views updated


SILANO (ninth century), one of the first Jewish liturgical poets in Italy. Silano is said by *Ahimaaz, in his Sefer Yuḥasin (= Megillat Aḥima'aẓ), to have been one of the scholars of Venosa in southern Italy. Once an emissary of the Jerusalem yeshivah arrived in Venosa, and, as was the custom there, he was invited to preach on the Sabbath. Silano translated the sermon into the vernacular from a written copy prepared by the emissary. On reading the translation the emissary was greatly distressed by Silano's introduction into the text of facetious remarks about the townspeople. After the emissary returned to Ereẓ Israel and related what had happened, the scholars of the Jerusalem yeshivah excommunicated Silano. When the aged Ahimaaz went to Jerusalem he was invited by the scholars of the yeshivah to act as reader during the Ten Days of Penitence. Among the seliḥot he read was one composed by Silano, "Aloh ve-khaḥesh u-reẓo'ah ve-naḥesh ("Cursing and lying and murder and sorcery"), in which the heretics (i.e., the Karaites), who had begun to increase in number during the ninth century, were vigorously attacked. This seliḥah made a strong impression on the scholars, who, when they learned the author's identity, decided to revoke the excommunication immediately. Another of Silano's seliḥot, one for the eve of Rosh Ha-Shanah, beginning Enkat mesalledekha ta'al lifnei khisse khevodekha ("The cry of those who praise Thee, to Thy throne shall rise"), was published in Lithuanian books of seliḥot. The German maḥzor inserted the first stanza of this seliḥah (Enkat mesalledekha…), together with fragments of other piyyutim, into the Ne'ilah prayer for the Day of Atonement. Silano's compositions confirm the assumption that the paytanim of Italy were influenced by those of Ereẓ Israel, since his style closely resembles that of Eleazar *Kallir, one of the early paytanim of Ereẓ Israel.


Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 455; J. Marcus, in: paajr, 5 (1934), 85–93; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), 117; B. Klar (ed.), Megillat Aḥima'az (1944), 18f., 67, 153, 161; S. Abramson, in: Sinai, 56 (1965), 238f.

[Abraham David]