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Treves, Johanan ben Mattathias


TREVES, JOHANAN BEN MATTATHIAS (d. 1429), French rabbi. Treves was ordained by his father Mattathias b. Joseph. He was a son-in-law of the procurator-general, *Manessier de Vesoul. Treves first served as rabbi to a single French community but on the death of his father in 1385 was appointed chief rabbi of Paris with the consent of Charles vi and served in this office from 1385 to 1394. After some years of tranquility, a distinguished pupil of his father, Isaiah Astruc b. Abba Mari, became his enemy and claimed for himself the sole right of appointing rabbis in France and of conducting a yeshivah. With the help of Meir b. Baruch ha-Levi of Vienna, Isaiah Astruc tried to remove Johanan from his post by proclaiming that all arrangements of the rabbinate not confirmed by him were null and void. Johanan turned for help to the greatest rabbis of Catalonia, Ḥasdai *Crescas and *Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet (the Ribash). These two supported the persecuted rabbi and in their responsa opposed both Isaiah Astruc and Meir b. Baruch. They claimed that Johanan, "besides inheriting his rabbinate from his father with the approval of the monarch in accordance with the wishes of the communities, was also worthy of it on account of his learning and activities" (Resp. Ribash, 270–72). Some justify the intervention of Isaiah Astruc on the grounds of his constructive criticism of the affairs of the French communities and Johanan's inability to halt the religious decline which had taken place. It was Johanan who characterized the attitude of Isaiah Astruc as prompted by a desire to oust him from office. The expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394 ended the quarrel. Johanan went to Italy, where he lived until his death. He achieved great renown among his contemporaries who referred to him as "the greatest in our times," and "the paragon of the generation." His rulings were much referred to by contemporary scholars. From Italy he corresponded with Jacob b. Moses *Moellin (the Maharil). His responsa on the prayers to be said by orphans and a responsum to the Padua community are extant.


Graetz, Gesch, 8 (n.d.), 4, 35f., 70 n.2; Bruell, Jahrbuecher, 1 (1874), 95–99; Guedemann, Gesch Erz, 1 (1880), 247–9; Gross, Gal Jud, 508, 534; Weiss, Dor, 5 (19044), 147, 164–7, 239 n. 1; I. Lévi, in: rej, 39 (1899), 85–94; G. Lauer, in: jjlg, 16 (1924), 1–42; A.M. Hershman, Rabbi Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet and his Time (1943), 203–13; S. Schwarzfuchs, Etudes sur l'Origine et le Développement du Rabbinat au Moyen Age (1957), 38–75.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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