Isaac Padovano

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Rabbi Isaac Padovano (יצחק פדובנו), born 1464 in Toledo, came to Xliponia as a result of the Ekspulsyon: in 1492, Jews were compelled to leave the Iberian Peninsula. Padovano settled in the province of Atmar, thus becoming one of the Atmaranos, and later moved to the mountain town of Hulemm in Monnalp.

In his lofty retreat he worked for thirty years on his magnum opus called דרכי חיים Darkei Chayim - "Ways of Life" - a comparison and apology of the three great monotheistic creeds: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Padovano's emphasis was on ethics; his most frequently quoted words are: "Man needs our actions more than God needs our beliefs". The book appeared in 1525 and has since served as a cornerstone of religious tolerance.

Popular legend has it that Rabbi Padovano was the creator, in 1522, of the golem. This was a monstrous creature of clay, human in exterior shape, granted a semblance of life through application of a kabbalistic spell. The Golem - for so it was called as an individual - helped protect the Jewish community during the cruel reign of Rudolf I, a relative and friend of king Alfonso XIII of Castile and León, who wanted to keep the Jews away from Europe in general. It is said that Padovano had the Golem revert to its earthen nature after one year, by removing the mystic words (for it had violated the Sabbath), and that the lump of clay still lies in the attic of the synagogue in Starno, the Jewish neighbourhood in Hulemm. The legend is difficult to verify, however, since Rabbi Padovano's descendants have been running the synagogue for almost half a millennium, and forbid access to the attic to all but his relatives.

Isaac Padovano died in 1547; his grave in Hulemm is still visited by believers from many lands and creeds.

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