Dienna, Azriel ben Solomon

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DIENNA, AZRIEL BEN SOLOMON (d. 1536), Italian rabbi and halakhic authority. Dienna, who came from a French family that had settled in Italy, studied under R. Nethanel Trabot. In his youth he was a teacher in Reggio and later moved to Pavia where he remained for 15 years. For a time, he also lived in Piedmont. In 1517, or possibly earlier, he became rabbi of Sabbioneta where he served until his death. He corresponded in halakhah with the great scholars of his generation. His works, which are still in manuscript, include a volume of responsa, several of which have been published in various periodicals. Many of them constitute a valuable source for the history, customs, and culture of the Jews of Italy, and they also demonstrate his strong personality and stormy temperament. He was sharp and sarcastic when replying to his opponents and took an active part in the communal disputes. He was involved in 1519 in the storm occasioned in the *Norsa-Finzi controversy, coming out in defense of Abraham Mintz. His responsum on this affair was published in Pesak ha-Ḥerem shel ha-Rav Ya'akov Pollack, appended to Da'at Kedoshim (1897–98) by I.T. Eisenstadt and S. Wiener.

In the scandal which arose in 1530–32 among his contemporaries over the dismissal of *Benjamin Ze'ev of Arta, Dienna supported those who expelled and excommunicated him. In 1532–36 he was the main instigator of the expulsion of Joseph of Arles from the Ḥaverut (a high grade of the Italian rabbinate) as well as from the rabbinate, pointing out that the latter's conduct did not conform with his rabbinical status. In his letter to Abraham ha-Kohen of Bologna in 1531 or 1535, Dienna dissociated himself from David *Reuveni who was greatly honored in many Italian communities, yet he expressed favorable sentiments about the false messiah Solomon *Molcho. Azriel's sons – Jacob, David, Samson, and Menahem – allserved in the Italian rabbinate.


Kaufmann, in: rej, 30 (1895), 304–9; Loewenstein, ibid., 31 (1895), 120–3; I. Sonne, in: mgwj, 75 (1931), 127–9, 132–4; idem, in: rej, 94 (1933), 197, 201–6; S. Assaf, in: ks, 15 (1938/39), 113–29; A.Z. Aešcoly, Sippur David Re'uveni (1940), index; A. (A.H.) Freimann, Seder Kiddushim ve-Nissu'in (1945), 132–3, 135–7; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 2 (1965), 515; E. Kupfer, in: ks, 41 (1965/66), 117–30.

[Abraham David]