Messianic Mysticism

Moses Hayim Luzzatto and the Padua School

By Isaiah Tishby

Contributions by: Morris Hoffman

Moses Hayim Luzzatto (1707-1746), rabbi, mystic, teacher, poet, playwright, and writer of ethical works, gathered around him in Padua an inner circle who shared his belief in the imminent arrival of the messianic age. The rabbis of Venice and Frankfurt, however, considered him a heretic; he was obliged to withdraw a number of his works, and many were lost. Yet, those that survived established his reputation as a literary figure, a great kabbalist and profound mystic, and a great ethical teacher. Now available in paperback, the essays translated here are the product of Isaiah Tishby's long interest in Luzzatto and his group. Tishby's research led him to trace a number of the lost manuscripts, enabling him to correct and add detail to the picture of Luzzatto and his mystical world and also to clarify the messianic role for which the group believed certain of their members were destined under Luzzatto's leadership. One of the most illuminating documents translated here is Luzzatto's version of his ketubah or marriage contract. Luzzatto interspersed the phrases of the traditional contract with a mystical commentary in which he identified himself with the biblical Moses and interpreted his earthly marriage as a marriage with the Shekhinah. It was this marriage that would rescue her from exile among the forces of evil and clear the way for the final Redemption. A second key document included is the mystical diary that Luzzatto's second-in-command, Rabbi Moses David Valle, wrote in the margins of his own commentary on the Bible. The diary records the personal mystical visions and experiences, encouragements, and disappointments of the man whom Luzzatto's group considered the Messiah ben David. *** A rich resource for considering the at times ironic and often secret role that mystical and messianic discourse plays in Jewish religious, intellectual, and cultural history...the largest single resource for the study of Luzzatto in English. -- Hartley Lachter, H-Judaic

600 pages

Publication Date: 3/6/2014
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781906764579