||Discourses, responsa, and novellae assembled by R. Isaac ben Abraham Akrish from four prominent rabbis, who are described as four kings, namely R. Joseph ben Solomon Colon (Maharik), R. Joseph ben Moses Trani (Maharmit), R. Ephraim Navon (Mahaneh Ephraim); and R. Nisson Gabbai (Pe’ah ha-Negev). The title page enumerates the contents and notes that Kiryat Arba’ah also includes an enumeration of the mizvot from the Halakhah ha-Gedolah, Rambam, Semag, and Semak. The title page is dated as 8 Sivan 5636 (Wednesday, May 16, 1876) or with the verse, “This is the gate of the L-rd, into which the righteous shall enter” (Psalms 119:20). There is an approbation from R. Abraham Ashkenazi. The text, in two columns in rabbinic type, follows. There are head and tail-pieces in the volume, the former a depiction of Ma’areh Machpelah below the approbation, the latter on the final two pages, of Bet El and of burial places of the zaddikim.
R. Joseph ben Solomon Colon, (Maharik, c. 1420–1480) was an Italian halakhist. In his early youth he left France, where he was born, and led the life of a wanderer, gaining a livelihood by teaching children. In 1462 he headed a yeshivah in Seville. He held rabbinical positions in Pieve di Sacco, Mestre (before 1467), Bologna, and Mantua (apparently from 1467). In Mantua he and R. Judah b. Jehiel Messer Leon became involved in a dispute, as a result of which they were banished by the authorities. R. Colon afterward became rabbi of Pavia, making it the center of talmudic learning in Italy. Scholars in Germany, Turkey, and Italy sought his decisions on Jewish law. After his death his responsa were collected and have since been frequently reprinted and published (Venice, 1519 etc.). His decisions had great influence on later Italian halakhah, and there is scarcely an Italian rabbi of the 16th and 17th century who does not quote him. In the responsa he endeavored not only to decide the case but also to lay down general principles according to which related cases could be decided. Possessed of a wide knowledge of rabbinic literature, great critical insight, independence of thought, and a strong sense of justice, he spoke out courageously against many decisions that were widely accepted at that time.
R. Joseph ben Moses Trani (Maharmit, 1568–1639), was born in Safed, the youngest son of R. Moses b. Joseph Trani. At the age of 12 his father died, and R. Trani was taken into the home of R. Solomon Sagis, a Safed scholar, and became his pupil. In 1587, when R. Sagis died, Trani went to Egypt, where he attracted many pupils. After a short time he returned to Safed where he founded and taught in a yeshivah. Following the outbreak of a plague in Safed (1594), he went to Jerusalem, where he did research on the design and plan of the Temple. The resulting work, Zurat ha-Bayit, was lost, but many fragments and quotations from it have been preserved in Derekh ha-Kodesh by Hayyim Alfandari (published in Maggid mi-Reshit, Constantinople, 1710). After some time R. Trani returned to Safed, where—as his father before him—he headed the Sephardi community. In 1599 he was sent by the Safed community to Constantinople, and in 1604 took up permanent residence there. R. Trani headed a large yeshivah in Constantinople which became a center of Torah for all Turkish Jewry and produced many of the great Turkish rabbis of the 17th century, including Hayyim b. Israel Benveniste. Trani was eventually elected chief rabbi of Turkey, in which office he introduced takkanot, established societies, and became renowned for his many charitable acts.
R. Ephraim ben Aaron Navon, (1677–1735) was born in Constantinople, and emigrated to Jerusalem about 1700, together with his father-in-law, R. Judah Ergas. He returned to Turkey in 1721 as an emissary of Jerusalem. On the termination of his mission there in 1723, he was appointed a dayyan in the bet din of R. Judah Rosanes in Constantinople, and later received the appointment of rabbi. While in Constantinople, he continued to concern himself with the amelioration of the material conditions of the Jewish community of Jerusalem. In 1738 his Mahaneh Efrayim appeared in Constantinople, containing responsa and novellae on the Talmud and the works of early halakhic authorities.