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Nifoci (Nafusi), Isaac

NIFOCI (Nafusi), ISAAC (late 14th century), physician-astronomer and scholar of *Majorca. In 1359 King Pedro IV of Aragon invited Nifoci to Barcelona to construct clocks and astrolabes. Three years later, he was appointed palace astronomer (maestre astralabre de casa del senyor rey) and also received the sinecure of ritual slaughterer and inspector (shoḥet u-vodek) of the community of Majorca, an office he was empowered to pass on to his son Joseph. In 1380 he entered the service of the infante John as manufacturer of astrolabes (maestre de fer stralaus). During the persecutions of 1391 he was forcibly converted to Christianity. However, shortly afterward he took refuge in Bugia (Bougie), North Africa, where he returned to Judaism, then emigrated to Ereẓ Israel. From Bugia, Nifoci addressed a question to Simon b. Ẓemaḥ *Duran and *Isaac b. Sheshet, on whether it was permissible "to set out on a caravan journey to Palestine, on a Friday" (cf. Duran's responsa, vol. 1, no. 21).


Baer, Spain, index, s.v. Isaac Nifoci; Pons, in: Hispania, 16 (1956), 249–51; A.L. Isaacs, Jews of Majorca (1936), 93–95; I. Epstein, Responsa of Rabbi Simon B. Zemah Duran (1930), 101.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.