A Short Tribute

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.

 

Traditions of the Fathers
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Love of Israel
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Tzedakah and Healing
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Israel and the Nations
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in which he instructs that taking interest from a non-Jewish poor person is forbidden, for he is to be considered a sojourner, whom we are commanded to sustain

"…but you may deduct interest from loans to foreigners. Do not deduct interest from loans to your countrymen." A non-Jew residing in the Land of Israel is called a sojourner, we are commanded to sustain them; they are not considered idol-worshippers. Should a non-Jew, however, who comes and goes only for commerce - such as to buy grain to sell in other lands - wish to purchase and pay later, after their return…it is permissible to take interest from them, since they are earning a profit from commerce, in keeping with the laws among all nations – that the lender takes interest for the use of the money, which lay idle. "Do not deduct interest from loans to your countrymen". The people of Israel were not merchants, and worked the land for their livelihood, selling only surplus to foreigners. Borrowing was done only out of distress… But now that Jews deal in commerce, it seems permissible to deduct interest from them, but not from the poor. Similarly with the non-Jew, if they are involved in commerce, it is permissible to deduct interest from them, but if they are poor – it is forbidden to deduct interest from them, for their case is not similar to the one referred to in the Torah. They live among us and are therefore like the sojourner whom we are obliged to sustain; if the Torah has mercy on the sojourner living among us, it has all the more on the non-Jews among whom we are sojourners. But now that Jews deal in commerce, it seems permissible to deduct interest from them, but not from the poor. Similarly with the non-Jew, if they are engaged in commerce, it is permissible to deduct interest from them, but if they are poor – it is forbidden to deduct interest from them, for their case is not similar to the one referred to in the Torah. They live among us and are therefore like the sojourner whom we are obliged to sustain; if the Torah has mercy on the sojourner living among us, it has all the more on the non-Jews among whom we are sojourners.

Commentary on the Five Books of Torah, Ki Tezeh weekly reading portion, pp. 545-546, Jerusalem, 1993
Torah Study
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