchak ben Rabbi Yosef Pardo, Rabbi Avraham Konembrial, Rabbi Shmuel Florentine, Rabbi Yehoshua Berzilai, Rabbi Yizchak Franko, Rabbi David Levi Mintz Ashkenazi, Rabbi Benjamin Eliash, Rabbi Yitzchak Liel, Rabbi Yom Tov Gevirol, Rabbi David Jirashi, Rabbi Baruch Angel, and others. In the last generation the principals were: Moshe Ya'akov Ottolenghi, who died in 5661 [1901], and after him – Ch”M Eliahu Chasson, Ya'akov Eliahu Cohen and Yitzchak Epstein.

Thanks to sages and rabbis, to doctors, to poets, to wordsmiths, thanks to several families like Benbenishti, Bivas, Uziel, Alconstantini and others, who acquired important libraries with various manuscripts, and thanks to the unique institution which was the Talmud Torah Society, Saloniki, from the time of the Spanish expulsion until the year 5350 [1590], reached the height of its glory. This period is considered the Golden Age of the Jews of Saloniki.

Addenda To Chapter Three

Here is a list of sages, rabbis and authors who were active in this period of time, and who are mentioned in books of the time and in the tombstones of the cemetery:

Rabbi Shmuel Franko “Abir Haro'im”, a respected elder, who came to Saloniki early, died before 5275 [1515]; Rabbi Yitzchak Bargilon, died of old age in 5269 [1509]; Rabbi Yitzchak Amarilio, his colleague, one of the elderly rabbies who was the teacher of Rabbi Chaim Ovadia di Busal; Rabbi Yehuda Benbeneshet, one of the three rabbis “doing the holy work” in 5274 [1514]; Rabbi Avraham of the house of Franko, “A lion from the seed of Orion”, expert in “Mishna, Talmud, the Zohar and Kabbala,” died in 5281 [1511]; Rabbi Moshe Aruchim, one of the signatories on the first regulations, traveled to the land of the deer [Israel]; Rabbi Yosef ibn Forna, died 5281 [1521]; Rabbi Elazar Formon, died 5285 [1525]; Don Bonafus Alconstantini died before 5290 [1530]; Rabbi Crescas Sedes, a colleague of Rabbi Eliezer Hashimoni; Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Shmuel Cavalier, great-grandson and grandson of Maestro Shmuel Delunel, doctor and sage, and according to Rosanes was the rabbi of H”C Portugal and published the “Yalkut Shimoni” on the Torah in 5287 [1527], died in 5290 [1530]; the “Chacham” [Sage] Rabbi Shlomo ibn Nemias, died in about 5290 [1530]; Rabbi Shmuel ben Shueib, Torah teacher at H”C Aragon, published a commentary on Lamentations and Psalms by his father, Rabbi Joel, died in 5288 [1528]; “The General Rabbi” in all wisdoms Shlomo Hakohen Italiano, died in 5292 [1532]; “The Divine Sage” Don David ibn Shushan, and he sent an “epigram” to Don Yehuda Benbeneshet, colleague of Rabbi Ya'akov ben Habib, died before 5293 [1533], apparently in Jerusalem; “Sage and Elevated” Don Shmuel ibn Shushan; Rabbi Shlomo Hakohen ibn Ardut; Rabbi Moshe Albalada the First who wrote a commentary on Rash”i on the Torah (Constantinople 5285 [1525]).

Rabbi Avraham of the house of Chazan, “who stood in the breech” one of the signatories to the regulations, died in 5295 [1535]; Rabbi Eliahu Falcon his colleague, expert in laws of possession; Rabbi Shmuel Albocher of the signatories to the regulations in 5289 [1529]; the “Chacham” Shmuel Halevi; the Complete “Chacham” Rabbi Moshe Castiliar, died in 5298 [1538]; Rabbi Shem Tov Alchanati, a signatory to the regulations, rabbi of H”C Castile (before the expulsion he was the scribe and proof-reader of Rabbi Yitzchak Arama), the poet Sa'adia Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Shlomo Pagi, died before 5293 [1533]; Rabbi Ya'akov Saba, a signatory to the regulations; Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Moshe Hassan; “The Sage, the doctor the expert Maistro Shlomo of the house of Halevi… Prince [Nasi] of the Princes of Levi”, the father of the father of Rabbi Shlomo Halevi the Elder, died in about 5298 [1538], left after him two scholarly sons: Yitzchak and Ya'akov; Don David Ban Beneshet, a contemporary of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak; Rabbi Shlomo Sarfati; Rabbi Yehoshua ben Rabbi Shlomo Halevi ibn Alkabetz, the brother of the father of the Kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz; Rabbi Ya'akov Sarfati, Torah teacher at the H”C Aragon, signatory to the regulations of 5289 [1529] and 5293 [1533], died before 5301 [1541]; Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ya'akov Sarfati; Rabbi Yitzchak Arama who wanted the position of rabbi at H”C Aragon instead of the aforementioned Rabbi Ya'akov Sarfati; Rabbi Shlomo ibn Porat; Rabbi Avraham Ben Rabbi Shlomo Taitachak, the brother of Rabbi Yosef, who was called “Ba'al Sevara” [Holder of Opinion], signatory to a regulation in 5293 [1533], died in 5302 [1542]; the Complete Sage Yehuda Natan, a signatory to the community regulations, he is mentioned respectfully by Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino, and his commentary on Lamentations and the rest of his works remained in manuscript; Rabbi Yehusef Davron; Rabbi Shmuel Uziel, who was expelled from Spain and a signatory to the regulations, a doctor and sage, a rabbi at the H”C Gerush [Expulsion] after the death of Rabbi Ya'akov ibn Habib, eulogized by Longo; Rabbi Yitzchak Varon, a student of Rabbi Levi ibn Habib, Torah teacher in H”C Ishmael (Calabria Chadash); Rabbi Me'ir ben Rabbi Yosef Pasi who settled in Jerusalem; Rabbi Yitzchak his brother; Rabbi Shmuel Alkalai.

Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Shem Tov Atia, author of a commentary on Psalms (he left us a list of the rabbis of his time)[12]; Benjamin Papo and the Kabbalist Baruch Ashkenazi the Younger who are mentioned by Atia; Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Eliezer Shalom, of the signatories to the regulations; Rabbi Shlomo Sedelio; Rabbi Shmuel the brother of Rabbi Shlomo Aita, Rabbi Shlomo Grazo and Rabbi Shmuel Metrani, who settled in Safed; the “Complete Chacham” Rabbi Yitzchak Yavetz, head of the Yavetz printing family in Saloniki, died in 5308 [1548]; Rabbi Yechiel bar Moshe Ashkenazi one of the signatories to the regulations before 5309 [1549]; Yabbi Yehuda Uziel, expelled from Spain, eulogized by Longo; Don Yechida Gedalia the “Pious One of Great Expertise”, died in 5315 [1555], and Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Perachia Hakohen, doctor and scholar, Torah teacher in H”C Italia, a signatory to the regulations, died in 5308 [1548], Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino and Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Shmuel Almoshnino, “Our teacher and rabbi, chief

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responder, rabbi of the people and for other rabbis”, Torah teacher in H”C Catalan for forty years, a signatory to the regulations, wrote a commentary on Rash”i, on the Torah, and on several of the prophets of the Twelve, died in 5211 [1551], was eulogized by Rabbi Shlomo Halevi theElder and by Longo; Rabbi Eliezer Todoros his colleague; Rabbi Me'ir ibn Virga, a student of Rabbi Yosef Pasi, lived for a time in Avilona, a free thinker, in his sermons he opposed the method of Maimonides, died in 5310 [1550]; “The Complete Chacham” Avraham ibn Ya'ish, died in 5314 [1554]; Rabbi Yosef Sarfati, the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel di Medina, “of the Important Readers”, died in 5319 [1559]; Rabbi Elazar Azkari who settled in Safed, author of “Sefer Charedim” and the famous liturgical poem “Yedid Nefesh Av HaRachaman”.

Rabbi Gedalia ben Tam ben David ibn Yichye, “who fulfilled his leadership in Saloniki at the H”C Lisbon”, died in Constantinople and Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Ovadia Alconstantini, the brother-in-law of Rabbi Yosef HaKohen, author of “Emek Habacha”, his home was “a congregating home for sages, a house full of books… the written Torah [scripture] and the oral Torah.”; Rabbi Shmuel ben Rabbi Shlomo Taitachak, one of the signatories to the community regulations, Torah teacher at H”C Etz HaChaim, died in 5232 [1562], and was eulogized by Longo; Rabbi David ben Rabbi Benjamin Halevi Ashkenazi, rabbi at H”C Ashkenaz in his father's position, a signatory to the regulations, died at a young age in about 5233 [1562] and Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Menachem his brother who settled in Constantinople; Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi, the father of Rabbi Shlomo Halevi the Elder, “highly respected… a wise man is preferable to a prophet… sat upon the throne of the kings and ruled what ever his soul desired after his father… a prince among shepherds… and the position sat upon his shoulders”; Chaim ben Rabbi Ya'akov Ovadia known as di Boshal, rabbi at H”C Catalan, of the signatories of the regulations, an author, and eulogized by Longo; Rabbi Shlomo ibn Hasson the Elder, a rival of Rabbi Yosef ibn Lev, of the signatories to the regulations, died after 5319 [1559]; Rabbi Avraham Siralov, Rabbi at H"C” Evora since 5296 [1536], of the signatories to the regulations, wrote responsa and compositions that remained in manuscript, died after 5315 [1555] in Adrianopoli, on his way to Israel, and was buried by his rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Pasi; Rabbi Yisra'el di Curial, a student of Rabbi Yosef Pasi and the rabbi of Longo, moved to the land of Israel; Rabbi Yitzchak ben Eliahu Shani, author of “Meah She'arim” (5303 [1543]); Rabbi Yitzchak Almoshnino, “and the spirit of his wisdom floats”, died in 5326 [1566]; Rabbi Avraham Menachem, a rabbinical judge in 5237 [1567].

In that period there were also: Moshe Altabib, a rabbinical judge mentioned in 5312 [1552]; Don David ibn Altabib of the wealthy sages of the city; Rabbi Yosef Frances, mentioned as a rabbinical judge in 5313 [1553]; Rabbi Moshe Elias, Rabbi Yehuda Garson, Rabbi Shmuel Navarro, Rabbi Sa'adia Nachmias – all four rabbinical judges; Rabbi Shmuel Ezra and Rabbi Ya'akov Arazin mentioned as rabbinical judges in 5219 [1559]; Rabbi Moshe Suri, Rabbi Avraham Saporta, Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Perachia Hakohen, mentioned as rabbinical judges in 5325 [1565]; Rabbi Moshe Soncino, a halachic ruler mentioned in about 5325 [1565]; Rabbi Yoshea Shontzin, the complete “Chacham”, “complete in his studies, complete in his deeds, a sage, hero and wealthy man,” died in 5329 [1569] and Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino eulogized him; Rabbi Moshe ibn Ya'ish, a signatory to the regulations even in 5293 [1533], “Torah teacher in the holy congregation Congregation Major and he would be the one coming and going, first in everything holy”; Rabbi Eliahu Ovadia Torah teacher in H”C Catalan; Rabbi Moshe ben Rabbi Chaim Ovadia, who took his position at H”C Catalan, author, died at Avilona; Rabbi Avraham Bahalul the father of Longo's son-in-law; Rabbi Ya'akov ben Rabbi Shmuel Samot, known as Formon, rabbi at H”C Caena, a signatory to the regulations “and he was taken to the area of the Morea and died there”, after 5333 [1573] and eulogized by Longo; The sage Rabbi Moshe Russo, one fo the opponents of the sage Formon in H”C Caena; Rabbi Ya'akov ben Nachmias, a signatory to the regulations, died in Brosa in about 5327 [1567] on a mission for the “Musilimlik”; Rabbi Moshe Baruch, who also died on the “Musilimlik” mission in about 5327 [1567]; Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Avraham of the house of Chazan, a rabbi from the two congregations Sizilia [Sicily] new and also old… stood guard that no trouble come upon the community from the people who ruled the land”, died in 5331 [1571] and was eulogized by Longo and Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino; Rabbi Yitzchak Badrashi, a signatory to the regulations, a rabbinical judge and head of a yeshiva, “a good number of studious pupils resulted from him”, died in 5330 [1570], eulogized by Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino; in the same year Rabbi Moshe di Boton died “of the respected Jewish families with lineage, as sharp as the rabbis of Pumbedita”, who was eulogized by Rabbi M. Almoshnino; Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Garson, a signatory to the regulations, “sat upon the seat in many congregations and especially in the congregation Polia and there he finished his days”, died after 5334 [1574] and Longo eulogized him; Rabbi Avraham di Boton “of the pupils of our Patriarch Abraham”, at the Polia congregation, died after 5330 [1570]; Rabbi Matatia Natan, rabbi of H”C Ashkenaz, died in 5331 [1571], and was eulogized by Rabbi Shlomo Halevi the Elder.

Rabbi Moshe ibn Vinishti “Ba'al HaAgadot”, died after 5330 [1570]; Rabbi Yehoshua Barzilai, “HaChasid”; Rabbi Daniel Perachia Hakohen, a signatory to the regulations, rabbi of H”C Italia, doctor, sage and engineer, published the second edition of “She'erith Yosef” in 5328 [1568] died in 5335 [1575]; Rabbi Shealtiel Chefetz, “inclusive in wisdom”, and poet; Rabbi Tordos Falcon “in the committee house”, the rabbi of Rabbi David ben Rabbi Avraham Shemaria, who mentions him in his book “Torat Emet” (5364 [1604]); Rabbi Eliahu ben Rabbi Yehuda Uziel, a signatory to the regulations “and of the most excellent readers” died after 5333 [1573]; Rabbi Ya'akov Uziel his brother; Rabbi David Baruch “Hachasid”, head of the yeshiva of H”C Polia; Rabbi Moshe Gedalia author of “The Tradition of the Babylonian Talmud”; Rabbi Yitzchak Franko, mentioned as a rabbinical judge already in 5322 [1562], “owner of the Yeshiva of the Talmud Torah society here in Saloniki… who knew the Talmud by heart”; Rabbi Yitzchak ben Rabbi Moshe ibn Aroyo, student of Rabbi Yosef Taitachak, wrote three books among them “Tanchumot El”, sermons, (5338 [1578]), published “Sever Hagedarim” by Rabbi Menachem ben Rabbi Avraham known as Bonafus of Perpignan with his own preface (5327 [1567]); the complete sage Rabbi Shlomo Yavetz, mentioned in 5331 [1571]; Rabbi Ya'akov Albilda “who speaks in the Talmud Torah society”, Rabbi Moshe Albilda, his son, who “went to teach Torah in Avilona and died there”; Rabbi Moshe Albo who travelled to Sofia and there was appointed as the rabbi of the congregation of the Romaniotes; Rabbi Gedalia ben Moshe ibn Yichye, whose house was a house of meetings for the sages, and the doctor Amatus Lusitanus dedicated his “Seventh Senatoria” to him and called him “an excellent speaker, a wise and genrous man” (according to Amatus Lusitanus, he excelled in having guests, also strangers, without any religious discrimination between them), like his father and father-in-law Shlomo Senior, he supported the poor generously, died in Constantinople; Rabbi Gedalia ben Yosef ibn Yichye, author of “Salshelet Hakabala”; Rabbi Yehuda Abrabanel “one of the great readers”; Rabbi Me'ir ibn Vinishti author of “Ot Emet”, and he proofread many books and manuscripts; Rabbi Yitzchak Navaro, “glory of the sages”; Rabbi Moshe Dassa, a student of Rabbi Levi ben Habib, who later moved to Larso.

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Here is a list of sages and rabbinical judges who were active during the time of Rabbi Yitzchak Adrebi and Rabbi Shmuel di Medina:

The rabbinical judge Yehuda Sarano; Rabbi Shmuel of the house of Kal'ai, one of the heads of the congregations in 5333 [1573]; the rabbinical judges Rabbi Moshe of the house of Kal'ai and Rabbi Moshe Matalon, Rabbi Gedalia Chayun, a ruler, “crowned with a good reputation, glory and respect”; Rabbi Moshe Amram, a rabbinical judge, “a great spring from [H”C] Shalom”; Rabbi David son of our respected Rabbi Avraham Arama, born in 5285 [1525], wrote a commentary on the Maimonides; Rabbi Shmuel Adrebi died in 5344 [1584]; Rabbi Yosef ben Rabbi Yitzchak Yavetz died in 5340 [1580]; Rabbi Ya'akov ben Rabbi Shmuel Taitachak, a signatory to the regulations, Torah teacher in H”C Etz Hachaim; Rabbi Shelomo ibn Gevirol, a student of the Rashda”m, died in 5346 [1586]; Rabbi Shlomo Amarilio, died in 5346 [1586]; Rabbi Yosef ibn Muvchar, from Constantinople, who settled in Saloniki, a sage and wordsmith, died in 5346 [1586]; the rabbinical judges Rabbi Rafael Yosef, Rabbi Shmuel Eliakim, Rabbi Yosef Becher Moshe Sasson, and Rabbi Yehuda Becher Shmuel who were active in 5343 [1583]; Rabbi Avshalom Almoshnino, a signatory to the regulations; Rabbi Avraham and Rabbi Shimon ben Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino; Rabbi Menachem Pijon, a student of Rashda”m; Rabbi Ya'akov and Rabbi Chaim sons of Rabbi Shlomo Matalon, both of them died in 5356 [1592]; Rabbi Shlomo Baruch, a ruler, settled afterwards in Arta; Rabbi Yosef Yichye.

In addition at the time were also: Rabbi Avraham ibn Azuz, called Ben Burgil, and author; Rabbi Yosef Ezra, an author of responsa and a book about taxes called “Masa HaMelech”; the arbiter Rabbi David Nachmias who died in about 5340 [1580]; Rabbi Yitzchak Crispin; Rabbi Aharon Aviov, an arbiter who received the position of a rabbi in Skopije; Rabbi Eliahu the father of Rabbi Yitzchak Barki; Rabbi Eliahu Arbaro and Rabbi Shmuel Yitchak Aripol, who settled in Safed.

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  1. Machzor Ashkenaz, Saloniki, 5310 [1550], Dirges [Kinot] for the Ninth of Av. Return

  2. See Emmanuel, “The Great Ones of Saloniki in their Generation”, no. 13. Return

  3. I know of only two copies of this book which was printed by Don Yehuda Gedalia, one of them at “Hebrew Union College” in Cincinnati, and the other in the Bodleian at Oxford. Return

  4. [See the Treasury of the Jews of Spain, 8, “Epigrams and Poems of Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Me'ir Arama”, of A.M. Haberman]. Return

  5. [See where this is described in the praises of the “Ar”i” in “Sefer Toldot Ha'Ari” {The History of the “Ar”i”}, Me'ir Benayahu edition, Ben Tzvi Institute, Jerusalem, 1967, pp. 212-215]. Return

  6. [See about him in the sayings of Yitzchak Rabbi Molcho in “Sinai”, vol. 8, pp. 245 ff., 1941; and in “Sinai, vol. 10 pp. 198 ff., 1942 (the two articles were reprinted in “Saloniki Evening and Morning”, without attribution). A detailed bibliography of his books was published by Naftali ben Menachem in “Sinai, vol. 19, pp. 268-285, 1946]. Return

  7. Apparently from lack of funds it was published only up to page 72 [the book is divided into four parts: “Shivrei HaLuchot”, “Knesset Gedola”, “Hafech Bachurim”, “Chochmat Nashim” {respectively, “Shards of the Tablets”, “Great Assembly”, “Inflate Young Men”, “Wisdom of Women”}]. Return

  8. [Haberman published several of the poems “Mar'ot Elokim” and “Mar'ot Tzov'ot” of his in Treasury of the Jews of Spain, vol. 8, p. 109. Also see about him and his friends, Yosef Petai, “Misefunei Hashir” {Secrets of Song}, pp. 86, 108-120]. Return

  9. See about them in Emmanuel, “Histoire des Israelites de Salonique”, pp. 192-199. Return

  10. “Seder Zemanim”, p. 55. Return

  11. Among these benefactors according to their generations, the following are known: Rabbi Moshe Shuneina, who donated 20,000 “whites” in 5303 [1543]; Yom Tov Natan, who dedicated a large lot with houses (which were burnt in 5305 [1545], and were rebuilt after the fire); Rabbi Yitzchak Alkabetz from Sidrokapsi, who donated about 8,500 “whites”, before 5343 [1583]; Rabbi Moshe Trojas, also from Sidrokapsi, who donated a pair of silver pomegranates [to decorate the Torah scrolls] worth 4,200 “whites” in 5341 [1581], and another 5,000 in 5343 [1583] (Alkabetz and Trojas were natives of Saloniki); Ya'akov Ashkenazi, an inhabitant of Cavalla, donated 40,000 “whites” in 5344 [1584]; Shmuel Toledano, an inhabitant of Komirjina, donated 10,000 “whites in 5354 [1594]; Netanel Pardo and Yitzchak Jicoril, 3,000 “whites” each, in 5357 [1597]; Yisra'el ibn Shushan from Angora, who left a legacy of 6,000 'whites” in 5359 [1599]; Yitzchak Pasi 200,000 “whites” in 5363 [1603]; Don Shlomo ibn Yichye, donated 5,000 “whites” a year for a number of consecutive years; a widow called Ester donated all of her property under special conditions; Noach Cohen Ashkenazi, from Bodon, donated enough money in 5384 [1624] to build the Talmud Torah which was burned in 5385 [1625]; Baruch Akrish donated 22,000 “whites” in about 5385 [1625]; a woman from Bodon left a legacy of one hundred gold Talers in 5407 [1647]; Ya'akov Beracha and his wife Buena donated shops and houses in 5435 [1675]; the doctor Menachem Amaraji donated valuable shops in the Jewish Market; Avraham Gabai from Izmir, known as “Kaf Nachat”, dedicated printing type before 5464 [1704] and was the cause of the founding of the press mentioned above. Among the benefactors from the last generation were: Yitzchak M. Florentin and his partner Yitzchak Yosef Simcha (the first was the brother-in-law and the second the brother of Rabbi Shmuel Simcha, the supporting pillar of this institution) who bought, with the tithe from the profits of their commercial business, seven valuable shops in the industrial center for a price of 1,250 gold pounds in 1904. It is worth mentioning the “Chacham” and benefactor Chaim Yosef Kovo, known by the name Senior Chaimojo Kovo, who left a quarter of the income of his legacy to this institution in his will. Return

  12. [And in his preface to his commentary on Psalms (Venice, 5309 {1549})]. Return

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