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Joseph ben Moses Trani

(1568 – 1639)

Joseph ben Moses Trani was a rabbi and halakhist. Trani, known as the "Maharit" (Morenu ha-Rav Joseph Trani), was born in Safed, the youngest son of Moses b. Joseph *Trani. Joseph, 12 years old when his father died, was taken into the home of Solomon *Sagis, a Safed scholar, and became his pupil. In 1587, when Sagis died, Trani went to Egypt, where he attracted many pupils. After a short time he returned to Safed where he founded and taught in a yeshivah. Following the outbreak of a plague in Safed (1594), he went to Jerusalem, where he did research on the design and plan of the Temple. The resulting work, Ẓurat ha-Bayit, was lost, but many fragments and quotations from it have been preserved in Derekh ha-Kodesh by Ḥayyim *Alfandari (published in Maggid mi-Reshit, Constantinople, 1710). After some time Trani returned to Safed, where – as his father before him – he headed the Sephardi community. In 1599 he was sent by the Safed community to Constantinople, and in 1604 took up permanent residence there. Trani headed a large yeshivah in Constantinople which became a center of Torah for all Turkish Jewry and produced many of the great Turkish rabbis of the 17th century, including Ḥayyim b. Israel *Benveniste. Trani was eventually elected chief rabbi of Turkey, in which office he introduced takkanot, established societies, and became renowned for his many charitable acts. However, he took a severe attitude toward the *Karaites, who came under his authority according to the law.

In addition to Ẓurat ha-Bayit, the following works by Joseph have been published: Talmud novellae on the tractates of Shabbat, Ketubbot, and Kiddushin (Venice, 1645); Ẓafenat Pane'aḥ (ibid., 1648), sermons; and responsa (Constantine, 1641; Venice, 1645). Most of his works, which encompassed all branches of Torah, have been lost, among them a supercommentary on Elijah *Mizraḥi's commentary on the Pentateuch and an abridgment of the Arukh of *Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome.


Frumkin-Rivlin, 1 (1928), 119–20; Rosanes, Togarmah, 3 (1938), 96–100; Yaari, Sheluḥei, 243–4; Bloch, in: Hadorom, 5–6 (1958), 95–108; 7 (1958), 78–100; I. Schepansky, Ereẓ Yisrael be-Sifrut ha-Teshuvot, 1 (1966), 314–22; 2 (1968), index, S.V. She'elot u-Teshuvot Maharit.

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