Luzzatto, Samuel David, 1800-1865

Alternative names
Birth 1800-08-22
Death 1865-09-29
Multiple languages, Italian, Hebrew

Biographical notes:


Samuel David Luzzatto (also known under the acronym of SHaDaL), an Italian Rabbi, poet, grammarian and scholar of Hebrew letters, was born in Trieste on August 22, 1800, and died in Padua on September 30, 1865. Luzzatto wrote his first Hebrew poem at the age of nine, and by 1815 he had composed thirty-seven poems (later included in the two volumes of Kinor na'im, Vienna 1825 and Padua 1879). His translation of the Ashkenazi prayer book into Italian appeared in 1821-22, and that of the Italian rite in 1829, the year in which he joined the faculty of the Collegio Rabbinico of Padua, where he remained until his death, teaching Bible, philology, philosophy, and Jewish history. Among his many works are a study of Targum Onkelos (Ohev ger, 1830), commentaries (in Hebrew and Italian) on the Pentateuch and haftarot (1871-76) and several other biblical books, as well as pioneering studies on the Hebrew language and on Hebrew liturgical poetry (piyyut), the groundbreaking introduction (Mavo) to the Italian Machzor (1856), and philosophical works (Mozne tzedeq: Vikuach 'al chokhmat ha-qabalah, 1852; Teologia morale israelitica, 1862; and Yesodei ha-torah, 1880). Luzzatto corresponded with virtually all the leading Jewish scholars of his day, including Isaac Samuel Reggio (1784-1855), Abraham Geiger (1810-1874), Leopold Zunz (1794-1886), Solomon Rapoport (1790-1867) and Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907). Circa four hundred of S. D. Luzzatto's letters were edited by his son Isaia, and published at the end of the 19th-century (Igrot shada"l, 1882-1894, and Pnine shada"l, 1883).

Isaia Luzzatto (Padua, September 27, 1836-November 7, 1898) was Samuel David Luzzatto's younger son. A lawyer active in his hometown, I. Luzzatto collected his father's works, to which he devoted several introductory publications, most notably Reshimat maamare shada"l... Catalogo ragionato degli scritti sparsi di Samuele Davide Luzzatto (Padua 1881). In a letter to the Italian Jewish periodical, L'Educatore Israelita (vol. XIX/1871: 22), I. Luzzatto announced his intention to gather his father's massive correspondence, including all personal letters, and asked the readers to send him all available copies in their possession. A selection of these letters were published a decade later.

From the guide to the Samuel David Luzzatto and Isaia Luzzatto papers, 1812-1894, (The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life)


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  • Jews--Italy--Correspondence
  • Manuscripts, Hebrew


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