Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jordan S. Penkower: A Note Regarding R. Menahem de Lonzano

A Note Regarding R. Menahem de Lonzano
by Jordan S. Penkower

I would like to call attention to the following points in reference to R. Menahem de Lonzano, as mentioned in Koreh HaDorot by R. David Conforte.


(1) In his recent post on TSB, Eliezer Brodt, in his review of the new edition of Conforte's Koreh HaDorot (2008), made the following statement (in the second paragraph):


R. Conforte was born in Salonika around 1617 and died sometime after 1678. Throughout his life he traveled to many places (including Eretz Yisroel), and in KH he describes his meetings with many great personalities, including R. Menachem Lonzano, author of Sheti Yadot,...


This seems to be a "slip of the pen", for it assumes an impossibilty. Conforte was born in 1617 (or 1618) in Salonika, and Lonzano died before 1624 (apparently in Eretz Israel; he was buried there at the foot of the Mount of Olives). Thus, Conforte was still a young lad in Salonika when Lonzano died elsewhere (apparently in Eretz Israel). In short, these two scholars never met, and Conforte certainly does not mention any such meeting between them.


In an interesting turn of events, these two scholars were, nevertheless, connected; for Conforte married Lonzano's granddaughter, the daughter of Lonzano's son, Adonikam. Conforte mentions his father-in-law (and the fact that he died young) in Koreh HaDorot, at the end of his entry on R. Menahem de Lonzano.


(2) In his introduction to the new edition of Koreh HaDorot, p. 32, R. Bezalel Deblitzki lists as one of the manuscripts used by Conforte:

      שבלי הלקט בכתיבת יד מהר"ם די לונזאנו   


When one goes to verify this assumption, one finds, on p. 76 of the new edition, the following quote:



 ומצאתי כתוב בתחלת ספר אחד מס' שבלי הלקט מכתיבת יד ה"ר מנחם די לונזאנו ז"ל וז"ל = וזה לשונו


At first glance, one could possibly understand this statement as R. Deblitzki did, i.e. that Lonzano copied the whole manuscript of Shibbolei HaLeket.


Nevertheless, a closer look yields the following interpretation:


Conforte is describing a manuscript (written by an anonymous scribe) which was in the posession of Lonzano. At the beginning of this manuscript Lonzano added a gloss (quoted here at length by Conforte) about the author of the work and his teachers. Lonzano also mentions in the gloss that Zedekiah HaRofeh (author of Shibbolei HaLeket) wrote another work (=volume two; in manuscript) and that he (Lonzano) owns a copy. Lonzano further makes an observation at the end of his gloss concerning the state of the work - that people later changed the order of the work, just as they did with Sefer Yerei'im.


In short, the phrase

ומצאתי כתוב.. מכתיבת יד ה"ר מנחם די לונזאנו ז"ל

refers only to the gloss of Lonzano - which was subsequently quoted at length by Conforte.


The inserted phrase: בתחלת ספר אחד מס' שבילי הלקט  simply informed the reader what were the contents of the manuscript (Shibbolei HaLeket, volume 1), and where the gloss was inserted (at the beginning of the manuscript).


I later discovered that already HID"A (R. Hayyim David Azoulai) correctly interpreted this passage in Conforte's Koreh HaDorot, and understood that Lonzano possessed a manuscript copy of Shibbolei HaLeket. See Azoulai's remarks in Sheim HaGedolim, s.v. רבינו צדקיה ב"ר אברהם הרופא


וב' ספרים אלו (=שבלי הלקט, על שני חלקיו) היו ביד מהר"ם די לונזאנו כמו שהביא דבריו בס' קורא הדורות דף כ"א ע"א ע"ש


It should be noted that this phenomenon, of Lonzano adding glosses in books (manuscripts and printed) that he owned, can be documented in many other cases as well.


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