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Briel, Judah ben Eliezer


BRIEL, JUDAH BEN ELIEZER (1643–1722), exegete, halakhic authority, and polemicist. Appointed a member of the bet din of Mantua, Briel succeeded Moses Zacuto (d. 1697) as the rabbi of that community, a position he occupied until his death. Among his pupils was Isaac *Lampronti. In the controversy connected with the banning of the writings of the Shabbatean Nehemiah *Ḥayon, Briel expressed his vehement opposition to Ḥayon in polemical letters. Briel's antipathy to Kabbalah stemmed from his hostility to the Shabbatean movement. Stimulated by the contemporary polemics between Judaism and Christianity and the appearance of numerous antisemitic writings, Briel wrote works against Christianity in Italian and Hebrew. Most are still in manuscript. They include (1) Discorso Apologetico (in defense of Manasseh Ben Israel against the attacks of the priest Vincenzo of Ragusa); (2) Riposta alla Synagoga disingannata dal padre Pinamonti; (3) Animadversiones in evangelia (a criticism of the New Testament). Of his many other works only Kelalei ha-Dikduk ("The Rules of [Hebrew] Grammar," Mantua, 1729) has been published. Those still in manuscript include his responsa and his commentary on the Prophets and the Hagiographa. He also wrote occasional poems, such as a sonnet in honor of Isaac Cardoso, and translated the letters of Seneca from Latin into Hebrew.


Kerem Ḥemed, 2 (1836), 115, 119; Ghirondi-Neppi, 127–9; Oẓar Neḥmad (1860), 168; Oẓar Tov, 1 (1878), 84; Stein-schneider, in: mgwj, 44 (1900), 88–89; Rosenthal, in: Aresheth, 2 (1960), 158, 166; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 1 (1963), 332, n. 427; Graetz, Gesch, 10 (18973), 297, 329, 502ff.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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