Jonathan ben Joseph of Ruzhany

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JONATHAN BEN JOSEPH OF RUZHANY

JONATHAN BEN JOSEPH OF RUZHANY (late 17th–early 18th century), talmudist and astronomer. Jonathan was born in Ruzhany (Grodno province) and in his youth acquired an extensive knowledge of mathematics and astronomy in addition to that of Talmud. When a plague broke out in his native town in 1710, he vowed that, should he be spared, he would spread the knowledge of astronomy among Jews. In fulfillment of this vow, he proceeded to Germany, although already blind, and finally settled in Frankfurt. There he wrote Yeshu'ah be-Yisrael, a commentary on Kiddush ha-Ḥodesh (the laws concerning the blessing of the New Moon) of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (Frankfurt, 1720). He also wrote a commentary on *Abraham b. Ḥiyya's astronomical work Ẓurat ha-Areẓ, and glosses to the translation of Sacroboscos' Sphaera Mundi (entitled Marehha-Ofannim or Asferah ha-Gadol by its translator Solomon b. Abraham Avigdor) and to another Hebrew translation of the same work, entitled Sefer ha-Galgal. These three works were published by Jonathan with his own commentaries, and others by Perez Nasi, Mordecai b. Abraham *Jaffe, Mattathias b. Solomon *Delacrut, and Shemariah Manoah Hahndel (Offenbach, 1720). In 1725 Jonathan made the acquaintance of the Christian bibliographer and Hebraist, Johann Christoph *Wolf, in Hamburg.

bibliography:

Fuenn, Keneset, 428f.; Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 644, 646.

[Moshe Nahum Zobel]

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