SAMUEL OF ESCALETA (ESCALETTE; called also Samuel Sulami):

French Talmudist, poet, and philanthropist of the fourteenth century. Jacob of Provence considers him one of the first poets of Provence. His piety, learning, and generosity also were praised by his contemporaries. At first he lived in Narbonne, and then in Perpignan. He took an active interest in the religious controversies of 1303-6, and announced his adherence to the principles of the liberal party by harboring the unfortunate Levi of Villefranche in his house at Perpignan (Gross, "Gallia Judaica," p. 200). Despite many warnings on the part of Ben Adret, he did not abandon the persecuted Levi. However, he was not the man to remain true to his inner convictions at all costs, and when fate pursued him relentlessly and his daughter died, he believed that these events were consequences of his sins; hence he withdrew his favor and hospitality from Levi. This course of action, which was, in a certain sense, unmanly, seems to have evoked the pity rather than the displeasure of his contemporaries. In any case it did not diminish the esteem in which he was held by all.

The misfortunes that befell Samuel seem to have wrought it great change in his religious attitude. Whereas formerly, despite the piety which his opponents conceded to him, he had not wished to hear of limitations to the study of the liberal sciences, now, broken by his misfortune and hence irresolute in his views, he joined with Ben Adret in forbidding the young to study the sciences and the allegoric interpretation of the Biblical narratives.

  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, pp. 658, 701;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 220, 224;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 328, 432.
E. C. A. Pe.
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