Shmuel Benveniste's Efforts on behalf of the Jewish Community of Girona, 1443

I'll admit, History is not my central field of activity. But, after initial consultation with Prof. Dov Septimus, I decided that this fragment could not be ignored. I will be glad to receive any additional information about this. In a CD of images of binding fragments received from the Arxiu Historic in Girona we find mostly drafts of the Bet Din (one item dated 1355), four bifolia including a Talmud fragment (Shabbat) on parchment in Ashkenazic hand, Rashi on Berakhot and an additional, unknown commentary on the same tractate, and a Yozer for Purim. The images here are all low-resolution jpegs that pixilated when enlarged, so it's sometime difficult to make a precise reading, particularly in the drafts and record books written in cursive Sephardic. My attention was drawn to a two-page item, apparently serving as the fly-pages of a volume labeled 2212.The online image has been published here. We see here a record of expenditures, loans and mortgages, in a layout that reminded us of the Aragonian community record Yah. Ms. Heb. 242 here in the NLI (published with color facsimile in Books from Sefarad, 1992 pp. 150-151). The main difference between them is that the Girona pages are in Hebrew, with only a few technical terms in Catalan. On one of the pages we find the heading:
אלו הן ההוצאות מזמן גיביתי (?) מתחיל א' ג'ניר תמ"ג עד א' ג'יניר תמ"ד לחשבונם"". A record of expenditures spanning, in the Christian dates- January 1, 1443-January 1, 1444. This in itself is an important finding, as this Jewish community was presumed to be long disbanded in the destruction of 1391 and the events in its aftermath.
The last published records of a functional community, in the stages of collapse in the years 1415-1418, can be found in Angeles Masia, A Portaciones al Estudio Dell Call Gerundense, Sefarad XIII, 1953, pp. 287-308; LB Prats, Mas Precisiones Sobre el Call Gerundense La Ordencion de 1418, Sefarad XXI 1961 pp. 48-57.
Many of the expenditures are loans to private citizens, payments to and the local "Musen". But many of the records deal with the efforts of Samuel Benvineste on behalf of the community. One record reads:
ראשונה להשיג חותם אדונותינו המלכה יר"ה, שימסרו\ לנו פישישאו מבית הכנסת הישנה וגם למיסיר ג'ופרי\ שיעיין חותם ביטול התקנות בעבור שיש בו קפיטול\ כי כל הבתי כנסיות שלא יעשו בהם תפלה שהיו מהקהל\ כמו נכסי הכלל הוצאתי ע"י אנבנבנשת שמואל בין \ פרוויאר הסופלוקיסיאו וסידור הכתב...
To my limited understanding it means thus: The first (payment?) to obtain the signature or seal of our lord the Queen (may God preserve her) that we be given the posesio (possession) of the Old Synagogue and to Mr. Geoffery that he may review the signature on the annulment of the edicts, as all the Synagogues that are (no longer) in use for prayer, that once belonged to the community [have become?] public domain. Expended by EnBenveniste Samuel between February(?) the suplecusio (supplication) was drawn up…
Four records later:
עוד לסדר הכתב בברצלונ"ה פבריר תמ"ג על ידי אנבנבנישת\ שמואל הנזכר לאציל"ס פראטש סופר הגזבר כללי\ הלך עמו פעמים רבות לגזבר כללי הנזכר שהיה להשיג ממנו אשיקוטוריאה בעד בית הכנסת וגם\ ללכת לאשישור מיסי"ר פא"ב
That would be: to the order of (expenses in) Barcelona February 1443, expended by Samuel Benveniste to Achilles Prats, the secretary of the General Treasurer, (with whom) he went many times to the abovementioned General Treasurer in order to obtain from him an esicutoria (executorial?) for the synagogue, and also to visit the asesior (assessor?) Mr. Pav.
If my understanding is correct, Samuel Benveniste is attempting to lobby the Queen (that would be Maria, queen of Alfonso V) to retain the communal property, particularly the synagogue estates that have become the property of the General Treasury, as most of them are no longer in use.
The author of the ethical treatise Orakh Yamim bears the name Shmuel b. Yaakov Benveniste. So too is the name of the translator of Maimonides' Medical treatise Miqalat Fi'Rabu (Sefer Hamisa'dim), although Steinschneider (Hebraische Ubersetzungen, p. 767) dates him around 1320.
gmb 016