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MASSARANI (MASSARAN):

Name of an Italian family which has been known since the latter part of the fifteenth century. Originally the name of the family was , from Massarano, a small town near Novara in Piedmont. Subsequently various members lived at Mantua, and still later at Milan. The earliest known bearer of the name was Isaac Massaran, who copied, in 1255, No. 23 of the Codex De Rossi; it is not certain, however, whether he belonged to this family or whether he was a native of Mazarron, in Spain. Two centuries later the copyist Isaiah b. Jacob b. Isaiah Massaran lived at Mantua and wrote Nos. 6 and 620 of the Codex De Rossi, No. 127 of the Codex Turin, and No. 45 of the Codex Montefiore. Azariah dei Rossi's scholarly brother-in-law, Ḥayyim Massaran, who owned a number of rare Talmudical works, lived at Mantua about 1560. At the same time Bezaleel b. Samson, Levi b. Jacob, Samson b. Jehiel, and Samson b. Isaiah, all belonging to the Massarani family, were living in this community. Among these Bezaleel b. Samson Massarani is especially noteworthy for his energetic efforts to save Hebrew books from the destruction with which the Inquisition threatened them. He was the chairman of the deputation of communal directors and rabbis that decided at Padua upon an anticipatory censorship in order to secure permission to reprint the Talmud. As the leader of this deputation Bezalcel went to Rome, to Pope Sixtus V., and obtained permission to print and own the Talmud after it had been censored and expurgated and the title changed. Samson Massarani was one of the deputies cited by the cardinals in 1590 before the Congregation of the Index Expurgatorius. Another Samson, a son of Bezaleel, was a pupil of R. Moses Provençal, with whom he corresponded on Talmudic subjects. In 1592 Simon Massarani published at Mantua Al-Ḥarizi's "Mishle Hakamim," with a rimed Italian translation, under the title "Motti di Diversi Saggi Tradotti di Lingua Hebræa in Volgare." Abraham b. Isaac Alluf described, in 1630, the expulsion of the Jews from Mantua. Ephraim Massarani was rabbi at Cento in 1676, and in correspondence with Isaac Lampronti. About the same time Isaac Massarani was rabbi at Salonica. Among the more recent members of this family may be mentioned Giacobbe Massarani, lawyer at Milan about 1850, whose son Tullo, one of the foremost writers of Italy, was formerly vice-presidentof the Italian chamber, and has been a member of the Senate since 1879.

Bibliography:
  • Zunz, in Kerem Ḥemed, v. 134;
  • Mortara, Indice, p. 37;
  • Stern, Urkundliche Beiträge, i., Nos. 131 et seq.
G. I. E.
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