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Bruna, Israel ben Hayyim


BRUNA, ISRAEL BEN ḤAYYIM (c. 1400–1480), German rabbi and communal leader. He studied under David of Schweidnitz, and later Jacob Weil, Israel Isserlein, and Zalman Cohen of Nuremberg. His first rabbinical post was in Bruenn, his native city. When R. Goddel of Orenburg arrived there sometime later, and began to exercise rabbinical functions, Bruna lodged a complaint before Isserlein who advised him to resign himself to Goddel's presence. By 1446 he was in Regensburg, where he opened a yeshivah and served as rabbi to his followers, thereby arousing the hostility of a well-known local rabbi, Anshel Segal, who also headed a yeshivah. Despite the decisions of Jacob Weil and Israel Isserlein (Isserlein, pesak 128), upholding Bruna's right to work and teach in Regensburg, his rival's supporters made him endure great indignity, which ceased only with R. Anshel's death, at which time Bruna became the acknowledged leader of the community and av betdin. After the death of Weil and Isserlein, he was recognized as the halakhic authority of Germany, and his opinion in communal and rabbinical matters was widely sought. In 1456 Bruna was imprisoned for 13 days, apparently to spur the collection of a "coronation tax" imposed on the Jews of his city by the emperor Frederick iii. In 1474 he was imprisoned again, this time the victim of a blood libel; an apostate, Hans Vayol, accused him of buying a Christian youth and killing him to make use of his blood. The Church demanded his death, but the community secured the intervention of Frederick iii and Ladislav ii, king of Bohemia, which led to Vayol's confession and subsequent execution. Bruna was freed only after formally renouncing all claim to compensation for the injustice done to him. His son was dayyan in Prague. Bruna's responsa, which provide valuable information on the German Jewish scene of his time, were collected and published posthumously (Salonika, 1788) with many printing errors, again in 1860, with even more errors, and a third edition was published in 1960.


Berliner, in: mgwj, 18 (1869), 317–8, no. 29; J. Freimann (ed.), Leket Yosher (1904), xxxix–xl (preface), no. 82; S.A. Horodezky, Le-Korot ha-Rabbanut (1911), 37–44; Zimmels, in: mgwj, 74 (1930), 57, no. 7; B. Suler, in: jggjČ, 9 (1938), 101–70; M. Frank, Kehillot Ashkenaz u-Vattei Dineihen (1938), index; R. Straus, Regensburg and Augsburg (1939), 67–69; S. Eidelberg, Jewish Life in Austria in the 15 th Century (1962), index.

[Isaac Ze'ev Kahane]

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