Rab de la Corte

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RAB DE LA CORTE ("court rabbi"), an office common in Navarre and Castile until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. He was appointed by the crown to supervise the Jewish communal leadership and the apportionment of taxes among the communities. Because of this task he is referred to as repartidor de todas las aljamas and was considered "Judge in Chief " of the Jewish communities. The office was established in these kingdoms during the middle of the 13th century. Attempts to introduce it into Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia, mainly at the end of the 13th century, failed. The beginnings of this office are unknown. As judge in chief, juez mayor ("chief justice"), he served as a kind of a court of appeals for the Jews. Generally those appointed to this position were Jews close to the kings or crown princes, serving as physicians, interpreters, or fiscal agents. The majority were not distinguished for their learning, and Solomon b. Abraham ibn *Adret complained that "in our country there are rabbis appointed by the king who do not know how to read properly." Some, however, were scholars, for instance Abraham *Benveniste. The Rab de la Corte presided over meetings of representatives of the communities who were convened when necessary and supervised the drafting of the askamot ("communal regulations") and the tax apportionment. Sometimes, he acted as arbitrator in intercommunal disputes. The last Rab de la Corte in Castile was Abraham *Seneor, who became converted to Christianity shortly before the expulsion. The office of Arraby *Mor in Portugal largely corresponds to that of Rab de la Corte.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; Neuman, Spain, index; Suárez Fernández, Documentos (1964), 108–9, 162–3, 243–5, 246–7, 297–9, 375–7.