Menahem Ẓiyyoni

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MENAHEM ẒIYYONI (late 14th–early 15th century), kabbalist and exegete who lived in Cologne, where he signed a document in 1382, probably as rabbi of the community. His father was R. Meir Ẓiyyoni. Nothing else definite is known about his life, his career, or his teachers. He is known only through his major work, Ẓiyyoni, a homiletical commentary on the Torah (first printed in Cremona in 1559 and again there in the following year after the first impression had been destroyed by fire), and by the treatise Ẓefunei Ẓiyyoni (partly preserved in Ms.), one of the major early kabbalistic books dealing in detail with the powers of evil and demonology. Menahem Ẓiyyoni was one of the few kabbalists in 14th-century Germany, and his work demonstrates that he was heir to two different esoteric traditions: the Spanish Kabbalah, including the Zohar, the Sefer ha-Bahir, and the exegetical works of Naḥmanides; and the esoteric theology of the 12th–13th-century movement of the Ḥasidei Ashkenaz. He quotes frequently from Eleazar b. Judah of Worm's Sodei Razayya, referring to him as "ish sodi" ("my esoteric authority"). These two traditions are also reflected in his subject matter: the customary kabbalistic questions on the emanation of the Sefirot alongside the Ashkenazi-ḥasidic conception of the Kavod ("divine glory") and its relationship to the prophets. He composed a kinah for the Ninth of Av which was incorporated in the Ashkenazi liturgy.


Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 435; A. Kober, Cologne (1940), 358; Y. Dan, Torat ha-Sod shel Ḥasidut Ashkenaz (1968), 259f.

[Joseph Dan]