Luzzatto, Mose Chayim, Ben-jacob

Luzzatto, Mose Chayim, Ben-Jacob the great modern Jewish mystic of Italy, was born at Padua in 1707, and enjoyed the highest educational advantages the country of his birth could afford. WVhen a youth of only twenty, his extended studies in Hebrew literature, especially the cabalistic writings, secured for him a universal reputation. Had he known how to avoid mysticism, he might have proved one of the greatest ornaments of Judaism, but the Cabala (q.v.) led him astray, and he not only compiled a second Zohar (q.v.), but actually came to believe himself the predicted Messiah of his people. He was excommunicated, andi obliged to quit Italy. For a time he flourished in Amsterdam, and about 1744 he removed to the Holy Land. He died shortly after, at Safet, in May 1747, and was buried at Tiberias. Of his multifarious works twenty-four are yet unedited; twenty-eight have been published, comprising treatises in theology, dogmatic and cabalistical, philosophy, morals, and rhetoric, and a body of poetry, devotional, lyrical, and dramatic. His most important writings are cited in Etheridge, Introd. to Hebrews Literature, page 393. See also Griltz, Geschischte d. Juden, 10:369-383; and his biography in Kerem Chemed (1838), 3:113 sq. (J.H.W.)

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