Jewish Personalities

Ramchal — Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto

1. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, who is nicknamed “Ramchal” after an acronym of his name, was born in the city of Padua, Italy in 1707 to his father Rabbi Jacob Luzzatto, a Torah scholar and a fish merchant, and his mother Diamante.

2. Ramchal studied under Rabbi Isaiah Bassan, who was very fond of him, and taught him Talmud and Jewish law.

3. When Ramchal turned fifteen, Rabbi Bassan left Padua and accepted the rabbinate in the city of Reggio. As a result, Ramchal began to learn at home alone, and joined a group of young men called “Seekers of G-d” who engaged in the study of Kabbalah together.

4. Already in his youth, the Ramchal was famous for his exceptional talents. It is told that when he was fifteen years old, he knew the entire Talmud, the writings of the Ari and the Zohar by heart.

5. At the beginning of the month of Sivan (June) 1727, the Ramchal had a revelation from an angel which he called a “maggid”, who revealed to him secrets of Kabbalah.

6. The Ramchal’s unique talents, along with the divine revelations he was privy to, aroused suspicion. The damage caused to the Jewish people by Shabbtai Tzvi had not been forgotten, and because of that, some feared and opposed his Kabbalistic compositions.

7. With the time, the Ramchal moved to Amsterdam, and polished diamonds for a living. He printed there his books — “The Way of G-d” and “The Path of the Just”— books about Jewish ethics with a kabbalistic undertone.

8. His book “Path of the Just” with the time became a classic of Jewish ethics, particularly during the Mussar movement that prevailed in Lithuanian Torah academies (yeshivahs) at the end of the nineteenth century. The book was especially praised by Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna, the Vilna Gaon.

9. In his later years, the Ramchal immigrated to the Land of Israel, and settled in Acre near the port. On 26 Iyar (May) 1746, the Ramchal passed away, and was buried near the grave of Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias.

10. Despite his short life, the Ramchal left behind many essays on the esoteric parts of the Torah, and they are a guide to kabbalists until today. 

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