MOSES BEN ENOCH:
Founder of Talmud study in Spain; died about 965. He was one of the four scholars that went from Sura, the seat of a once flourishing but then declining Talmud academy, in order to collect contributions for that school. During a voyage from Bari, on the coast of Italy, they were captured by the Moorish-Spanish admiral Ibn Rumaḥis, who, according to the legend, became enamored of the beautiful young wife of Moses. In distress she asked her husband in Hebrew whether those who were drowned in the sea could look forward to resurrection, and when he answered, in the words of the psalm, "The Lord saith, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring them again from the depths of the sea," she cast herself into the waters and was drowned. Moses was taken to Cordova with his little son Enoch, where he was redeemed by the Jewish community, about 945 or 948. While there he went to the schoolhouse, took his seat in a corner, and listened quietly to the Talmudic discourse of the judge and rabbi, Nathan, not a very learned man. Some of the stranger's remarks attracted attention, and his detailed explanation of the passage quoted by Nathan and his ready answers to all questions addressed to him astonished the whole assembly. Nathan, therefore, on that very day voluntarily resigned his office and confessed himself Moses' pupil. The wealthy community of Cordova showed Moses much honor and immediately elected him rabbi. Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut, rejoicing at this event, induced the calif 'Abd al-Raḥman to order Ibn Rumaḥis to forego the higher ransom which he, in consequence, was demanding for Moses. Moses organized an important school at Cordova, which was independent of the gaonate and was attended by many pupils; and through him Cordova became the seat of Jewish scholarship.
- Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah, ed. Amsterdam, p. 41a;
- Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten, ii. 399 et seq.;
- Frankel's Zeitschrift für die Religiösen Interessen des Judenthums, ii. 100 et seq., iii. 397 et seq., 422 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. v. 336, 347 et seq., 542 et seq.