||Prayers and an account of a devastating earthquake at Leghorn. In January 1742, from the 5th (Friday, 29 Tevet 5502) through the 16th (Tuesday 11 Shevat) that month Leghorn experienced a series of earthquakes which, it is reported, left no major building undamaged. These earthquakes were significant enough to be the subject of a pamphlet by a Mr. Horton, Schoolmaster at Hampton, then Chaplain to the British factory in Leghorn, published in London, and noted in another pamphlet by Z. Grey on earthquakes published in Cambridge, both in 1750. A Jewish account, with appropriate prayers, was published immendiately after the earthquake. The Jewish community memorialized the earthquakes in Shever ba-Mezarim. The title, mezarim (troubles, distress), is vocalized, for unvocallized it can be read as Mezraim (Egypt), the meaning being, as the title page states, “an allusion that in the year Shever שבר (502=1742), that is here in Egypt, from the implication that shever is a language of hope, expectation, of trust, that even though a sharp sword rests on the neck of a person he should not despair of mercy, for as our eyes saw how the Holy One, blessed is He, broke the strength of the Mizrim (Egyptians) and delivered and redeemed us from all “trouble and anguish” (Isaiah 30:6, Proverbs 1:27).”
Meldola begins with a detailed and moving account of the earthquake, describing it in the first thirteen leaves of the book, mentioning several times the activities and prayers of R. Malachi ben Jacob, one of the community’s parnasim, as well that of the Duke, lord of the land. Meldola’s account is followed by selihot and prayers, and includes piyyutim written at the time of earlier earthquakes, in Lugo (1688) and in Ancona (1690), by R. Johanan Ghiron (1646–1716), rabbi in Florence, and known as Alluf Torah due to his great erudition. The colophon records the corrector as R. Moses ben Raphael Meldola.