1160 - 1235 ISAAC THE BLIND (Sagi Nahor) (France)
One of the early Kabbalists (see 1200). Although little is known about him, he was considered by many Kabbalists to be one of its great teachers. He lived in Posquieres and wrote a commentary on Sefer Yezira (the Book of Creation), an ancient text and one of the cornerstones of the Kabbalah. His students, Asher ben David and Azriel ben Menachem, moved to Gerona, which became a center of Kabbalistic study.
1160 RABBENU TAM (France)
In the shadow of the Second Crusade, Rabbenu Tam called the first Rabbinical Council in Troyes to affirm religious laws. Some of the Council's decisions were: No Jew could summon another to a civil court without his consent, and no person could apply to civil authorities for help to receive an appointed position in the Jewish community.
1160 DAVID ALROY - FALSE MESSIAH (Persia)
Promised to lead the Jews and take Jerusalem from the Crusaders. One evening he told the Jews of Baghdad that they were all going to fly to Jerusalem that night and asked them to give him their property. That night much of the Jewish population stood on their roofs waiting to fly. Alroy was killed, according to Benjamin of Tudela, after one "successful" battle, by his father-in-law, who was allegedly bribed and threatened by the governor of Amaida. Alroy's followers called themselves Menahemites and continued to live in the Azerbaijan area. They eventually faded out of existence.
Disraeli's novel Alroy (1833) became a well-known, if fictionalized, version of his life.
1160 May 2, BEZIERS (France)
Bishop William, appalled by the custom of beating Jews during Palm Sunday, issued an order excommunicating priests who did so. Beziers, home to many Albigensinians, was one of the more liberal and open cities in France.
1162 GRANADA (Spain)
Jews and Christians joined to overthrow the Almohad regime. The Almohads only permitted converts to Islam to live in the city. Unfortunately the rebellion was not successful.
1163 BAGHDAD (Persia)
Benjamin of Tudela found 40,000 Jews living in Baghdad, with 28 synagogues and 10 Torah academies.
1163 KAIFENG (China)
A synagogue was built. Jews had arrived there at least 50 years earlier, probably from India or Persia.
London Jews loaned Thomas Beckett 10 marks for his flight to France. The King, furious at the loan, confiscated the revenue.
1164 (1 Adar 4924) DEATH OF ABRAHAM IBN EZRA
(see 1089-1164 ABRAHAM IBN EZRA)
C. 1165 - C. 1230 ELEAZAR BEN JUDAH OF WORMS (Germany)
Halachic scholar. He also wrote liturgical poetry (piyutim) which were influenced by the deaths of his wife, son, and daughter during the Second Crusade, an event in which he was also injured. His major works include Sefer ha-Chochmah (Book of Wisdom) and Sodei Razaya (Secrets of Secrets) on theology. Many of his other works including commentaries were lost. Eleazar belonged to a group of German Jewish scholars, known as the Hasedei Ashkenaz, which had a lasting influence on the direction, customs and philosophy of German Jewry.
1165 FEZ (Morocco)
The new Almohad ruler declared that all Jews must convert to Islam. Judah ha-Kohen ibn Shushan was burned alive for refusing to convert. Maimonides fled the country, moving to Egypt.
1166 - 1217 (13 Adar 4978) JUDAH BEN SAMUEL, THE PIOUS (Ha-Chassid)
A Tosafist, known for his books on mysticism and ethics, including Sefer Hassidim (Book of the Pious). He was considered one of the most important scholars of his time. Ben Samuel was a descendent of the Kalonymos family of Italy. He linked talmudic lore from Babylon and Italy to Germany. Among his students was Eleazar b. Judah of Worms (1165). Though a prolific writer in theology and ethics, few of his works survived.
Frederick Barbarossa complained to King Henry II about a number of Jews who had left his domain and were now residing in England. Henry forced the richer Jews to return to Germany and the rest to pay him a fine of 5000 marks in order to be able to remain in England.
Completed Meor, a commentary on the Mishna. It contained the seeds of Maimonides later philosophical works.