Skip to main content

Leon, Messer David ben Judah

LEON, MESSER DAVID BEN JUDAH

LEON, MESSER DAVID BEN JUDAH (1470/72?–1526?), rabbi and religious philosopher. Born in Mantua, Italy, Leon studied in his father's yeshivah in Naples, where he was ordained at the age of 18 by French and German rabbis. He then went to the yeshivah of Judah Minz in Padua. In 1494 he was living in Florence, about 1505 moved to Salonika, and about 1512 was appointed rabbi of Valona, Albania. In this town there were many disputes between the various communities because of the desire of the exiles from Spain and Portugal to impose their customs on the existing communities. He became involved in these disputes, and in one of them excommunicated his opponent, Meir ibn Verga. On the night of the Day of Atonement, during a fierce quarrel between the various communities, he was insulted and banned two scholars among the heads of the community who opposed him. His ruling, which attempted to justify his action and prove that the ban was legally in force, was published under the title Kevod Ḥakhamim (ed. by S. Bernfeld, 1899). There is, however, a conjecture that a great part of this work was taken from the responsa of Joseph *Colon (Venice, 1519, ed. no. 170). As a result of these disputes, he returned to Salonika where he died.

Leon combined vast erudition in Jewish subjects with a comprehensive knowledge of general culture, particularly in philosophy. In the study of Torah he preferred the method of the rabbis of Germany and France to the methods of the rabbis of Spain. An admirer of Maimonides, Leon, in those of his works that have remained unpublished, Magen David (dealing with the problem of the nature of the *Sefirot and compiled apparently before 1506) and Ein ha-Kore (a commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed), defended Maimonides' philosophical method and attempted to answer the complaints of his critics. He was opposed to Levi b. Gershom and Isaac Abrabanel, mainly because their views differed from those of Maimonides. His combination of general culture with values originating from Jewish religion and culture is reflected in his query to Jacob b. David *Provençal "on the view of the sages of the Talmud in the study of the natural sciences, logic, philosophy, and medicine." The reply (published in the collection Divrei Ḥakhamim (1849), 63–74, of Eliezer Ashkenazi), that "each one of the seven sciences is praiseworthy and valued in the eyes of our sages," addressed him as one who would produce "fruit from the tree, but not forsake the root in order to take hold of the husk." Apparently Leon also engaged in Kabbalah. He stated that although his father refused to allow him to engage in it "because of his tender age," he studied Kabbalah in secret. Among his other works worthy of mention are Tehillah le-David (Constantinople, 1577), on religious philosophy, published by his grandson Aaron Leon; Sod ha-Gemul; and his rulings and responsa, and letters and poems (some also in Latin) – most of which are still in manuscript.

bibliography:

L. Zunz, Kerem Ḥemed, 5 (1841), 139; Michael, Or, no. 727; J. Schechter, in: rej, 24 (1892), 118–38; M. Steinschneider, in: mgwj, 42 (1898), 263; idem, in: Festschrift … A. Berliner (1903), 353; idem, Gesammelte Schriften, 1 (1925), 219f.; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (19302), 79, 85–88, 110–3; Assaf, Mekorot, 2 (1931), 99–101; G. Scholem, in: KS, 9 (1932–33), 258; D. Tamar, ibid., 26 (1949/50), 96–100.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Leon, Messer David ben Judah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Leon, Messer David ben Judah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/leon-messer-david-ben-judah

"Leon, Messer David ben Judah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/leon-messer-david-ben-judah

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.