Almosnino, Joseph ben Isaac

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ALMOSNINO, JOSEPH BEN ISAAC

ALMOSNINO, JOSEPH BEN ISAAC (1642–1689), rabbi, halakhic authority, and kabbalist. Almosnino was apparently born in Salonika, and studied under Hananiah Taitaẓak. He went to Jerusalem to study in Jacob Ḥagiz's bet ha-midrash, Bet Ya'akov, where he probably made the acquaintance of *Nathan of Gaza. About 1666 Almosnino was appointed a rabbi in Belgrade where he married the daughter of the rabbi of that city, Simḥah ha-Kohen, whom he succeeded c. 1668. He was won over to Shabbateanism and transcribed the writings of Nathan of Gaza which were sent to his community (Oxford Ms. no. 1777). The community suffered two serious blows during Almosnino's tenure of office: a great fire in which his library and part of his writings were burnt and, in 1688, the fall of Belgrade to the Turks, as a result of which the community was destroyed. Most of the Jews escaped, but some were taken captive. Almosnino afterward traveled to the German communities where he succeeded in raising funds to ransom the captives and reconstruct the community. He died in Nikolsburg, while on this mission.

Many communities turned to Almosnino with their problems. Moses *Ibn Ḥabib corresponded with him on halakhic matters and wrote an approbation to his responsa. Almosnino also corresponded with Ẓevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi. Many emissaries from Ereẓ Israel visited him, including Moses *Galante. Those of Almosnino's works which escaped the Belgrade conflagration were preserved by chance. They were sold to Arab dealers from whom they were acquired by a Jew. Two volumes of his responsa were published posthumously by his sons Simḥah and Isaac under the title Edut bi-Yhosef (Constantinople, 1711, 1713). Several of Almosnino's poems, though never published, are extant in the manuscripts of contemporary Turkish poets (Jewish Theological Seminary, Ms. no. 60, 353; Adler 358; Guenzburg 196). He wrote an autobiographical sketch that appears in the introduction to Edut bi-Yhosef.

bibliography:

Rosanes, Togarmah, 4 (1935), 26 ff.; Scholem, Shabbetai Ẓevi, 1 (1957), 189; 2 (1957), 535, 790; Attias, in: Minḥah le-Avraham… Elmaleḥ (1959), 135 ff.