Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rabbi Moshe Almosnino (Greece 1515-1580)

Rabbi Almosnino was born in Salonica (Thessaloniki) in 1515. After the expulsion from Spain thousands of Jews fled to Turkey and Greece. Rabbi Almosnino belonged to a prominent Sephardic family, which fled Aragon after two of his ancestors died on the stake. Salonica was one of the cities where Jews established themselves in Greece. Rabbi Almosnino was the rabbi of the main Spanish Sephardic community "Neveh Shalom".  

Rabbi Almosnino was a prolific author, and the earliest known Ladino writer in the Ottoman Empire 
in 1565 he represented the Jewish communities at an audience with the sultan Selim II, petitioning the confirmation of the civil rights of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire.   

Among his many works one can mentioned 

"Yede moshe"  a commentary on the five megillot: Shir haShrim, Ruth, Ekha (Lamentations) Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and Esther. 

"Pirqe Moshe"  an exposition of the treatise Pirqe Abot  Chapters of the fathers (Salonica 1563).  

"Tefila leMoshe" a book on the praises and wonders of the Tora. Based on the Psalms. 

Rabbi Almosnino had great interest in sciences and wrote commentaries on Aristotle's Physics and on Sphaera mundi by John Sacrobosco. He translated and commented on Georg Peuerbach's Teoriae novae planetarum. He also wrote an exposition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and a commentary on al-Ghazali's work.

He wrote some books in Ladino (Judeo Spanish) and in Spanish 

"Regimiento de la Vida: (the rules of life) dedicated to his son Shim'on (Salonica 1564). It is a guide to the moral conduct meant for rather educated young men not fluent in Hebrew.  It deals   among other things with the nature of good and evil, Divine providence vis-a-vis free will, the importance of education, etc. To this book was appended a chapter called: "El Tratado de los suenyos" (A treatise on Dreams). 

"Extremos y Grandezas de Constantinopla", originally written in ladino was transliterated and republished by Jacob Cansino in Madrid, 1638. In this extraordinary book he describes the life in Constantinople. Its weather, its inhabitants, the life in the city, etc.   
It is the earliest known book written in Ladino.

Read Rabbi Almosnino's Books

You can find the Hebrew books of Rabbi Moshe Almosnino in  www.hebrewbooks. org

For "Regimiento de la vida" (ancient Spanish) click  here .  

For "Extremos y grandezas de Constantinopla" (Spanish) click  here.