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Monday, February 11, 2013

600 years since Tortosa Dispute

February 1413 - February 2013

On February 7th, 1413, at the beginning of the reign of Ferdinand I, in a room above the Cathedral of Tortosa sacristy, which still has the name of "the Council Chamber," began with solemnity a religious debate, the most important of the Middle Ages in the Aragon Crown. It was promoted and presided over by Pope Benedict XIII. The dispute had 67 sessions extended until November 13th, 1414. The last ones took place in Sant Mateu del Maestrat. The goal of the developers was to force the Jewish religious authorities to recognize the "mistakes" of Judaism in the presence of Jewish public that was forced to attend.

The convert Jeroni de Santa Fe (which until 1412 was called Yehosua ben Yosef ibn Vives, alias Lorquí), who knows the Talmud and the Jewish law, faced twenty rabbis from the Catalan counties and the Kingdom of Aragon. Eight rabbis of the main aljamas, including Zerakhia ha-Levi, Matatiahu ha-Yashari and Mossé ben Abbas from Zaragoza, Yosef Albo from Daroca, Astruc HaLevi from Alcañiz and Xelomó Maimon from Tortosa, had personal interventions. These interventions have been included in the Latin minutes that are preserved in the church archives, but also a fragmentary Hebrew chronicle: the Vikuah Tortosa collected and literary adapted into the Shevet Yehudah by Salomó ibn Verga (1544). The Hebrew version was probably written by the Rabbi of Girona Bonastruc des Mestre. Today it is preserved in the National Library of Jerusalem.

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