Almosnino, Moses ben Baruch

views updated


ALMOSNINO, MOSES BEN BARUCH (c. 1515–c. 1580), Salonika rabbi, scholar, and preacher. His numerous publications show his extensive knowledge of science, philosophy, history, and rhetoric. His rabbinic scholarship was widely respected. Although his responsa were never published in collected form, authorities such as Samuel de *Medina, Ḥayyim *Benveniste, Isaac *Adarbi, and Jacob di *Boton included some of them in their works. A gifted orator, he served in succession as preacher to the Salonika congregations Neveh Shalom and later the Livyat Ḥen, founded by Gracia *Nasi. A selection of his sermons, in Hebrew, is printed in his Me'ammeẓ Ko'aḥ (1582). In 1565 Almosnino was chosen as member of a delegation to Sultan Selim ii to procure the confirmation of the privileges and exemptions granted by Suleiman the Magnificent to the Salonika community in 1537. The document had been destroyed in the great fire of 1545 and the local authorities again began to place crushing burdens on the community. The two other members of the delegation died en route. Almosnino, with the help of Joseph *Nasi, succeeded, after much heartbreaking effort, in obtaining a favorable decision (1568), and the Salonika community was given the status of a self-governing entity, which it enjoyed for many centuries. Almosnino's works in Hebrew include commentaries on the Five Scrolls (Yedei Moshe, 1582), a supercommentary on Abraham Ibn Ezra; a commentary on Avot (Pirkei Moshe, 1562); and comments on the Pentateuch and prayer book (Tefillah le-Moshe, 1563). While in Constantinople, Almosnino compiled in Ladino a description of Constantinople, published, with some rearrangement and omissions, in Spanish by Jacob *Cansino of Oran under the title Extremos y Grandezas de Constantinopla. It is one of the rarest works of Spanish Jewish literature and an important historical source. He published, also in Ladino, an ethical work, Il Regimiento dela Vida (Salonika, 1564; reprinted in Latin characters, Amsterdam, 1729), which enjoyed considerable popularity in its time. Appended to it is a lengthy treatise on dreams, "composed at the request of the most illustrious señor, Don Joseph Nasi" and giving a graphic description of the latter's luxurious way of life. He also published an exposition of Aristotle's Ethics and notes to Al-Ghazali.


Kayserling, Bibl, 10–11; Molcho, in: Sinai, 6 (1942), 198–209; Ben Menahem, ibid., 19 (1946), 136–171; C. Roth, The Duke of Naxos (1948), 165 ff.

[Abraham Hirsch Rabinowitz]