Moses ben Mordecai Bassola

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Moses ben Mordecai Bassola (or simply: Moses Bassola, Alternative spelling: Basilea, Basila: Hebrew באסולה or simply: משה באסולה; Alternative Hebrew spelling: באזלה,איש באזולה,ב(א)סולה, באסל,באזילא);[1] born 1480 (year ה'ר"מ, Hebrew calendar), in Pesaro, Italy - died in 1560 (year ה'ש"כ, Hebrew calendar) ) was a Rabbi and a cabalist. His travel book has been published in English and modern Hebrew by Abraham David under the titles In Zion and Jerusalem: The Itinerary of Rabbi Moses Basola (1521–1523). (Jerusalem: C. G. Foundation Jerusalem Project Publications, 1999. 148 pp. [English], 48 pp. [Hebrew].)

Since he called himself Ẓarfati (the Frenchman), his family may have originated from France. R. Moses was the son of a famous rabbinical family in the Land of Israel and in Italy, living between the 15th century - 18th century. His last name - Bassola - shows that the family probably originated from Basel (the Latin form of the name is: Basil) in Switzerland. He served in his youth in his hometown of Pesaro as a Rabbi. In 1521 he sailed to the Land of Israel via Cyprus and Crete and toured it for a year and a half. His impressions from this visit are documented in his book Sefer Masaot, in which he describes various sites in Ottoman Palestine (partial list), such as Bar'am, Ein Zeitim, Safed, Meron, Kefar Hananiah, Akbara, Peki'in, Amuka, Gush Halav, Dalton, Huqoq, Jethro's Tomb in the Horns of Hittin, Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron, among other places.

In every place he visited, Rabbi Moses described the inhabitants of the country, the number of Jews living in each locality and their important occupations, including the burial sites of the righteous, synagogues, etc. During this period, Rabbi Moses resided in the settlement of Ein Zeitim, which had then a Jewish community of some forty families. The book became a primary source of information for Jewish life in the land of Israel and the country's attractions during those years.

After returning to Italy R. Moses lived in Ancona and headed the Yeshiva there. In his later years R. Moses made Aliyah to the Land of Israel and settled in Safed, where he was in a friendly relationship with the rabbis of the city, especially with R. Moses ben Jacob Cordovero. R. Moses' son, R. Azriel ben Moses Bassola,[1] was a known scholar, whom among his students was R. Leon of Modena.

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