Bassani, Mordecai

views updated


BASSANI, MORDECAI (Marco in Italian; the name Hezekiah was added on the occasion of his last illness, c. 1632–1703), Italian rabbi and polemicist. In 1666 he became preacher to the Ashkenazi community of Verona, and in 1680 he became its rabbi; in 1695 he was appointed rabbi of the entire Verona community. He was the author of Sefer Bikkurim (Venice, 1710) containing deathbed prayers and usages (adapted from Ma'avar Yabbok of *Aaron Berechiah ben Moses of Modena, and Shenei Luḥot Ha-Berit of Isaiah *Horowitz) written for the Bikkur Ḥolim fraternity of Verona, but later widely adopted. His treatise on divorce, entitled Mikhtav le-Ḥizkiyyah, and one on ḥaliẓah, entitled Ma'amar Mordekhai, were included by his great-grandson Menahem Navarra in his Penei Yiẓḥak (Verona, 1743). In his will he mentions a collection of "moral sermons" which he had compiled (Avnei Binyan, 1 (1938), 65). He was friendly with the Roman Catholic polemicist Fra Luigi Maria Benetelli. His criticisms of Benetelli's polemical work, Le saette di Gionata… (Venice, 1703) together with those of Samson *Morpurgo and Abraham Joel *Conegliano prompted Benetelli's rejoinder, I dardi rabbinici infranti… (Venice, 1705). In this work Benetelli speaks in the highest terms of the gentle manner, great charity, and admirable character of Bassani. Bassani is also the author of a lengthy responsum on the relationship between the Ashkenazi community of Verona and the smaller Sephardi community there.


S. Baron, in: Sefer… S. Krauss (1936), 217–54; Sonne, in: Zion, 3 (1938), 123ff.; Simonsohn, in: KS, 35 (1959), 127 n. 1; 253 n. 109; C. Roth, Gleanings… (1967), 203, 206–7, 213.

[Cecil Roth]