Biografía de Menasseh Ben Israel

¿Quién fue Menasseh Ben Israel?

Menasseh ben Israel (Portuguese: ; born Manuel Díaz Soeiro; Hebrew: מנשה בן ישראל), also spelled Menasheh or Menasse, was a Dutch rabbi, writer, diplomat, theologian, printer, philosopher and kabbalist. He was born in madeira and in 1624 was one of the founders of the first synagogue in Amsterdam. He also founded one of the earliest Jewish printing presses in 1626.

Ben Israel’s main area of interest was mysticism and Judaica, and he wrote on a wide range of topics including the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, Kabbalah, and the messianic age. He also wrote a number of works on non-Jewish subjects, including a treatise on the wisdom of the ancients and a study of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Ben Israel was also a prominent figure in the religious and political life of the Dutch Republic. He was an intermediary between the Dutch authorities and the Jewish community, and played a key role in the successful negotiation of the right of Jews to reside and worship openly in the Republic. He also helped to secure the release of the English philosopher and statesman John Milton from house arrest in 1660.

Ben Israel was born in Madeira in 1604 to a family of Marrano Jews, who had fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal. His father, Miguel Díaz Soeiro, was a successful merchant and a respected member of the community. His mother, Gracia Mendes, was the daughter of the influential Dutch-Portuguese Jew Isaac Mendes.

The family moved to Amsterdam in 1610, and Ben Israel attended the local synagogue school. In 1618 he began to study at the yeshiva of Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, one of the leading Talmudists of his day.

In 1624, at the age of 20, he was one of the co-founders of the Amsterdam Jewish community’s first synagogue, Beth Jacob. He also established a Jewish printing press, which he used to publish a number of works on Judaism, including a prayer book and a commentary on the Passover Haggadah.

Ben Israel became a Rabbi in 1625, and in 1626 he was appointed Haftarah reader at the Amsterdam synagogue. He also began to deliver public lectures on Jewish topics, which were attended by both Jews and Christians.

In 1630 he married Sarah, the daughter of the well-known Dutch-Portuguese Jew Isaac Aboab da Fonseca. The couple had nine children, of whom four died in infancy.

Ben Israel became increasingly involved in the religious and political life of the Dutch Republic. He served on the Amsterdam city council, and was a member of the Assembly of the Dutch States-General. He was also a leading figure in the Dutch Jewish community, and was an intermediary between the authorities and the Jewish community on a number of occasions.

In 1650 he was appointed chief rabbi of the Dutch Republic, a position he held until his death in 1657. He used his position to try to improve the lot of his coreligionists, and to promote religious toleration.

Under his leadership, the Amsterdam Jewish community flourished. He presided over the construction of a new synagogue, and helped to establish a Jewish cemetery and a Jewish hospital.

He also played a key role in the successful negotiation of the right of Jews to reside and worship openly in the Dutch Republic. This was a major step forward for religious toleration in Europe, and helped to pave the way for the future emancipation of the Jews in Europe.

Ben Israel also wrote a number of works on Judaism, including a defense of the Talmud against Christian criticisms, and a commentary on the Book of Genesis. He also wrote on non-Jewish topics, including a treatise on the wisdom of the ancients and a study of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Ben Israel died in Amsterdam in 1657. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery, and his grave is now a national monument..

Escrito por: Gonzalo Jiménez

Licenciado en Filosofía en la Universidad de Granada (UGR), con Máster en Filosofía Contemporánea en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
Desde 2015, se ha desempeñado como docente universitario y como colaborador en diversas publicaciones Académicas, con artículos y ensayos. Es aficionado a la lectura de textos antiguos y le gustan las películas y los gatos.

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