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Miscellanies: Notes on "Solomon ben Buzaglo"

Dr. H. J. Zimmels

<plain_text><page sequence="1">NOTE ON "SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO" In his comprehensive study "Solomon ben Joseph Buzaglo" (see Transactions of The Jewish Historical Society oj'England, vol. XVI, 1952, p. 35), Mr. Herbert Loewe mentions also Shalom Buzaglo and referring to Duschinsky, Jacob Kimchi and Shalotn Buzaglo (Transactions, VII, pp. 272 ff.) makes the following statement: "He (Shalom Buzaglo) says, in the preface to his book Kisse Melekh that he was twice rescued from death by fire by the Sultan and his general?if this be the meaning of the words i?? K?S n?n ?K??ttr? t??? d^?&amp;b 'a ?si??and he signs himself ppn which possibly implies that he held rabbinical office. Dr. Duschinsky</page><page sequence="2">NOTE ON "SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO" 291 was of opinion that he was a Dayan. He is subsequently heard of in Amsterdam where the Kisse Melekh was published in 1769 and in London, where three years previously, in 1766, he was a contemporary of a dispute about Shechitah. In another controversy of the day he was more actively concerned. He pronounced himself in favour of vaccin? ation but disputed that Jenner discovered it." I think that several of the points mentioned in this statement require some correction and further explanation. (1) The phrase muzzal me-Esh shethe peamim mi-Melekh etc., seems to indicate that he was rescued from death by fire of the Sultan rather than by the Sultan. In fact, however, both the danger and the rescue were the work of the Sultan. The danger appears to have arisen from the persecutions of the Jews in North Africa in the first half of the 18th century, due either to the ruthless taxation or to the political troubles, and many Jews were burnt alive. (Cf. J. M. Toledano, Ner Ha-Maarab, pp. 126 ff., 131 ff.). In a letter to David Meldola, Shalom Buzaglo apologizes for not taking part any more in the dispute between Emden and Eybeschutz1 with the following words : "How much less (can I give up my point of view), I who have been thrown into fire because of my jealousy for the sake of the Lord and who have surrendered my life. The Lord who delivered me from the heated furnace will help me . . ." (Sephat Emeth, Lwow, 1877, p. 22b). In the introduction to his commentary Mikdash Melekh on the Zohar (Przemysl, 1880) Buzaglo tells us that many Jews were burnt and that he too was bound and prepared for death; however, "the heart of a king is in the hand of God (cf. Prov, 21, 1) and He turned it from being an enemy to become a faithful friend." From here it is obvious that the fire of which he speaks was caused by the Sultan himself. (2) The letter to Meldola is dated : London, 9th Tammuz 11 (1751). This shows that Buzaglo was in London already in that year. (3) From approbations printed in his books and also from other writings of his contemporaries we can see that he was certainly a Dayan. In his Tochahath Le-Shobabim Ve-Takkanah Ve-Kapparah Le-Shabim (published by Duschinsky in Hazofeh, Budapest, 1914, p. 140) Buzaglo even reports that he was a Rabbi of two (Ashkenazi) communities2 in London after the departure of Rabbi Zebi Hirsch b. Aryeh Leb (Rabbi Hirsche 1 Levin, 1764) for about two years. I should like to quote this passage in full since it also throws light on Buzaglo's character: "For inquire now of the days past which were before thee (cf. Deut. 4, 32) i.e. the 'interregnum' when two communities asked me to act as a minister to them offering me a salary. I, however, did not consent to their request (at first) in order not to enter the domain of the great Rabbi R. Zebi, until they brought me a letter written by this same Rabbi in which he besought me to fill his place. This is evident from his letter which I keep as a token and as a sign. Then I agreed to their proposal and served them for nearly two years. However, I quite saw myself that I ought not to accept any salary from them in order not to deprive the poor of their money, since I had a good income from another source which the Holy One provided for me. Because of this I regarded their money as prohibited to me, and I had no benefit of it for so much as a perutah (farthing). All this is known to all your people, 1 R. Jacob Emden, however, maintains that Shalom and his brother Joseph, who lived in Copen? hagen, were Eybesch?tz's "brethren and faithful friends" (Hithabkuth, Gath Deruchah, p. 58a). * They are : The Hambro* Synagogue and the New Synagogue. On these Synagogues cf. Cecil Roth, History of the Great Synagogue, pp. 33ff, 115ff., 120 ff. BB</page><page sequence="3">292 MISCELLANIES that I had no benefit from them, neither from the congregation as a whole nor from any individual all my life. From the day of my birth until my old age I hated gifts . .." (4) The reference to vaccination is absolutely wrong. How could Buzaglo who died in the year 1777 (as Loewe, loc. cit. states) take part in a controversy about vaccination and dispute Jenner's priority seeing that his method became known in the year 1798 only ? I found the statement made by Loewe also mentioned by Duschinsky, Jacob Kimchiand Shalom Buzaglo, in Trans. Jew. Hist. Soc. VII, p. 286 (off.-printp. 17), in the Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. Ill, p. 447 and by Feldman, The Jewish Child, p.380. They refer to Schechter, Studies, I, p. 377, who stated this for the first time. The only reference to Buzaglo in connection with smallpox is made?as far as I could ascertain?by Abraham Nanzig (of Nancy) in his booklet, Aleh Teruphah (London, 1785, sub fin.), where in defending inoculation he reports in the name of Buzaglo the method in vogue in North Africa. According to this report people used to put raisins into the hands of a child suffering from smallpox of a mild character and to give them later to a healthy child in order to produce smallpox of the same mild type. H. J. ZlMMELS.</page></plain_text>