Skip to main content

Balbo, Michael ben Shabbetai Cohen


BALBO, MICHAEL BEN SHABBETAI COHEN (1411–after 1484), rabbi and poet in Candia (Crete). Although Candia was his permanent home, he is occasionally mentioned in nearby Canea and three sermons which he preached there in 1471, 1475, and 1477, are extant (Vatican Ms. 305). He functioned as condostablo, the leader of the Jewish community of Candia. Moses *Capsali in a responsum of 1458 refers to him as one of the communal leaders. Balbo's signature is found on many ordinances enacted in Candia between the years 1468 and 1479. He wrote letters and poems to many contemporary scholars, one poem dealing with the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. In this lament on the fall of Constantinople, he associated the fate of the Jews with that of the defeated Greek-Orthodox. Balbo took issue with scholars on various topics; in his polemic against Moses Ashkenazi (who was known by the curious name of Esrim ve-Arba – "Twenty-Four") he vigorously attacked Ashkenazi for his rejection of the doctrine of metempsychosis. Balbo also wrote on behalf of the Candia community on such topical subjects as the ransoming of captives and agunot. These writings are valuable material for the history of his time. In a colophon at the end of a manuscript of the Sefer Mitzvot Katan, which he copied, he refers to the deaths of his son Isaiah and of Isaiah's son Michael in 1484.


Freimann in: Zion, 1 (1936), 185–207; E.S. Artom and M.D. Cassuto (eds.), Takkanot Kandyah, 1 (1943), index; Urbach, in: KS, 34 (1958/59), 101; Malachi, in: KS, 41 (1965/66), 392f. add. bibliography: N. Stavroulakis, The Jews of Greece, An Essay (1990) 32; Z. Malachi, "The Balbo Family – Scholars of Hebrew Literature in Candia (15th Century)," in: Michael, 7:255–70.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balbo, Michael ben Shabbetai Cohen." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 26 Jun. 2019 <>.

"Balbo, Michael ben Shabbetai Cohen." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (June 26, 2019).

"Balbo, Michael ben Shabbetai Cohen." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved June 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.