AMICO, JOSEPH (originally Amigo):

Learned and influential rabbi born in Tunis (?); who went to Italy after the year 1550, when Moses Provençal was chief rabbi of Mantua. In the question of the legality of the divorce granted to Samuel Venturoso in Venice, on which the opinions of the contemporaneous rabbis were divided, Joseph Amico took sides with Moses Provençal and Felice Melli. In this case, as in a similar one at Ravenna, he couched his decision in moderate terms, and continually exhorted the contending sides to prudence. In a much-debated case dealing with the levirate law that came up for decision in 1573, Joseph Amico was also asked for an opinion, and he defended the thesis that "the law of levirate takes precedence over that of release (Ḧaliẓah)." Since neither of these Responsa bears any indication of date or place, it is difficult to say where Joseph Amico lived, but it would appear, from the earlier form of his name, (Amigo), that he was of Levantine or quasi-Spanish origin. His name occurs also in the second part of the Responsa of Moses ben Joseph di Trani and in the collection of rabbinical consultations in the possession of M. Zadoc-Kahn. In the "Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah" (64a) mere mention is made of a Jacob Amigo, but the exact relationship between these two men can not be determined with any degree of certainty, nor for that matter can it be decided whether there is not a misprint in the name Jacob for Joseph.

  • M. Provençal, Pesaḳ, etc., Mantua, 1556;
  • Lampronti, PaḦad YiẓḦak, iv. 23;
  • Nepi-Ghirondi, Toledot Gedole Yisrael, s. v.
G. J.
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