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1470 - 1541 (23 Sivan 5301) JACOB POLLACK (Prague-Cracow-Eretz Israel)

The first important Polish-Jewish Rabbinic scholar. He helped establish the talmudic method of study called Pilpul. This complicated and often hair-splitting method of explanation originated in southern Germany. It is called mental acrobatics by some, yet it was also responsible for the development of the sharp talmudic mind.

C. 1470 - 1540 Fernão de Loronha aka FERNANDO DE NORONHA (Portugal- Brazil)

Converso Explorer and Merchant. He arrived in 1503 in Brazil with six ships and a charter allowing his exculsive right exporting brazilwood. Many of his passengers were “New Christians”. De Loronha was instrumental in settling Brazil and even is thought to behind creating the name which had been formally Santa Cruz. The islands of Fernando de Noronha are named after him.

C. 1470 - C. 1550 OBADIAH BEN JACOB SFORNO (Italy)

Biblical commentator and physician. He is mostly known for his commentary of the Pentateuch, as well as Song of Songs and ecclesiastics psalms etc. Sforno had a decidedly humanistic approach, which he combined with an understanding of the literal meaning of the text. He wrote a book on philosophy Ohr Amim (Light of the Nations) which he translated himself into Latin (Lumen Gentium,) . Other works included a translation on Euclid's eight books and Diḳduḳ Leshon 'Ivri, on Hebrew grammar.

1470 September, VALLIDOLID (Spain)

Conversos were attacked by a mob believing that under Isabella's reign, anti-Jewish riots would be legalized. Don Henry IV of Castile interceded and much damage was averted.


Abraham Farrisol proposed in his prayer book for women, to change the morning prayer from "that you made me according to your will" found in the Arba Turim (1270) -"that you made me a woman and not a man." Unfortunately his proposal was not embraced.

1473 March 14, CORDOVA (Spain)

First massacre of New Christians (Marranos or Conversos). This was partly due to the populace's jealousy of the New Christians holding many important positions in the court and society. After the massacre, a decree was issued prohibiting them from living in Cordova. This process of jealousy, accusations, massacre and decree led to the accusations of heresy and, finally, to the Inquisition.

C. 1474 - 1546 (30 Nissan 5306) JACOB BERAB (Beirav) (Morocco)

Rabbi and Halachic Leader. Berab became Rabbi of Fez at the age of 18 and was considered one of the most influential halachic leaders of North Africa, Syria and Eretz Israel. Berab, under the messianic influence of the era, was a strong proponent of reviving the official Semichah program which would then lead to the forming of a new Sanhedrin (a combination of a supreme court and ruling body)(see 1538). It would have been the first since the destruction of the second temple. However it was never instituted, due to differences with other rabbis and his having to leave Eretz Israel.

1474 May 16, SEGOVIA (Spain)

Minister Pacheco used an attack he organized against "New Christians" as a diversion in an attempt to capture the citadel of Segovia (and perhaps the King). Although the plot was discovered in time, the Conversos were attacked anyway by an organized mob. Men, woman and children were murdered.

1474 December, DON HENRY IV (Castile, Spain)

Don Henry IV died, and with his death fell the last barrier to the full persecution of the Jews. His half sister, Isabella, ascended the throne of Castile. Within five years her consort Ferdinand succeeded his father, John II of Aragon, thereby uniting most of Christian Spain.

C. 1475 - 1554 BENVENIDA ABRAVANEL (Naples -Ferrara)

International business women, banker , and philanthropist. Daughter of Jacob (d.1528), and niece of Isaac Abravanel (see 1437). She married his son Samuel (1473-1551), a scholar in his own right and financier to Don Pedro de Toledo. Bevenida helped raise the daughter of Don Pedro, Leonora (15221562), which later proved a useful connection. When Donna Gracia ( see 1510) proposed the boycott of Ancona for their anti Jewish policies, Abravanel, who had extensive ties at the port, refused. She was also supportive of the controversial David Reuveni (see 1523. Benvenida together with her husband were active in financing Jewish scholarship, redeeming Jewish captives and using their connections to defend other Jews.

C. 1475 - 1542 JACOB BEN DAVID TAM IBN YAHYA ( Portugal-Ottoman empire)

Talmudic scholar, physician and authority on Islamic law. Ibn Yahya was appointed chief Rabbi of Constantinople and also served as a physician to Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 15201566). A productive writer, all of his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. He died a year later. After his death, 213 of his extant responsa were collected under the title Ohale Tam (The Tents of the Pure).

1475 February 18, (10 Adar 5235) FIRST DATED COMPLETE HEBREW BOOK (Reggio DernCalabria, Italy)rn

Rashi's commentaries (without the Bible) was printed by Abraham ben Garton. It is believed that the first printed books in Hebrew began a few years earlier.rn

1475 March 23, SIMON OF TRENT (Italy)

One of the more notorious blood libels. A Franciscan monk, Bernardinus of Feltre, came to Trent and began preaching Lent sermons against the Jews. A week before Easter a boy by the name of Simon drowned in the river Adige. The monk charged the Jews with using the body for its blood. The body washed up a few days later near the house of a Jew who brought it to the Bishop Honderbach. 17 Jews were tortured for over two weeks. Some confessed while being tortured and 6 Jews were burned. Two more were strangled. A temporary hiatus was called by Pope Sixtus IV, but after five years the trial was reopened and 5 more Jews were executed. The papal inquest agreed with the trial, Simon was beatified, and all Jews were expelled for 300 years. The trial served as the basis for anti-Semitic writings for hundreds of years. Only in 1965 was Simon debeatified.

1475 July 3, MESHULLAM CUSI (Italy)

Established the first Hebrew press in Italy at Piove di Sacco near Padua and printed Jacob b. Asher's Arbah Turim. The same year he also printed a Slichot (prayers for the Days of Repentance).

1476 SPAIN

The first Jewish book printed in Spain is the Pentateuch with Rashi's commentaries (showing the importance of Rashi's work).


Ferdinand and Isabella abolished the Jewish aljamas (the self governing Jewish communities) and reaffirmed the anti Jewish edicts of 1380 and 1412 including segregation of Jews and Moslems from the Christian community.

1476 July 24, 1476 BIBLE CODEX LA COURUNA (Spain)

Also knows as the Kennicott bible was completed by Moses ibn Zabara and illustrated by Joseph ibn Chayim. Its rarity lies not only in its early date but the unusual illustrations, which along with animal and floral decorations also include four figures, David, Pinchas, Balam and Jonah.Of the 922 pages 238 are illustrated. It was eventually named after Benjamin Kennicott an 18th century English churchman and Hebrew scholar who acquired the book for Oxford.

1478 November 1, POPE SIXTUS IV (Spain)

At the request of King Ferdinand V ( aka Ferdinand II of Aragon) and Queen Isabella, he issued a Bull Exigit sincer devotioni s empowering them to establish to investigate charges of heresy known as the Spanish Inquisition. Unlike the papal inquisition of 1230, this one was totally under royal authority. This tribunal was established ostensibly to root out "backsliding Jews who had converted, sometimes under duress, to Christianity. Often these Jews - known as New Christians or conversos - succeeded in obtaining high social and political positions which aroused the jealousy on the part of old Christians. Thus, although officially religious in nature, the inquisition was a political tool. Specific signs such as no fires on the Sabbath, no eating of pork, washing hands before eating, turning the face towards the wall when dying, etc., were given to root out those who may have continued to secretly practice Judaism. The Spanish inquisition- which spread to all Spanish and later Portuguese (1536) colonies and possessions - was finally disbanded on July 15, 1834. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were tried (not all for Judaizing) and 30,000 executed.

C. 1479 - 1589 DAVID BEN SOLOMON IBN ABI ZIMRA (RaDbaz) (Spain- Eretz-Israel))

Rabbinical leader, Talmudist, and Kabbalist. He served as chief Rabbi of Egypt for 40 years. A productive writer he authored more than 3,000 responsa (halakhic decisions). Among his many works are Metzudat David ("The Tower of David"), Dinei Rabba ve-Zutra ("The Great and Small Decisions") and Divrei David ("Words of David"), Shivim Panim la-Torah ("Seventy Faces to the Torah")

1479 - 1516 FERDINAND AND ISABELLA (Spain)

Ruled a unified Spain. Isabella was the heiress to the crown of Castile, and Ferdinand heir to the crown of Aragon. Five years after their marriage - which ironically is credited to Jewish and Converso courtiers - they began to reign in Castile, and five years later (1479), over both realms. Both of them, desiring the support of the Church, determined that Spain should be unified under one religion. Isabella and Ferdinand's desire to "protect" the Converso's from Jewish influence, and their belief that the Jews were no longer of major economic importance, led to the final expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

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