Hacham Samuel David Luzatto

< Tammuz 5784 July 2024 >

A Short Tribute

Hacham Samuel David Luzatto, often referred to by the Hebrew acronym SHaDa"l, was born to Rebecca-Malkah and Hizkiya on 1 Elul, 5560 (1800) in Trieste, Italy. His two elder brothers had died as children, and his father rushed to have him begin his studies when he was only three years of age.

At the age of fourteen, in 1814, his mother died and he began working to contribute to his family's livelihood. He first worked in forestry, as did his father, but when he didn't succeed in this field, began to work for wealthy families as a private tutor.

In 1815 he began to study with Hacham Abraham Eliezer Halevy, Rabbi of Trieste. After two years, his teacher wished to ordain him as a rabbi, but Hacham Samuel David Luzatto refused, not wishing to interrupt his studies.

In 1821, at the request of the Austrian Kaiser who controlled the city, he translated the Siddur prayer book to Italian and had it printed.

In 1828 he began to teach in the Rabbinic Seminary in Padua, of which he eventually became director. In addition to his role, Hacham Samuel David Luzatto continued his study and research in grammar, literature, bibliography, linguistics and history.

In 1828, he married Bilhah-Bathsheba Sagra, and they had three sons and a daughter. Two of the sons and the daughter died over the coming years and, in 1841, his wife died. He remarried, to her sister Leah, and they had a daughter and two sons.

Hacham Samuel David Luzatto passed away on 9 Tishrei, 5625 (1865) and was buried in Padua.

His published work includes Kinor Na'im – a book of poetry, Ohev Ger – research and commentary on the Onkelos translation, Mehkar HaYahadut, Beit HaOtzar – articles on the Hebrew language, and HaMishtadel – a commentary on the Torah.


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