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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Judah ben Jehiel Rofe
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Hebrew Name(s): יהודה בן יחיאל רופא; יהודה בן יחיאל מסר לאון
Other Names: Judah Messer Leon
Period: Acharonim — 15th Century
Location: Italy
Dates: c. 1420–1498

Biography:
Judah ben Jehiel Rofe (usually called Judah Messer Leon) was an Italian rabbi, teacher, physician, and philosopher. He was a scholar who successfully assimilated his secular studies to the traditional culture of Rabbinic studies.
 
The son of a doctor, he was ordained as a rabbi and received a diploma in medicine while in his early 20s. Tradition recounts that he received the title Messer (a title of knighthood) from the Emperor Frederick III, during the emperor's first visit to Italy in 1452. The name "Leon" is related to "Judah", because of the traditional identification with the lion of Judah.
 
Messer Leon travelled and taught, combining the traditional study of the Jewish texts with lectures on the non-Jewish program of the medieval secular curriculum. He also practiced medicine. He settled in Naples in 1480 and remained there, with his academy, for virtually the whole of the rest of his life, until he and his son David were forced to flee in 1495 following the capture of the city by the French under Charles VIII.
 
Messer Leon wrote extensively, including commentaries on the logic, the ethics, and the physics of Aristotle, and their analysis by Averroes.

Works:
Libnat ha-Sappir (The Pavement of Sapphire); Miklal Yofi (Perfection of Beauty); Nofet Zufim (The Honeycomb's Flow)

Comments:
Libnat ha-Sappir is a hebrew grammar.
Miklal Yofi is a textbook on ligic.
Nofet Zufim is a textbook on rhetoric.

 

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