Anav, Benjamin ben Abraham

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ANAV, BENJAMIN BEN ABRAHAM (c. 1215–c. 1295), Italian scholar and poet. Anav's teachers included the poet Meir b. Moses of Rome, and Joab, Daniel, and Isaac of Camerino. His main interest was in halakhah, but he had a thorough knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, and was among the most esteemed liturgical poets of his age. The bulk of his poetry, which he began writing in 1239, is still in manuscript. The part that has been published reveals him as a poet sensitive to the events of his time and to the suffering of his people, which he mourns in his many seliḥot. The themes of his poetry are historical. Thus, he wrote kinot when the apostate Nicholas *Donin made his onslaught on the Talmud (1239); when the Talmud was burned in Italy (1244); when the scrolls of the Torah were torn and the Jews compelled to wear the *badge of shame on their clothing (1257); and when the Jewish cemetery in Rome was desecrated (1267). Many of his kinot and seliḥot were included in the maḥzor of the Italian rite.

His works include Massa Gei Ḥizzayon – a satire in sprightly rhymed prose on the arrogance of the wealthy and noble which reflects the life of the affluent Jewish families in his city, Rome (Riva di Trento, 1560; repr. 1860, 1967); Perush Alfabetin ("Alphabetical Commentary"), on the Aramaic piyutim for the Feast of Weeks (*Akdamut) – the commentary reveals the poet's knowledge of Italian, Latin, Greek, and Arabic; Sefer Yedidut – a book of legal decisions, which has been lost; Sha'arei Eẓ Ḥayyim – a lyrical composition on morals and good character, in 63 stanzas (Prague, 1598; and in Kobez al Jad (1884), 71–74; the poem was also included in Moses b. Jekuthiel de Rossi's Sefer ha-Tadir); notes on *Rashi's commentary to the Torah; rules on making a calendar; responsa to R. Avigdor b. Elijah Ha-Kohen: a prayer book, which included laws of ritual slaughter, and which has been lost; Sod or Seder ha-Ibbur (on intercalation), written between the years 1276 and 1294, found in various manuscripts of the maḥzor according to the Roman rite; and glosses on the commentary of Solomon b. Shabbetai Anav and on the She'iltot of R. *Aḥa.


Vogelstein-Rieger, 1 (1896), 235–8, 240, 244, 277, 379–82, 452; A. Berliner, Geschichte der Juden in Rom, 1 pt. 2 (1893), 34, 50, 54; Steinschneider, in: hb, 4 (1861), 57 ff.; Halberstamm, in: Kobez al-Jad, 4 (1888), nos. 4, 6, 11, 12, 13; S.D. Luzzatto, Mavo le-Maḥzor ke-Minhag Benei Roma (1856), 22; idem, Iggerot Shadal (1882), 664 ff., 669; idem, in: Oẓar Tov, 3 (1880), 19; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, no. 4544; Guedemann, Geseh Erz, 2 (1884), 201; S. Bernfeld, Sefer ha-Dema'ot, 1 (1924), 263 ff.; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 372; Waxman, Literature, 2 (19602), 74–75.

[Yonah David]

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Anav, Benjamin ben Abraham

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