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LUZZATO, MOSES HAIM (1707-1746).

Scholar, mystic, poet, and dramatist. Born in Padua, Italy, Luzzato acquired great knowledge of the Talmud, as well as of classical and modern languages and literature. As a young man, he immersed himself in the study of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah. This preoccupation led him to believe that the secrets of the Torah had been revealed to him by an angel. The rabbis in Italy saw in his fantastic visions the dangerous possibility of a new Messianic movement. Still reeling from the Sabbatai Zevi tragedy, they prohibited Luzzato, under threat of excommunication, to study Kabbalah. Consequently, Luzzato moved to Amsterdam where he worked as a diamond polisher. In his spare time, he wrote poetry, as well as works of scholarship, mystic philosophy, and ethics. An innovator in Hebrew literature, Luzzato was particularly effective in his allegorical dramas. His classic style, use of symbolism, and ethical thinking exerted considerable influence.

In 1743, Luzzato settled in Safed, Palestine, the city of the mystics. A few years later he fell victim to a plague in Acre.

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