Remos, Moses ben Isaac

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REMOS, MOSES BEN ISAAC (c. 1406–c. 1430), physician, philosopher, and poet. Born in Majorca, he traveled widely, and eventually came to Palermo, where he was condemned to death after having been accused of poisoning a Christian patient. His judges offered to quash the sentence if he would convert (it seems that his grandfather, also named Moses Remos, had done this in Palma, Majorca, in 1391). Remos's reply was laconic: "Better that my body die than my soul. My portion is the Living Rock and the dead shall be His." Thus when only 24 years old he was put to death, his remains being buried outside Palermo, beside the city wall. The few poems which he left are of a philosophical nature, written in a careless, prosaic style.

The only one of his poems in print is an elegy on his forthcoming death: "Who would have thought that a villain's death…." At the beginning of it he wrote: "I lament on this first day of the week, for they have told me that tomorrow they will kill me. Woe unto me! May it be God's Will that my death be the pardon for my sins. Bitterly weeping, without thinking or looking, I have taken my pen and have cried and written. In the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, I conjure the person into whose hands this falls, to read it, copy it, and send it to others until it reaches my unfortunate relatives." This elegy begins by describing a procession of worldly and natural forces, together with the arts which he had mastered during his lifetime, come to bewail the poet's death. In the latter part of the poem, the personal feelings of the author are clearly brought out. He confesses his sins, accepts his fate, and is thus prepared for his last journey.


Steinschneider, in: He-Ḥalutz, 4 (1858–59), 67–70; D. Kahana (ed.), Kinah le-Moshe Remos (1892); Kaufmann, in: Festschrift… Steinschneider (1896), 225–32; Slouschz, in: Centenario… Michele Amari, 2 (1926), 186–204; Chajes, in: zhb, 14 (1910), 168–70; I. Abrahams (ed.), Hebrew Ethical Wills, 2 (1926), 234–48; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 645–7.

[Yonah David]