Basilea, Solomon Aviad Sar-Shalom

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BASILEA, SOLOMON AVIAD SAR-SHALOM (c. 1680–1749), rabbi and kabbalist in Mantua, Italy. Solomon received instruction from the most learned scholars in the city, including his father, Menahem Samson Basilea, Judah b. Eliezer *Briel (Bariel), Moses *Zacuto, and *Benjamin b. Eliezer Ha-Kohen Vitale of Reggio. He also studied geometry and astronomy. Solomon became rabbi of Mantua in 1729. At the age of 44 he began a methodical study of Kabbalah according to the system of Isaac *Luria. In 1733 he was accused by the Inquisition of having mocked Catholicism and of retaining unexpurgated Hebrew works, and was imprisoned for a year. He was subsequently confined to his house and finally to the ghetto. He courageously supported Moses Ḥayyim *Luzzatto against his accusers in the controversy over the latter's kabbalistic practices. Solomon Basilea's main work Emunat Ḥakhamim (Mantua, 1730) was intended to emphasize the continuity in Jewish tradition of the mystic significance of the Torah and the error of scholars opposing that interpretation. To support his thesis, Solomon reviewed not only the whole of Hebrew literature but also Greek, Arabic, and Renaissance philosophy. Basilea did not believe that the Zohar was written by Simeon b. Yoḥai, but that it nevertheless contained his esoteric doctrines as handed down to his disciples. Basilea also rejected the views which ascribed the authorship of the Zohar to *Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon. The book was very well received by the kabbalists, but opponents of the Kabbalah were critical of it. Jacob *Emden wrote a refutation of the Emunat Ḥakhamim in Mitpaḥat Sefarim, 2 (1768). Some rabbinical decisions of Solomon Basilea are included in the collections of his fellow student Isaac *Lampronti and others. He also wrote on the calendar and a commentary on Euclid's Elements as well as notes on the 1715 edition of Tofteh Arukh by Moses Zacuto. In his collections, he includes the responsa of his father menahem samson ben solomon (d. 1693), rabbi in Alessandria and from 1630 in Mantua. Menahem's responsa also appear in collections of his contemporaries, Moses Zacuto and Nethanel b. Aaron *Segrè.


Ghirondi-Neppi, 36–39; S. Wiener, Mazkeret Rabbanei Italyah (1898), 37–40 (third pagination); Milano, Italia, 667; M. Mortara, Catalogo dei manoscritti ebraici … di Mantova (1878), 45–47; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah (1964), index.

[Attilio Milano]