Luzzatto, Samuel David
Luzzatto, Samuel David one of the most noted Jewish writers of our day, the Jehudah ha-Levi (q.v.) of the 19th century, was born at Trieste (Italy) in 1800, the scion of one of the most eminent Italian families. He received a thorough academical training, and early displayed great ability as a writer. Greatly interested in the study of the history and literature of his people, he became one of the most prominent writers in this field. Says Graitz (Gesch. d. Juden, 11:502), "If Krochmal and Rapaport were the fathers of Jewish history, Luzzatto must be acknowledged as her mother." He brought to light the most beautiful pages of Jewish history of the Franco-Spanish epoch — the tragical fate of the Jews in the persecutions of the Middle Ages and the reformatory period — which had been given up as lost; and thereby prepared the way for the labors of Kayserling, Sachs, Zunz, and others. Luzzatto also labored creditably in the department of O.-T. exegesis, and when the collegio rabbinico was opened at Padua in 1829, he became one of its professors, continuing in this service until his death in 1865. He wrote Hebrew, Italian, French, and German. His diction is graceful and exceedingly pleasant. His essays and treatises in this field appeared first in the "Bikkure Ittim," and afterwards (1841, etc.) in the "Kerem Chemed," published in Vienna and then in Prague by a man of great learning in Jewish literature, Samuel L. Goldenberg, of Tarnapol. One of his best works is his Dialogues, etc., on the Casbala, the Zohar, the antiquity of the vowel- points and accents of the Bible (1852), which shows the folly of the Cabala, the origin of the Zohar in the 13th century, and the vowel-points in the 5th, and the accents probably in the 6th. Luzzatto also published on Hebrew grammar, Prolegomena ad una gram. Hebr.; and later a complete Hebrew grammar, Oheb Guer (אוהב גר) ; a work on the Aramaic version of Onkelos (Vienna, 1830); an Italian version of Job (Livorno, 1844); French Notes on Isaiah (in Rosenmüller's version, Leips. 1834); Heb.
Notes on the Pentateuch (Vienna, 1850); and finally Isaiah, an Italian translation with an extensive Hebrew commentary (Vienna, 1850). See Grintz, Gesch. d. Juden, 11:499 sq.; Jost, Geschichte d. Judenthaums, 3:345 sq.; Maggid, 1864-1865; The Israelite (Cincinnati. Ohio), January 19, 1872. (J.H.W.)