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Jews in Italy

Rabbi Judah Moscato and the Jewish Intellectual World of Mantua in the 16th-17th Centuries by Giuseppe Veltri and Gianfranco Miletto (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) Judah ben Joseph Moscato (c.1533-1590) was one of the most distinguished rabbis, authors, and preachers of the Italian-Jewish Renaissance. This volume is a record of the proceedings of an international conference, organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), and Mantua's State Archives. It consists of contributions on Moscato and the intellectual world in Mantua during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Giuseppe Veltri, is Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and Director of the Zunz Centre (Halle). He has published widely in the subjects of hermeneutics and philosophy including Gegenwart der Tradition (2002), Cultural Intermediaries (2004 with D. Ruderman); Libraries, Translation and 'Canonic texts' (2006); The Jewish Body (2008, with M. Diemling); Renaissance Philosophy in Jewish Garb (2009); Judah Moscato's Sermons (2011).

Gianfranco Miletto is university private lecturer ("Privatdozent") at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. He has published on Biblical Philology and on the Jewish culture in Italy at the time of the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation: L' Antico Testamento Ebraico nella tradizione babilonese (1992); Die Heldenschilde des Abraham ben David Portaleone, 2 vols. (2003); Glauben und Wissen im Zeitalter der Reformation (2004); Judah Moscato's Sermons (2011).

Excerpt: Judah Moscato is a typical example of the Jewish intellectual who was influenced by the Italian Renaissance world. Confronted by the challenges of the new philosophical and humanistic knowledge, he did not reject it; rather, he strove to mediate between the secular culture and Jewish tradition. Even Moscato's opponents recognized his extensive knowledge and the quality of his cultural and moral leadership of the Jewish Mantuan community. Because of the forced conversion of some Mantuan Jews, Moscato was imprisoned and subjected to intense psychological pressure in order to obtain his conversion as well. Yet the Carmelite fathers who argued with him for many days were finally forced to resign. They considered him "to be such a sagacious man that he alone could sustain the whole Synagogue and disturb all the Jews who intend to come to our faith." As homo universalis, he combined in unique manner Jewish and Christian ideas, conceptions, and intellectual as well as scientific achievements: he was interested in natural science and Kabbalah and bridged the gap between Jewish tradition and the secular world.

However, Moscato is not an exception. During the Renaissance period, Mantua was one of the most important, prosperous, and lively centers of Jewish culture. Eminent and influential scholars such as Azariah de' Rossi, Moshe and Abraham Provenzali, Abraham Colorni, Joseph Colon, Mordecai Finzi, and Salomone de' Rossi lived and worked in Mantua. The importance of Mantua as a city of literacy, printed materials, and publishing houses was exceeded at that time only by Venice. So, for instance, the Nofet Sufim by Judah Messer Leon (1474/76) and the first edition of the Zohar (1558-60) were produced by the Mantua printing house of Abraham Conat. In this stimulating cultural environment, Moscato could develop his literary creativity.

Besides his two printed major works, the ample commentary on Judah Halevi's Sefer ha-Kuzari, called Qol Tehudah, "The voice of Yehudah", and the sermon collection Nefusot Yehudah ("The Dispersed of Judah"), Judah Moscato was the author of several responsa, sonnets, and liturgical poems that are still unpublished. His writings display his profound moral commitment and reveal his eclectic scholarship and wide knowledge of rabbinical and classical authors. Especially in the history of Jewish preaching, Judah Moscato occupies a unique position and he can be regarded "as the father of the modern Jewish Sermon." His Sermons clearly reveal and in a sense anticipate a Baroque taste for the dialectic method of Jewish exegesis. Moscato raised Jewish homiletics to a new rhetorical level. He treated theological and philosophical subjects with elaborate metaphorical concepts that make his language fascinating, yet at the same time also difficult even for a Baroque reader. In a letter to his teacher, R. Samuel Archivolti, Leone Modena compared the style of his own sermons with those of Moscato: "The sermon [i.e., Modena's] is amplified through associations made in accordance with the art of rhetoric. I have not seen any printed sermons that follow this path. The language also is intermediate between the language of [ Judah] Moscato, of blessed memory, which is so highly polished and stylized that many do not like it, and the language of most of the Levantine and Ashkenazic rabbis, which is much simpler."

Particularly in his sermons, Moscato expressed his moral commitment not only to inquiry and truth, but also to teaching them to others. As a preacher, Moscato performed a mediating function between tradition and innovation, mixing and combining every source of his sermons, from the rabbinic to classical and contemporary authors, from Neoplatonic philosophy to the kabbalistic tradition.' His main purpose was to teach and educate, giving aesthetic pleasure to his listeners in melodious tune with the Horatian principle of utility (prodesse)and delight (delectare).

Despite his fame, Moscato's life and writings have been little investigated. Leopold Zunz's Die gottesdienstlichen Vortreige der juden historisch entwickelt initiated scientific inquiry into Jewish homiletics and the rediscovery of Moscato's sermons. After Zunz's pioneering work, Israel Bettan, Marc Saperstein, and Moshe Idel dedicated some studies to Judah Moscato.' Alexander Altmann pointed out the importance of rhetoric in Moscato's works,' and recently Adam Shear has fitted Moscato into the humanistic context of the Italian Renaissance.' However, a detailed monograph about Moscato and the cultural back-ground that inspired his work has yet to be published. The only spe-cific bio-bibliographical study about Moscato remains the monograph published in 1900 by Abe Apfelbaum."

The present volume does not purport to correct this deficiency. It attempts only to highlight some salient features of Moscato's works and life within the social and cultural context of Mantua in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is all the more necessary because since Shlomo Simonsohn's Histog of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, no other study focused on the Jews of Mantua has appeared.

This volume is a record of the proceedings of an international conference, organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), where the project "Culture transfer in a new style: The Renaissance preacher, Judah Moscato (1533-1590)" is financed by the German Research Foundation (Bonn) and Mantua's State Archives. It took place in Mantua, Judah Moscato's hometown, in July 2009 and was financially supported by the Thyssen-Foundation (Cologne). The book is divided into two parts. The first is dedicated to the protagonist himself, his work and life; the second aims at a broader view and deals with the historical and cultural context of Renaissance Judaism.

In the first paper, Gianfranco Miletto presents some new documents recently discovered in the State Archives of Mantua. They not only contain important biographical information about Moscato himself, his family, and his environment, but also testify to Moscato's moral qualities. The reports that the castellano of Mantua, Luigi Olivo, sent daily to the duke's secretary during the imprisonment of Moscato show his firm character as a moral and religious leader who would rather die than deny his religion and his ethical principles. The correspondence of the duke's officials permits us to better understand the changed relationship between Jews and Christians at the time of the Counter-Reformation and sheds needed light on Duke Guglielmo's policies toward the Jews.

Giuseppe Veltri focuses on an important issue of Renaissance philosophical history in which Moscato was involved: skeptical thought. He offers a wide introduction to the Jewish tradition of skepticism from the Middle Ages to modem times and gives an extensive comparison of the conceptions of Judah Moscato and his later colleague in the nearby city of Venice, Rabbi Simone Luzzatto. In his sermon XVI, Moscato doubted the validity of the human sciences, preferring to combine science with the study of the Torah. Moscato belittled the importance of the sciences, but did not totally reject them. The main sin of the sciences is—according to the preacher--not to search for agreement with the Torah, although their claim is very similar to that of religion, but to attain the perfection of God.

A special genre of Moscato's sermons that has been hitherto mostly ignored is the eulogies he delivered at funerals. Marc Saperstein illustrates Moscato's exegetical method, examining the bibliographical information on the deceased and the rhetorical arrangement of the speech itself. Saperstein raises in particular the difficult question of the relationship between the rhetorical devices used in the printed Hebrew text and those in the eulogy as delivered in Italian. Saperstein's analy-sis points up Moscato's sincere emotions in the face of the loss through death of a great scholar, which remain apparent despite his substantial display of erudition and rhetorical emphasis.

One of the two major works of Moscato is the Qol Yehudah, a commentary on Judah Halevi's Sefer ha-Kuzari. Moshe Idel investigates the question as to why this particular book excited the interest of Moscato. It is very plausible that Moscato was attracted by the Platonic and esoteric features of Halevi's book, which fits well into Moscato's philosophical spirituality. Idel describes the function of the Kabbalah in Qol Yehudah and traces Moscato's intellectual development. The Rabbi was, according to Idel, much more interested in Kabbalah in his later work, but always maintained a philosophical approach to his kabbal-istic vision. As is the case with Azariah de' Rossi and Leone Mod-ena, much less evident in Moscato's commentary are the mythological aspects emanating from the Spanish Kabbalah, the Zoharic literature, and the unparalleled renascence of 16th-century Kabbalah in Safed. Moscato's kabbalistic conception was influenced by the Renaissance theory of prisca theologia, according to which there is more than one source of revelation—a vision that differs from the unilinear theory of prisca theologia that was en vogue among the Jews at the time. On this point, Moscato is much closer to Marsilio Ficino than to any other Jewish thinker.

Bernard Cooperman offers a study on Amicitia and Hermeticism as a paratext of Moscato's sermons. Moscato, who perfected the form of the Jewish sermon, transfigured its substance, and raised it to the level of a distinct literary art, also often quoted classical philosophers and included their thoughts in his sermons. Any sense of alienness produced by Moscato's references to Seneca and Aristotle would, Cooper-man suspects, have been assuaged by his clever biblical paraphrases. Moscato himself obviously saw the ancient traditions of Roman and hermetic wisdom as actually implicit in the Torah.

Comparing Moscato's sermons with Portaleone's encyclopedic description of Solomon's Temple, Andrew Berns describes the intense interest in natural philosophical topics in the Italian Jewish culture in the sixteenth century. The integration of modern natural philosophical knowledge into homiletic and religious works proves the intensity of the exchange between Italian Jewry and Renaissance culture. A good illustration of this can be seen in Leone de' Sommi's translation of the Psalms into Italian. De' Sommi tried to combine the lexical character of the Hebrew text with the Italian poetic tradition (see also below, on the contribution of Alessandro Guetta).

The Christian and Jewish sources in Qol Yehudah are very useful for understanding the cultural background of Moscato. Adam Shear's examination of Moscato's sources reveals a mixed environment in which printed books and manuscripts co-exist, especially for scholars, although non-elite book owners were definitely turning to the printed book in this era. As a member of a learned elite who was writing for his peers, Moscato did not stop—according to Shear—using manu-scripts or works only available in manuscript.

In the second part of the book, dedicated to Moscato's world of Renaissance Judaism, Daniela Ferrari reveals hidden treasures in the Gonzaga archives of Mantua, which are crucial for research into Jew-ish Studies. The archives produced by the Gonzagas, rulers of Mantua from 1328 to 1707, are one of the most complete and homogeneous collections on dynastic ruling families in Europe in the Early Modern period.

Don Harrán presents the history of the Levi dall'Arpa family, a gen-eration of Mantuan musicians well known outside the borders of the duchy. Daniel Levi dall'Arpa, for example, also worked for many years at the court of the Habsburgs in Vienna. But recognition as an artist did not always protect Jews in Mantua from persecution: Abramino dall'Arpa was forced to become a Christian, and Moscato was also involved in this forced conversion and imprisoned.

The social relationships between Jews and Christians are explored by Dana Katz on the basis of the image of the Jew in Christian art, especially the image of the Norsa Madonna in Santa Maria della Vittoria. She proves that those relations were not delineated as clearly as is often presented, and, in fact, changed quite often. According to Katz, the cartographic map of Mantua constitutes space as a topographical order of things that set down architectural borders within the broad domain of the countryside. Yet the Norsa Madonna reveals the alterity—the quality of "the other"—hidden within those borders and the complex consequences of its appropriated spaces.

The Jews of Mantua were not a uniform community. Claudia Rosen-zweig examines the cultural transfer from Germany to Italy. Mantua, home to one big and active Ashkenazi community, was a center for Yiddish culture in northern Italy. Here, thanks to contact with the Italian Renaissance, new literary genres were created. They had an influence on Yiddish literature until the twentieth century. Some of those texts were even written in Germany and brought to Italy.

The international importance of the Jewish community in Mantua is emphasized in Daniel Jütte's paper. He demonstrates the European connection on the basis of Abramo Colorni's (1544-1599) life and Maggino Gabrielli's trading company. As a court alchemist, Colorni was one of the main characters in the cultural transfer from Italy to Baden-Württemberg and Prague.

The meaning of magic, mysticism, and Kabbalah in the Italian culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a central topic of the paper delivered by Saverio Campanini. His lecture about the first printing of Sefer Yesirah (Mantua 1562) and its reception among Christian scholars also illustrates the frequent tensions in the relationship between Jews and Christians in Mantua.

Alessandro Guetta emphasizes a further aspect of Italian life in the Renaissance, namely translation, focusing on the Italian translation of the Psalms by Judah Sommo and its impact on the transfer of Jewish-Italian culture and discourse. He proves that the contribution of Jewish translators to the history of Italian literature and to the shaping of the Italian language was of incontrovertible significance; the translators belonged to two linguistic and cultural worlds. In a period in which any deviation from the mainstream was regarded with sus-picion, it is important to understand the intellectual history of early modern Italy.

Shlomo Simonsohn concludes the volume with a paper on research on Jewish culture in Mantua. He emphasizes the singular and most impressive contribution made by the Jewish community of Mantua—thanks to the diverse backgrounds of its members and its intense contact with Christian culture—in the arts, philosophy, and the natural sciences, across the boundaries of the Duchy of the Gongazas.

Judah Moscato Sermons: Edition and Translation, Volume One by Gianfranco Miletto and Giuseppe Veltri (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) Judah ben Joseph Moscato (c.1533–1590) was one of the most distinguished rabbis, authors, and preachers of the Italian-Jewish Renaissance. The book Sefer Nefusot Yehudah belongs to the very centre of his important homiletic and philosophical oeuvre. Composed in Mantua and published in Venice in 1589, the collection of 52 sermons addresses the subject of the Jewish festivals, focusing on philosophy, mysticism, sciences and rites. This and subsequent volumes will provide a critical edition of the original Hebrew text, accompanied by an English translation. All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Jewish philosophy, homiletics, philologists, theologians, and specialists of Hebraic and Italian culture.

Judah Moscato Sermons: Edition and Translation, Volume Two by Judah ben Joseph Moscato (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic)  see below

Gianfranco Miletto is university private lecturer (“Privatdozent”) at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. He has published on Biblical Philology and on the Jewish culture in Italy at the time of the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation: L’ Antico Testamento Ebraico nella tradizione babilonese (1992); Die Heldenschilde des Abraham ben David Portaleone, 2 vols. (2003); Glauben und Wissen im Zeitalter der Reformation (2004). 

Giuseppe Veltri, is Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and Director of the Zunz Centre (Halle). He has published widely in the subjects of hermeneutics and philosophy including Gegenwart der Tradition (2002), Cultural Intermediaries (2004 with D. Ruderman); Libraries, Translation and 'Canonic texts' (2006); The Jewish Body (2008, with M. Diemling); Renaissance Philosophy in Jewish Garb (2009)

Excerpt: The work of Judah ben Joseph Moscato (1532/33-159o), one of the most distinguished rabbis, authors, and preachers of the Jewish-Italian Renaissance, attests to the multifarious impact that Italian Judaism had upon developments in intellectual history. Moscato should be regarded as a crucial figure in the process of reciprocal interaction between Jewish and Christian ideas; this was facilitated by his affinities to Neoplatonic and Pythagorean thought. In addition, his work is an outstanding example of the way in which Italian culture often shaped interpretations of Kabbalah, beginning with its arrival from Spain or from the Ottoman Empire. As a rabbi, Moscato represented the Jewish tradition and observed Jewish law, but due to his tremendous classical and secular knowledge, he was always considered to be a homo universalis (hakham kolel). Indeed, Moscato's works evince his permanent struggle to bridge the tension between the Jewish tradition and the secular world, and his twofold education already fascinated his contemporaries: Moscato's works were appreciated not only by Jewish scholars such as Abraham ben David Portaleone, Judah del Bene, and Moses Provenzali, but also by various Christian authors. Thus, Moscato was one of the Jewish sources that Athanasius Kircher drew on for his Musurgia Universalis.

Although scholars consider Judah Moscato to be a distinctive representative of Jewish culture in Renaissance Italy, very few aspects of his sermons have been critically examined. Leopold Zunz's study Die gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Juden, historisch entwickelt (1832) marks the beginning of the scholarly preoccupation with Jewish homiletics, as well as the moment of Moscato's rediscovery. This pioneering work of Zunz laid the groundwork for later examinations, which were undertaken by Abraham Apfelbaum, Israel Bettan, Marc Saperstein, and Moshe Idel. Alexander Altmann has pointed out the importance of rhetoric within Moscato's work, and Adam Shear has begun the critical endeavor of positioning Moscato within the humanistic context of Renaissance Italy. In editing and translating his work, we aim to do justice to Moscato and to further demonstrate his importance for Jewish philosophy and cultural history, as well as for the general Italian Renaissance.

Two works by Moscato have been published: his collection of sermons, entitled Nefusot Yehudah (Venice: Giovanni di Gara, 1589) and his well-known commentary on Judah Halevi's Sefer ha-Kuzari, entitled Qol Yehudah (Venice: Giovanni di Gara, 1594). His collection of sermons is undoubtedly the rarer of the two works. After the publication of the first edition by Giovanni di Gara, it was printed again in 1859 in Lvov (Lemberg in German) by Kornel Piller, in 1871 in Warsaw by Isaac Goldmann (reprinted by Achim Goldenberg, Brooklyn, 1992), and in 2000 in Bnei Brak by Sifre Qodesh Mishor. Most of these editions are old and not easily available, and only a few copies of the modern editions have been printed. Furthermore, they do not always faithfully reproduce the text of the first edition of Venice.

The present edition reproduces the text of the edition published by Giovanni di Gara in 1589, with only slight changes. Moscato's corrections to the first edition, which appeared at the end of the book, have been silently incorporated into the text. The readings that are evidently erroneous but not corrected by Moscato have been enclosed in brackets { }, and the correct reading has been inserted in square brackets [ 1. Page numbers of the Venetian edition have been placed in square brackets; the letters a and b in the translation, and x and in the Hebrew text, indicate respectively the recto and verso of each page. Each sentence has been numbered in order to facilitate comparison of the English translation and the Hebrew text. The edition published by Sifre Qodesh Mishor has been consulted, especially for its references to quoted sources. The introductory narrative (fol. 39, the contents (luah ha-derushim, fols. 3b-79, and the tables of biblical and Talmudic quotations (fols. 7b-102) and biblical pericopes (fols. 10b-14b, the first pagination of the introduction),' have not been included in this edition and have not been translated.

The English translation tries to render the Hebrew text as faithfully as possible. Long quotations of other authors by Moscato have been reproduced in a smaller typeface, while short quotations are enclosed in quotation marks. For this reason, the expression in /17 which indicates the end of a quotation has not been translated.

This edition, including the translation of the first ten sermons, would not have been possible without the cooperation of many scholars, to all of whom the editors are deeply indebted. Ramona Wollner prepared the Hebrew edition, which has been checked, corrected, and standardized by Giacomo Corazzol and Regina Grundmann. Don Harrán edited, translated, and annotated the first sermon. Aleida Paudice (sermon 2), Elke Morlok (sermons 6, 7, 8 and 9), and Rebekka Vob (3, 5) were involved in the first phase of the translation, which has been totally revised and completed by Giacomo Corazzol, Regina Grundmann, and Brian Ogren. Roni Weinstein assisted in transcribing the Hebrew documents of the introduction. Adam Shear monitored the translation process, giving precious advice on translation and commentary.

It is our intention within this introduction to the first volume of the edition and translation of the sermons of Rabbi Judah ben Joseph Moscato of Mantua to present the reader with hitherto unknown aspects of his biography, derived from documents recently discovered in the archives of Mantua.' We will also outline some of the general features of the collection of sermons that we are editing and translating. An examination of Moscato's novelty within Renaissance culture and scholarship, as well as an analysis of his concepts, reception, and innovation, will be the task of the last volume of our project; at that point, the whole of Moscato's preaching will be available to the reader.

Recently discovered documents housed in the State Archives of Mantua and in the Archives of the Jewish Community of Mantua provide astonishing and previously unknown information concerning Moscato's life, personality, and career as a rabbi. Despite his literary fame, the biographical data about Judah Moscato are fragmentary and uncertain. Until recently, even the dates of his birth and death were unknown. This lacuna has been filled by the recent discovery of his death certificate in the State Archives of Mantua, which also indicates his date of birth. According to the death certificate, Moscato died in Mantua on September 20, 159o, at the age of 57.2 He was therefore born in 1532 or 1533.

When Moscato died, he was the ordained rabbi of the Jewish community of Mantua; nevertheless, he was not a native of that city. He was born in Osimo, a small town in the province of Ancona, in the Marche region of central Italy. It is uncertain when he went to Mantua. Moscato dedicated his book of sermons, Nefusot Yehudah, to his brother-in-law R. Samuel ben Joshua Minzi Berettaro. This dedication was an expression of gratitude for the latter's having given Moscato shelter in his house when he came to Mantua as a fugitive. According to Abe Apfelbaum, Moscato's reference to his fugitive status alludes to the persecutions of the Jews of Ancona and of the Marche region, which happened between 1554 and 1558, during the reign of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559).3 Shlomo Simonsohn disagrees, and maintains that Moscato's words refer to the expulsion of the Jews from all of the Papal States except Rome and Ancona. This expulsion was decreed by Pope Pius V (1566-1572) on February 26, 1569, in the bull Hebraeorum gens sola.4 There are no documents in the State Archives of Mantua that support either of these hypotheses. It is probable that Moscato settled in Mantua during the reign of Pope Paul IV, because by around 157o, Moscato was already an outstanding personality in the Mantuan Jewish community.

In 1581 Gregory XIII (1572-1585) issued two bulls concerning the Jews: in Alias piae memoriae of May 3o, Jewish physicians were prohibited from attending to Christians; in Antigua Iudaeorum improbitas of July 1, the pope submitted the Jews to the Inquisition in all cases of blasphemy and offense against the church. Such offenses included the protection of marranos and heretics, the possession of forbidden books, and the employment of Christian servants. The bulls were in full force in the Papal States, and the pope urged the implementation of these anti-Jewish instructions in all Catholic countries. The Jews, however, vehemently appealed to their rulers against these papal ordinances. In Mantua, Duke Guglielmo I Gonzaga (1550-1587), though a strictly observant Catholic, wanted to defend his autonomy from papal interference and initially blocked the publication of the bulls. In addition to the political aims of the duke, there were also practical reasons for not carrying out the papal enactments in Mantua. For example, the prohibition of Jewish physicians tending to Christians would have left whole communities without medical care. This prohibition was not new,5 and already in 1576, when Duke Guglielmo tried to enforce the papal laws against Jewish physicians that were reconfirmed by the bull Romanus Pontifex (April 19, 1566) of Pope Pius V, protests had occurred in the country. Indeed, in 1577, the senior priest of the village of Sermide in the district of Mantua, four other local clerics, the official in charge of the neighboring village Carbonara Po, and nineteen prominent residents of Sermide requested that Duke Guglielmo allow the Jewish physician Abraham Portaleone and his son Leone (Judah) to continue practicing medicine, as they had done until then, for the benefit of the whole community. In the end, the duke had no choice but to grant this request.

In 1581, several petitions against the publication of the papal bulls in general, or requests for specific exemptions from them, were addressed to the duke.' In this case as well, Duke Guglielmo granted the request and prohibited the bishop from publishing the bulls. The bishop of Mantua, Marco Fedeli Gonzaga, took note of the prohibition and asked the secretary of the duke, Aurelio Zibramonti, how he could justify the suppression of the bulls to Rome.' Notwithstanding this prohibition, the bishop pressed for the bulls to be published, at least in the cathedral; the bishop of Ferrara had done the same. In a letter to Aurelio Zibramonti written on August 1o,1581, the bishop maintained that it was impossible for him to disobey the orders of the pope. On the part of the duke, he had ordered the Jewish community to provide evidence that other princes had not enforced the restrictive ecclesiastical enactments within their domains. This was a ploy to justify his refusal to carry out the bulls to the Holy See. The Mantuan Jews took this task upon themselves and speedily satisfied the wish of the duke. On July 24, 1581, a letter signed by "Leon de Moscati Hebreo" and "Leon da Pisa Hebreo" was sent to the duke with the requested documentation. They had carried out the orders of the duke and asked several Jewish communities how their princes had responded to the papal bulls against the Jews. From Ferrara, Cremona, and Parma, the answers came with documentary proof. Copies of these documents were enclosed with the letter from Moscato and da Pisa; they kept the originals, which they offered to show to the duke. In the letter, Moscato and da Pisa noted that further replies from other locales were expected and would be either be forwarded from Mantua or sent directly from those locales. The Jews of these states had already been informed, according to Moscato and da Pisa, to send all necessary information as quickly as possible.

This letter is not addressed, and the name of the recipient is missing. Nevertheless, it can be conjectured that the letter was intended for Pompeo Strozzi, the ambassador of Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga to the Holy See. This conjecture stems from a second letter that Moscato, also in the name of da Pisa, sent to Strozzi three days later, on July 27, 1581. In this letter, Moscato refers to the two packets of information from Ferrara, Cremona, Venice, and Parma that had been sent with the former letter. Moscato mentions learning that in Ferrara, the bulls had been published "in some isolated places" without the permission of the duke, and he felt that it was proper to warn him."

In July of 1581, the Mantuan ambassador to Rome received instructions from the secretary of Duke Guglielmo to explain to the Holy See the nonenforcement of the bulls. In order to support the diplomatic activity of the ambassador, Aurelio Zibramonti sent a letter to him on July 25 that confirmed what Moscato and da Pisa had already reported. In addition, the Mantuan ambassador to Venice, Pace Moro, stated that the patriarch would not publish the bulls without the permission of the Venetian government.

On August 4, 1581, "Abramo Baroco, Ebreo levantino" wrote from Florence to Pompeo Strozzi, having been asked by "messer Leone Moscato" and "messer Leone da Pisa" to inform Strozzi about the attitude of the granduca towards the question of the papal bulls. He attested that the bulls had not been published in Florence, and moreover would not be published, because the granduca had once again confirmed the privileges granted to the Jews in his state."

Within these letters, Moscato and da Pisa are only referred to as "messer"; nothing is said about their function as representatives of the Jewish community. Judah (Leone) da Pisa was a wealthy banker and often acted as a spokesman for the community." Moscato's position is hard to determine. Was he already at this time the appointed rabbi of the community, or had he signed the letters only because he was a renowned scholar?

In his work Me'or 'Enayim, which was written between 1571 and 1572, the sixty-year-old Azariah dei Rossi (1511?-1577?) expressed high regard for Moscato, even though the latter was twenty years younger. Indeed, Azariah called Moscato "the great Mantuan Rabbi," and between 1573 and 1574, Moscato was deeply involved in a dispute concerning dei Rossi's Me'or 'Enayim, in which he supported and defended dei Rossi against his antagonists. In 1577, Moscato acted as an arbitrator, together with R. Gershon ha-Kohen Porto, in a legal affair concerning the bankers Abraham ben Hananiah dei Galicchi Jagel and Samuel Almagiati.

Sermon One: Sounds for Contemplation on a Lyre

Sermon I is a paean to music, understood in its most inclusive sense as harmony. It begins with an enigmatic Midrash about a kinnor (lyre) that, hanging over David's bed, is blown by the north wind at midnight, whereupon it plays of itself; David then rises and studies Torah until the break of day (I: 4). The rest of the sermon explains the Midrash, its relevance to the day on which it was pronounced (Simhat Torah), and its implications for Jewish observance. It first establishes the mathematical basis of music as a science for measuring intervals: consonances are defined by their harmonic ratios. The science of music was thought to have been introduced by the Greeks, though wrongly so: the Hebrews were its inventors (I: 5-14). God is the perfect embodiment of music in His essence, as reflected in His creation of all heavenly bodies and creatures: the nine spheres resonate with music and the angels intone their songs (I: 1544). The Holy Name (YHWH) encompasses the principal consonances: octave, fifth, fourth, third, and their compounds (I: 45-55). Man, created in the image of his Maker, is ordered in intervallic ratios: harmony is implanted in his soul, which, attracted to song, reacts to it by producing a song of its own (I: 56-84). He is likened, in his musical construction, to a kinnor, yet for his potential kinnor to play properly, i.e., to actuate the music in his soul, he must pursue a path of righteousness: hearkening to a divine instrument, he responds by duplicating its pitches (I: 85-9o). The original Midrash is now reinterpreted (and its different versions in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud compared): David's body and soul were built in harmonic ratios, his mind was awakened by the sounds of his kinnor when the north wind blew upon it at midnight, at which time, "sailing forth upon lofty speculations," he played on his kinnor by deepening his knowledge of Torah (I: 91-113). Because the Midrash was not easily applied, God provided a consummate example of harmony for all to emulate: Moses. His name pertains to music (via the muses and other correspondences in its etymology); he was ever in tune with the divine spirit; he composed a perfect song—Torah, or belief—that succeeds the seven liberal arts as the eighth and highest science (I: 114-131). Torah relates to Shemini Aseret (The Eighth Day of Convocation) and Simhat Torah (Rejoicing in the Law), marking the completion and renewal of its readings; it relates to song, for just as Torah is perfection, so is the octave (or "eighth") in music; it relates to circumcision, for on the eighth day after birth the newborn male enters thereby into the faith (I: 132-142). Though all should strive to be like Moses, clearly none can reach his perfection, nor is anyone expected to; rather people are measured by the degree to which they exert themselves to observe his laws (I: 143-164). Because humans are fallible, David offers a more reasonable example: he repaired his sins by endeavoring to walk on "an upright path," whereby, in time, his kinnor, as stated in the Midrash, played of itself (165-174). That God's "laws [Torah] had become songs to [him]"' can be illustrated by his book of Psalms, especially the last one, where, in each verse, David renders praises to God through song, as should the people of Israel after his example (I: 175-186). The movements of the spheres correspond to those of the soul (one toward essences, the other toward their incorporation in matter); the seven terms for song2 correspond to the seven sciences, though the eighth term ("cymbals for jubilation") designates belief, or Torah, as the eighth science (I: 187-204). With the coming of the Messiah, the world will become perfect in its harmonies: a new song will be sung when the Jews are released from suffering and subordination (I: 205-211).

Sermon Two: Song of Ascents of David

This sermon elaborates on a passage from Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 68: 11, which states that during the years that Jacob spent in the house of Laban, he would recite David's fifteen Songs of Ascents.' It also elaborates on another passage from the same Midrash, in which the first verses of the second Song of Ascents are interpreted as hinting at Jacob and his oppressors, i.e., Esau and Laban.4 Moscato aims at demonstrating that in writing these psalms, David followed and epitomized the events of Jacob's life step by step, from the moment he fled from his brother Esau' until

the moment he came back to his father.6 According to Moscato, because of the fact that this part of Jacob's life represents a prefiguration of the wandering and sufferings later experienced by Israel, these psalms are meant to be a summary of the main notions and teachings concerning Israel's exile. Thus, David called these compositions shir ha-ma'alot, i.e., Songs of "ascents:' "degrees:' "steps:' or "rungs:' following the hint provided by the ladder that was seen by Jacob in a nocturnal vision in Bet El. Indeed, Moscato deems Jacob's ladder to be an allusion to the rise and fall of the four empires that will have existed prior to Israel's final redemption; this is in line with the interpretations put forward by Nachmanides and Obadiah Sforno. Moreover, according to Moscato, the number of psalms dedicated by David to this theme, namely fifteen, hints at the name Yah, whose numerical value is fifteen; this is an epithet of the tenth sefirah, the Divine Presence, which is bound to protect and to watch over Israel during its exile. A summary of the events of chapters 28-35 of Genesis ensues, which is followed by a detailed commentary on the fifteen Psalms of Ascents. The correspondences between the events related in those chapters in Genesis and Psalms 120-134 are pinpointed.

The third section of the sermon demonstrates that David did not include any references to the episode of Jacob and Rachel at the well within his Songs of Ascents, in order to let his son Solomon elaborate upon it. By doing so, Solomon could redress his youthful sins, which involved relationships with foreign women. This assumption is based on a kabbalistic interpretation, according to which the three herds that were seen by Jacob around the well represent Israel, or more accurately, the three "Israels" that were brought into exile at different times. According to this interpretation, the well represents the vitalizing power of the tenth sefirah, and the stone that seals the well represents the interruption of the benign influx of God upon Israel; this interruption leads to the pain of exile. According to Moscato, the kiss between Jacob and Rachel' alludes to the final redemption. At this point, the sixth sefirah (hinted at by Jacob) and the tenth sefirah (hinted at by Rachel) shall reunite in a sefirotic reunion; this is also the kabbalistic meaning usually attributed to the Song of Songs. In particular, Moscato bases himself on the authority of the zoharic Midrash on Song of Songs, and points out a parallel between the kiss spoken of in Genesis 29: 11 and the kisses of the Song of Songs 1: 2 (Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for thy love is better than

wine). Both of these verses, he points out, are composed of seven words. In the last paragraph, Moscato explains the reasons for the particular holiness of Solomon's Song of Songs, which Moscato characterizes as the holiest of all songs and which is therefore also holier, in his opinion, than all of the fifteen Songs of Ascents.

Sermon Three: Fearful in Praises

This sermon is a treatise about the attributes of God. Basing himself upon negative theology, Moscato believes that human beings cannot describe the essence of God. Whatever attributes man might ascribe to God are insufficient and ultimately false. Human beings can only speak about God from their point of view as finite creatures. God, however, as the untreated Creator of the All, is separate from the physical universe and thus exists outside of the realms of space and time. God is therefore absolutely different from everything else and is, in consequence, totally unknowable. Moscato agrees with Joseph Albo that all attributes of God are infinite in perfection and importance, and in time and number. However, as Maimonides and Albo had already explained before Moscato, the unlimited plurality of God's attributes does not entail plurality in God's essence. Indeed, all attributes are nothing but the intellectual observations of man, and all of them are unified in Him, as He is truly "One" and is Absolute Simplicity.

As Ecclesiastes 5: 1 says: For God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. According to Moscato, this verse means to say that man cannot make any direct statements about God. Nevertheless, it is possible to describe God indirectly and to specify what He is not; this is in line with the via negativa, which allows for the attribution of "negative attributes" in relation to the divine. Through God's interaction with creation, man can acknowledge His gracious providence towards his creatures. For this reason, Moses and the men of the Great Assembly permitted the praise of God with three attributes: Great, Mighty, and Awesome. This was in order to teach that He is the source and origin of all perfections, which ultimately emanate from Him. Indeed, according to Moscato, these three predicates are superior categories and include all perfections, which are all contained in knowledge, power, and will.

Sermon Four: A Remembrance for the Work of Creation

This sermon discusses the tenet according to which God created the world anew, from complete nothingness and through a simple act of His will. According to Moscato, this idea informs the whole of Psalm 19: 3 and is to be found in nuce in verses 89-90 of Psalm 119. He claims that it can also be evinced from Exodus 12: 39, which tells of Israel's abrupt flight from Egypt and of the commandment to eat masah.

The sermon opens with a rabbinic interpretation of Psalm 19: 2: "The heavens declare the glory of God" According to this interpretation, only those who live close to a king can properly speak of his actual wealth; similarly, only the heavens can truly reveal the full glory of God. This Midrash provides the starting point for Moscato's discussions in the second part of this sermon. Moscato uses Exodus 12: 39 to claim that in order to know something, one must know its causes. He points out that masah has all of the four causes, i.e., the material cause (the masah itself), the formal cause (the allegorical sense inherent in the masah), the efficient cause (which is twofold: the Lord and the Israelites) and the final cause (which is twofold as well: the performance of the commandment by the Israelites and the final redemption wrought by the Lord). Although Moscato states that he shall concentrate on the formal cause, he touches upon all of the mentioned issues. Moscato argues against some of the interpreters who preceded him by introducing two objections: The first is that if the prohibition to eat leaven and the obligation to eat masah are two sides of the same coin, as previous interpreters have maintained, then it does not make sense that the first is to be observed for seven days, whereas the second is to be observed only on the first night. The second is that if the only reason for the commandment is the hurriedness with which the Israelites were compelled to flee, then it does not make sense that God would warn them not to eat leaven for seven days.

In order to solve these contradictions, Moscato first recalls Nachmanides' opinion that the preparation of masah was a direct consequence of the prohibition to eat leaven. Indeed, Moscato argues, since the yeast to make the dough rise is usually taken from the dough produced in the preceding days, the prohibition of leaven is aimed at representing a symbolic break from the past. This symbolic break itself symbolizes God's novel creation of the world, which is the reason why the commandment of the masah is confined to the first day of Passover, while the prohibition of leaven lasts for seven days; these seven days are indicative of the seven days of creation.

Moscato then turns to a different symbol, the lamb. Inasmuch as the lamb hints at the constellation of Aries, which was predominant at the time of year when the exodus took place, the sacrifice of the lamb represents God's prevalence over the power of the planets and the constellations. Thanks to God's mercy, Israel, who had not yet been given the Torah and was therefore devoid of merits (apart from the fulfillment of the commandments of circumcision and of the sacrifice of the paschal lamb) was saved from its own captivity.

Moscato proceeds by presenting two passages of the Midrash as allegories of the miraculous timeliness with which God saved Israel, and the subsequent astonishment of the Egyptians. The second passage is used to show that in order to save Israel, God actually subverted the ongoing disposition of the constellations and their powers. In turn, these miracles testify to God's creation out of his own will. Thus, according to Moscato, the final part of the Decalogue stipulates the belief in this fundamental tenet. It suggests that God brought Israel out of Egypt in order to give them the Torah (the first final cause).

Moscato then treats the different kinds of praises addressed to the Lord: those given by the common people, those given by the philosophers, and those of the prophets. Each of these types attains a higher degree of subservience and self-effacement than the one preceding it.

Moscato next proceeds to explain that in order for God to save Israel, the latter had to fulfill at least some of the commandments. These are represented by the circumcision and the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, both of which entail the spilling of blood. On the basis of the "two bloods" mentioned in Ezekiel 16: 6, Moscato draws a parallel between the blood (dam) spilled during the ceremony of circumcision in order to be redeemed, and the money (damim) that the members of a community must give in order to redeem their coreligionists.

But how many times shall Israel be enslaved and saved? With the help of the masorah, Moscato points out the biblical verses9 that hint at the three captivities of Israel: in Egypt, in Babylon, and lastly, among the nations. Salvation from the third of these will coincide with the final redemption (the second final cause).

The second part of the sermon is largely devoted to an elucidation of Psalm 19. Moscato first uses the interpretive method of acronyms to show how this Psalm alludes to the tenet of novel creation: indeed, as he points out, the opening words of this Psalm and the opening words of Genesis both allude to the word "truth" (emet). Since the tenet of novel creation is one of the principal hinges of the true faith, Moscato continues, the word "truth" is itself a hint at this dogma.

Nevertheless, the Psalm's allusion to novel creation is also evident through speculative analysis. Moscato aims at demonstrating, on mathematical grounds, the idea that the world was created anew because of God's will. Indeed, according to Moscato, verses 2-6 of the Psalm allude to the fact that it is impossible for the universe to have infinite dimensions, inasmuch as a body that moves in a circular motion must necessarily be finite.

The second part of the Psalm is interpreted as an explanation of the main qualities and characteristics of the Torah. According to Moscato, the proof of the Torah's truth is provided by the senses, by the intellect, and by tradition, and thus its truth can be grasped by all kinds of men. The sermon closes with a short explanation of Psalm 119: 89-9o.

Sermon Five: Scroll of Orders

The fifth sermon focuses on the relationship between the order of the Torah and the philosophical or rhetorical orders. Joseph Albo's Sefer ha-lqqarim, Maimonides' Moreh Nevukhim, and Aristotle's De Anima, Physica, and Topica serve as the main philosophical sources for Moscato. In addition to these philosophical sources, he also refers in this sermon to rhetorical works, such as Galen's Ars Parva, Cicero's Partitiones Oratoriae, and Agricola's De Inventione Dialectica.

Moscato demonstrates that the three Orders—the Natural Order (ordo naturalis), the Order of Free Will (liberum arbitrium), and the Artifical Order (ordo artificialis)—are not only included in the gemara, but are also followed by the Torah. These three Orders correspond to the three Orders of Teaching (methodi)—Analysis (resolutio), Synthesis (compositio), and Definition (definitio)—which are deduced from biblical and rabbinic sources as well. The resolutio represents the Natural Order, the compositio is compared to the Artifical Order, and the definitio represents the Order of Free Will. Each of these Orders is discussed in regard to the teaching and study of knowledge and wisdom. Moscato also argues that the four parts of rhetorical speech can be found in the gemara, and he relates these parts to the three names attributed to the angel: Pisqon corresponds to the propositio, including the exordium; Itamon corresponds to the

argumentatio; and Sigaron corresponds to the conclusio. The Law of God
is perfect and represents a marvelous order, since all of these orders are

prefigured in the Torah.

Sermon Six: Things Whose Creation Preceded the World

This sermon aims at overcoming the apparent discrepancies found in rabbinic literature concerning the number and nature of things that were brought forth prior to the creation of the world. The majority of rabbinic sources name seven items,'° but in Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 1: 4, reference is made to only six creatures. Moreover, whereas all sources agree concerning the preliminary creation of the Torah, the Throne of Glory, the Sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah, some also include Repentance, the Garden of Eden, and Gehinnom, while others ignore these in favor of the Patriarchs and Israel.

Moscato explains these discrepancies on the basis of the fact that man's capability to understand and to grasp divine things differs from one individual to the other. In order to demonstrate that all nine of the things mentioned in the sources were brought forth prior to creation (whether in act or in potency), Moscato describes the specific role that each of these things played in creation and in the arrangement and history of the universe. Throughout, he stresses the interconnection between all of these elements. According to Moscato, the first things created were the Torah and the Throne of the Glory. The Torah is "the flame bursting from the spark of the Lord's infinite wisdom," a flame whose light was destined for the Patriarchs and Israel, by means of whom the world is kept in existence. Indeed, it is through the Patriarchs that the notion of the existence of God and of divine wisdom are spread throughout the world. According to Moscato, the Sanctuary represents the initial place chosen by the Lord as a place at which Israel might seek Him. Nevertheless, this was not sufficient, and since man is bound to sin and to stray from the path of the Law, the Lord set Repentance as the remedy, the Garden of Eden as the reward, and Gehinnom as the punishment for man's transgressions. Due to man's tendency, God also decreed that Israel should go into exile in order for it to be rescued and redeemed by the Messiah; for this reason, the latter's name is mentioned in rabbinic literature as an entity that was in existence before the creation of the world. Of the sources, only Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 1: 4 makes the distinction between those things that were created in act (the Torah and the Throne of Glory) and those that were created in potential. Moscato claims that this discrepancy does not represent a contradiction, as the verb "to create" encompasses both notions without distinction. In the last part of the sermon, Moscato points out that in Proverbs 8: 22-31, Solomon himself hinted at the nine things created before Creation.

Sermon Seven: The Power of Torah in the Creation of the World

In this sermon, Moscato endeavors to account for the explanation of Proverbs 8: 3o (Then I was by Him, as one brought up [Hebrew amon] with him), which is given in the opening paragraph of Midrash Bereshit Rabbah. There, the word amon, although ultimately identified with the Torah, is interpreted in accord with its various vocalizations and permutations to mean "tutor:' "covered:' "concealed:' "great:' and "craftsman:' In this context, Moscato identifies the Torah with the "cause" at the origin of the cosmos, due to the fact that it is the model that God followed in creating and shaping the universe. According to Moscato, the different translations of the term amon accord with the six different kinds of "cause" pointed out by Plato, namely, the agent, the material, the formal, the final, the instrumental, and the rational. The sixth of these is hinted at by the words of the Midrash, which state that "the architect, moreover, does not build it out of his head, but employs parchments:' The parallel between the Torah and Plato's six causes is soon abandoned by Moscato in favor of Aristotle's theory of the four causes. In order to substantiate his interpretation, Moscato bases himself on the identity of "Torah" with "truth:' as outlined in Malachi 2: 6. He states that a proof for his interpretation is to be found in the word "desirest" (hafasta) in Psalms 51: 6: "Behold, thou desirest [hafa.sta] truth:' This word is an acronym of the words "matter" (homer, material cause), "agent" (po'el, agent cause), "form" (surah, formal cause), and "purpose" (takhlit, final cause). The second part of this sermon is intended to demonstrate that the first four interpretations of the term amon, i.e., "tutor:' "covered:' "concealed:' and "great:' also correspond to the fourfold theory of interpretation. In Moscato's view, the following series of equations can be drawn: Tutor—agent cause—literal sense (peshat); covered—material cause—allegorical sense (remez); concealed—formal cause—tropological (or moral) sense (derash); great—final cause—anagogical sense (sod). The sermon ends with a cautionary note that points out that although the innermost sense is fundamental, inasmuch as it enables one to effectively accomplish the commandments of the Torah, one may not discard any part or any sense of the Torah. In Moscato's opinion, the literal sense is just as important as the secret kabbalistic sense.

Sermon Eight: The Wrapping of Light in Order to Brighten the World

In this sermon, Moscato endeavors to clarify three rabbinic notions with the use of Platonic thought. The first of these notions is that God "wrapped Himself in a garment and brightened the whole world with His light."" The second is that the heavens were created "from the light of the Lord's garment." And the third is that the earth was created "from the snow that is under the Throne of the Glory."" Despite the puzzlement of previous commentators, according to Moscato, these three ideas become clear if interpreted in light of Platonic doctrines.

Moscato begins by stating that the first being that was emanated from God was created without an intermediary and is a most perfect and unknowable entity. Within this entity, God infused all of the ideas (i.e., the archetypes) in a state of complete perfection. Basing himself on the testimony of Pico della Mirandola, Moscato claims that this first stage of emanation was called "the son of God" by Plato and other ancient thinkers; this is precisely what Solomon, "the wisest of all men," referred to when he asked: "What is his name and what is the name of his son, if you know?" This first causatum is said to have two faces: the upper one is perfect and perfectly resembles the Emanator, and the lower one emanates the Soul of the World. This latter entity gives lower beings their form and bestows a soul upon everything that can endure one (i.e., the spheres, the angels, and man). Moscato notes that this is called a "garment," and goes on to discuss the reason that a term such as "garment," which denotes a material thing, would be applied to a being as lofty as the first causatum. Moscato explains that Plato identifies four stages of existence, each endowed with a lesser degree of perfection. In descending order, these are ideas, separate intellects, souls, and material things; each of these is more "material" than its precedent. From this, Moscato concludes that "the light of His garment" (also called "Holy Sanctuary," and "the Glory of the God of Israel") is to be identified with the first causatum, which works as a "throne" for God. Moscato also determines, on this basis, that the "earth" spoken of in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli`ezer designates all of the lower stages of Creation. Accordingly, the "snow [ ... ] under the Throne of the Glory:' from which the earth was created, is to be identified with the Soul of the World. The metaphors put forward by the rabbis are therefore highly praised by Moscato. According to him, the first causatum perfectly adheres to God, just as a garment adheres to the form of the body that it covers. Similarly, the Soul of the World is apt to receive all forms, just as snow is apt to reflect all colors.

Sermon Nine: Microcosm

In this long sermon, Moscato deals with the issue of man as a microcosm. Divine wisdom established that man should be in the image and mold of the entirety of all of existence. Inasmuch as man is the seal of all of creation, modern and ancient wise men say that man is a microcosm. Moscato connects this old and widespread concept of man to the statement of the Mishnah that "Whosoever destroys a single soul of Israel, it is as though he had destroyed an entire world:'"

Man as a microcosm corresponds to heaven, which symbolizes the intellect, and earth, which symbolizes matter. The Lord made a perfect man who contains all of the existents in his knowledge, and from these he acknowledges his Creator. The perfection of man depends on his active knowledge being all-inclusive of all the intelligibles. After the sin of the first man, however, man became deficient in his intellectual faculty. Due to this deficiency, God gave the Torah to Israel, in order that Israel could attain perfect, all-inclusive knowledge.

Man also correlates with the universe in terms of his body; this is maintained by Plato, Maimonides, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and Judah Halevi, and is proven by several passages of Scripture.

This totality of perfection was within the first man, the work of God's hands, before his disobedience. After the sin of Adam, man's intellect became unable to attain a clear understanding of the works of God without divine enlightenment.

Perfection, which Adam lost because of his rebellion, was restored in Abraham and his descendants, who received the Torah. Israel, however, with their sin of the calf, awoke judgment against them and spoiled the perfection that Abraham had obtained. Only in the future, through the coming of the expected Redeemer, will Israel return to its former state of glory; this final time, it will be forever. Moscato parallels the three stages of human history to the Sanctuary: the first and the second Sanctuaries were built and destroyed, but the third and last Sanctuary of the messianic age will be built and will stand firm forever.

Sermon Ten: The Soul of Man Is the Lamp of the Lord: Ye Shall Eat Nothing Leavened

Sermon ten is a psychological and ethical treatise about man's soul and about love. The main philosophical sources for the sermon are the Sefer ha-'Iqqarim of Joseph Albo, and the Shemonah Peraqim and the Moreh Nevukhim of Maimonides. Following Maimonides, who accepts Aristotle's tripartite division of the soul, Moscato considers man's soul to be one entity with three distinct functions: the vegetative (anima vegetabilis or vegetativa), the sensitive (anima sensibilis / sensitiva or animalis), and the rational (intellectiva/ intellectualis or rationalis, intelligibilis). Three Hebrew names for the soul, nefesh, ruah, and neshamah, correspond respectively to these three faculties, which are carried by the liver (anima vegetabilis), the heart (anima sensibilis), and the brain (anima intellectiva) respectively. Related to the soul's faculties are the three kinds of love: that of the pleasant, that of the useful, and that of the good. All of these types of love lead to God, who is the source and root of the absolute good, the pleasant good, and the useful good. The only way to reach perfect love is the Torah, which strengthens the intellective soul. Events in the lives of the biblical ancestors exemplify the three types of love. The three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavu'ot, and Sukkot remind the sons of Israel that all the parts of the soul are to be brought to perfection, so that they can love God with all of their faculties.

Judah Moscato Sermons: Edition and Translation, Volume Two by Judah ben Joseph Moscato (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) This second volume of Judah Moscato's work contains scholarly editions and translations of his Sermons 11-29 following the same standards and guidelines explained in the introduction to the first volume. This volume will be followed by two others with the remaining sermons and another containing the proceedings of an international conference on Moscato that was jointly organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) and Mantua's State Archives and held in Mantua (Italy), Judah Moscato's hometown, in July 2009. The latter volume, while constituting a useful tool for locating the scholarship of the Mantuan preacher, as well as providing an analysis of his intellectual environment, is nevertheless no substitute for a separate volume containing Moscato's own words, which can be furnished only by publication and translation of his sermons, a project hopefully to be completed soon.

The sermons deal with various topics: the social and moral duties of man toward God, toward his fellow man, and toward himself (sermon ii); the use of rhetoric for interpreting and teaching of Torah (sermons 12, 17); the benefit to be derived from learning the Torah explained in philosophical terms and the method of teaching the Torah (sermons 13, 19); the relationship between Torah and the sciences (sermon 14); the interpretation of the liturgical feast of Sukkot and the symbolical meaning of the lulav (sermons 15 and 17); the structure of the yeshivah according to the pattern of the Sanctuary and of the world (sermon 16); the attainment of happiness through speculation and action (sermon i8); the sanctity of Israel on Yom Kippur (sermon 2o); why Israel is to be thankful to God as much as possible in thought, speech, and action (sermon 21); the power of charity (sermons 22 and 23); the great responsibility of man in making a vow to God (sermon 24); the education of children and the importance of marriage (sermons 25 and 26); the corruption of the virtuous man and the power of repentance and circumcision (sermon 28 and 29).

Sermon Eleven: What Man Should Do to Live in This World and in the World to Come

The first part of the sermon is a detailed exegesis of Psalm 15. Moscato divides the psalm into three main parts, addressing, respectively, the duty of man toward God, toward his fellow, and toward himself. All other precepts fall within these three categories. These precepts can concern matters of seemingly trivial importance which do not always appear to be wrong; for example, lending money or paying a judge for his service. However, Scripture warns against such acts, which can easily degenerate and lead to sin: lending money can destroy one's wealth if accompanied by the demand for excessive interest, whereas paying a judge can be considered bribery and perversion of justice. By means of a diagram Moscato illustrates the moral teaching of the psalm and the interrelation between man and God, his fellow, and himself.

The second part of the sermon explains the Ten Commandments in accordance with the moral teaching of the psalm. For Moscato the three dimensions of man's relationships—with God, with his fellow, and with himself—are also included in the Ten Commandments. These commandments prohibit three principle types of trespasses that are the cause of all sin: trespasses of thought, speech, and action.

In the last part of the sermon Moscato sums up the parallel ethical teachings of the psalm and of the Ten Commandments, pointing out that the Commandments are to be considered mere exhortations, to be interpreted in analogically, and deducing their deeper meaning from other passages in Scripture.

At the end of the sermon there is an interesting legal note about betrothal through stolen money. Following Maimonides and Joseph Caro, Moscato holds a view that such betrothal is invalid.

Sermon Twelve: Elucidation of the Principles of the Torah Portion of the Festival of Shavu'ot

The sermon opens with a discussion (13-38) of Midrash Shir ha-Shirim 4:23, where the words of the rabbis on Song of Songs 4:11 are interpreted as indicating the three essential requirements of one who expounds the Torah in public, i.e., inventio (20-22), dispositio, and elocutio. Dispositio and elocutio are inseparable (23-3o). According to Moscato, these three requirements are each associated with a single part of Song of Songs 4:11 (31-38).

Thereafter, the second part of the sermon, an allegorical interpretation of Midrash Shir ha-Shirim 4:11 (39-131), begins. Moscato first apologizes to those who interpret the revelation at Mount Sinai as mere allegory (i.e., the Aristotelians), declaring that they will be disappointed by his words. He also apologizes that he may be tackling a subject that, for reasons connected to rabbinic law, should not be discussed on a festival day (39-42). He justifies his decision by noting that God is indifferent to the passing of time. Despite this, it is fitting that man celebrate Him according to the actions the Lord performed on a specific day of the year (43-47). Therefore, in order to celebrate the first day of the festival of Shavu'ot, the day when the Lord gave the Torah, Moscato discusses the wonderful reasons why one should study the Torah (48-130). To this end, he claims, one must concentrate on the founding event—the Revelation at Sinai—because a mistake concerning first principles will affect the conclusions (48-51).

According to Moscato, Midrash Shemot Rabbah 29:9, which elaborates the idea that all the creatures became silent when God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, must be interpreted as an allegory explaining how the congregation of Israel at Mount Sinai could be absolutely sure that the voice they heard was of divine origin (52-55). Indeed, although he does not rule out reading the passage from Midrash Shemot Rabbah according to its plain meaning (57), Moscato raises many difficulties inherent in such a reading (52-57). Through the allegory of the creatures' silence the author of the Midrash aimed both at assuaging all doubt regarding the historical and divine truth of the giving of the Torah and at demonstrating that the voice heard by the children of Israel, whereby the whole congregation rose to the level of prophets, could only be God's (58-62).

The silence of the various creatures indeed represents the full agreement of each part of the congregants' respective souls with the truth they experienced at Mount Sinai. The birds correspond to the imagination (63-65), the oxen to the human intellect (66-67), the Ophanim to the soul (68-69), and the Seraphim to the acquired intellect (7o-75). The silence of the sea, in turn, is interpreted as representing the total agreement of human science with the Torah, which encompasses all of them (76). Another proof that that voice was divine is that it produced no echo, which means that it could not have been the result of Moses' own contrivance (8o-82). If it was possible for the whole congregation of Israel at Mount Sinai to rise to the level of prophets, in the time to come Israel will enjoy an even greater comprehension of divine things (83-86). This interpretation of the Midrash—particularly the claim that the giving of the Torah represented a prophetic experience for those present—is also confirmed by Exodus 20:15-17.

(87-94). Now Moscato addresses the question: Why should one study the Torah? His four reasons coincide with those advanced by Aristotle in the introduction to his On the Soul intended to awaken the hearts of his readers to long for wisdom, i.e., the beauty of the Torah, the profit to be derived from its study, its extraordinary arrangement, and the loftiness of its teaching (95-104). Its arrangement, which may sometimes seem puzzling, is actually wondrous, insofar as it derives from the kabbalistic mysteries on which the Torah is founded (98-102). The Torah is distinguished from all other sciences because, if one studies it for its own sake, one will easily apprehend it (105-107). Another special reason one should study the Torah is that if one neglects its study, one is punished accordingly (112-120). Moscato interprets Psalm 19 as hinting at the reasons why one must study the Torah (121-130).

Sermon Thirteen: The Power of Those Who Toil in Torah Study

The sermon "for the Second Day of Shavu'ot" is the continuation of the topic mentioned at the end of the twelfth sermon: the benefit to be derived from studying Torah. Moscato adduces logical and rational arguments in support of the words of the sages (Midrash of Ruth) to prove that man can achieve his perfection and reach perfect happiness only through the Torah, and not through philosophical wisdom. As material food provides nourishment for the body, so the Torah provides nourishment specific for the intellective soul, which gets its nourishment, life, and sustenance exclusively from God.

The secular sciences cannot provide suitable nourishment for the existence and sustenance of the soul, because their objects of inquiry depend on the things which the soul itself has imagined, the existence Which is not possible outside the soul. This is the case because the sciences deal with truths that have been intellectually perceived and traced from matter both ontologically and categorically. This holds e even for the natural sciences, whose subject is always changing, I even for metaphysics and theology, because they are based only the conjectures of human speculation, which are of a very dubious lure.

The acquired intellect, which is acquired through knowledge of the fences, is attributed to the specific nature of the human being who brings his intellect into the light of the Agent Intellect. But, the sons of Israel benefited from the light of an additional soul from the superior vine breath, when His lamp shined above their head.

There follows an explanation of the cognitive process (13-14). The gent intellect illuminates the forms grasped by man's imaginative faculty and abstracts its material perceptions, reducing them to intelligible arms that are recognized by the hylic intellect in actu. Moscato mentions the different opinions regarding the nature of this agent intellect. s it separate, as Avicenna posits, or is it, as Aristotle says, of the same substance as the human intellect, thereby including the separate faculties of the agent intellect and the hylic intellect, the latter for receiving intelligible forms? Moscato concurs with Aristotle (see also sentence 2).

The philosophical explanation of the cognitive process is applied by Moscato to the Midrash of Ruth quoted at the beginning of the sermon. Moscato sees the imaginative faculty, the active-passive intellect, and the cquired intellect allegorically included in the sentence of the Midrash. Moscato seeks to prove that man can comprehend the highest intelligible forms only by means of the Torah, which allows the human intellect to oar with wings like an eagle.

The precepts of the Torah have the function of improving the rational civility of the human intellect by moderating the passions and reducing human actions to that right middle measure of which Aristotle speaks in he first book of the Nicomachean Ethics.

Sermon Fourteen: That Distinguishes between the Holy and the Common

Developing Leviticus 10:10 and Midrash Qohelet Rabbah 1:3, Moscato seeks to demonstrate that the human sciences are essentially different from the Torah and cannot apprehend any firm truth so long as they do not rest on and agree with the Torah (1-6). Unlike the Torah, they are incapable of perceiving ultimate truth (9); besides, no matter how long one strives to study the human sciences, one will never attain perfect knowledge by means of them, while one who studies the Torah with perfect intention will necessarily attain truth and joy in accordance with his capabilities (10, 15-16). Through the Torah God gave intellectual knowledge to the entire assembly of Israel gathered at Mount Sinai (1112). From then on the Torah has continued to enlighten Israel, as David testifies in the Psalms (13-14). All that the Lord requires is that man be attentive and obey His word, as the episode narrated in i Samuel 15:9-23 demonstrates (17-20).

The vapor mentioned in Psalm 144:4 and the "vapor of vapors" mentioned in Ecclesiastes 1:2 allude to the sciences and to their vanity. The seven pots mentioned in Midrash Qohelet Rabbah 1:3 allude to the order according to which the human sciences are to be studied. Just as the higher it rises, the more rarefied the vapor rising from the pots becomes, similarly, the higher human knowledge unaided by the Torah endeavors to reach, the more it fails (24-27). This is also alluded to in Bekhorot 8b-9a, where it says that if man relies only on himself, he cannot attain true knowledge (28-33); rather, true knowledge is to be achieved by means of studying Torah (34). Yet, if the sciences are understood properly and with the right intention, there is no contradiction between them and the Torah, as the Kuzari and other works point out (35-41). As long as the human sciences do not contradict the Torah, they are useful and truthful (42).

The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-33) is an allusion to the agreement between the Torah and the sciences (4257). Given this agreement, studying the human sciences benefits one who intends to study the Torah from a speculative point of view (58). This is illustrated by Bava Batra 73b, where a bird that sticks out of the water and whose head reaches heaven represents the intellectual knowledge of the Torah resting on the knowledge provided by the human sciences, which is represented by the water (59-69).

Solomon was able to gather all of this knowledge. Indeed, the seven names by which the wise Solomon was called allude to the seven sciences which Solomon himself declares void whenever they do not agree with and are not crowned by the Torah (7o-73). Knowledge of the sciences alone leads to nothing (74-76). The senses are unable to attain truth, and even if man manages to hand down the knowledge he has amassed through tradition, cataclysms are bound to destroy it (74-85).

The impossibility of formulating any certain statement concerning reality is also confirmed by the philosopher Heraclitus (86-89). This is also what Solomon hints at in Ecclesiastes 1:7-8 (9o-91). And yet, if the Torah is constantly held as the criterion against which every notion afforded by human knowledge must be measured, the study of the seven sciences is highly recommendable. This is alluded to by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:10-13 (92-97) and by the prophet Amos in Amos 7:7-9 (102-106). The happy outcome achieved when knowledge of the sciences is complemented with knowledge of the Torah is also alluded to allegorically in `Eruvin 4ob and in Sukkah 53a (107-110). Isaiah also hints at this agreement in Isaiah 3o:26 and in Isaiah 41:17-2o (111-117).

Sermon Fifteen: Man Is a Tree of the Field:3 For Sukkot

The sermon opens with a passage from Bava Batra 75a concerning the sukkah, which Moscato interprets as alluding to four different categories of man (3-5). Moscato begins by stating that the comparison of man to a tree is a common one in the Bible and in the works of the sages (68). A tree draws its nourishment through its roots and man is like an upside-down tree where the place of the roots is taken by the head, which draws nourishment, both materially (through the mouth) and spiritually (through the brain), and then carries it to all the other parts of the body, which are compared to the branches of the tree (9-11). The filaments sprouting from the roots of a tree are compared to man's hair. Thus, a Nazirite is not to shave his head, lest he sever his connection to God. Indeed, a man must spread his `roots' as high as possible in order to cleave unto the Godhead (12-13).

The fruit of this tree represents man's intellectual knowledge of the Torah, while the leaves represent his secular knowledge (14-15). In Genesis 2:8 Eden represents the Supreme Intellect, while the garden planted in it represents man's intellect (16). Therefore, one must ensure that he is well rooted in Eden in order to receive the emanation of the bounteous upper waters; indeed, if one is not, then he will receive the recompense of the wicked precisely because he is not rooted deeply enough (17-19)

Moscato then quotes the zoharic interpretation of Deuteronomy 2o:19, according to which the verse is to be interpreted as God prohibiting Satan from cutting down the trees—i.e., the righteous—of the community inasmuch as they provide nourishment for the emanation by means of their prayers (20-27).

Moscato proceeds by examining the four species comprised in the lulay. These correspond to four species of trees that are distinguished by being endowed with 1) both taste and fragrance, 2) taste but not fragrance, 3) fragrance but not taste, 4) neither taste nor fragrance. Moscato compares these species to the four categories of man hinted at in the opening quotation, which, as he points out further on, are distinguished by being endowed with 1) Torah and good deeds, 2) Torah but not good deeds, 3) good deeds but not Torah, 4) neither Torah nor good deeds (28-31 et infra).

The water libation prescribed for the festival of Tabernacles—a halakhah which was given to Moses at Sinai and which is also hinted at in the Scriptures (39-40)—alludes to the divine emanation which makes man's intellect blossom and which is welcomed with great rejoicing, as is also pointed out in Babylonian Talmud, Rosh ha-Shanah 16a and in Psalms 68:10 (32-38). The four gardens within Eden allude to the four different kinds of emanation which flow on the four different categories of men (41-45). The structure of the sukkah reproduces the analogies between man and tree (47-48).

Moscato then gives an interpretation of Leviticus 23:43 according to which the tabernacles also represent a sign of divine protection (49). As for the other precepts related to the festival, the thirteen oxen sacrificed on the first day of the feast symbolize the age of thirteen, when a boy becomes responsible for his actions; and the seventy oxen to be sacrificed throughout the whole feast represent the seventy years of a man's life (5o). Moreover, by leaving one's house and entering the sukkah one symbolically exposes oneself to the blessing of divine watering represented by rain (51). Here Moscato further elaborates on the nature and benefits of divine watering and the process whereby it spreads throughout man's body (52-55).

The ultimate goal of this man-tree is to unify with the Tree of Life, i.e., the Lord; and this is the reason why in the Midrash the four species comprised in the lulav symbolize both the four categories of men and the Lord himself (55-6o). Each man cleaves unto the Lord in accordance with his capabilities and each can attain some degree of felicity (61). The structure of the tabernacle alludes to the four different categories of men (62). The Leviathan mentioned in the opening passage from the Talmud alludes to the Torah; its skin symbolizes the skins on which the Torah is written (63-66). Moscato interprets Isaiah 44:1-5 as alluding to the four categories of men corresponding to the four kinds of trees, and to the four kinds of watering peculiar to each of them (67-7o).

Sermon Sixteen: A Song at the Dedication of the House and a Testimony for the Wise

The Sanctuary Moses built was shaped according to the threefold structure of creation. The idea of the yeshivah, whose edification is celebrated in this sermon, follows the same pattern (3-4). Yet, after the destruction of the Second Temple one must turn one's very soul (which is also threefold insofar as it is divided into soul, spirit, and intellective soul, which in turn correspond to the three parts into which man's body is divided) into a perfect, unblemished sanctuary.

The words of Exodus 25:9 we-khen ta`asu ("Even so shall ye make it") refer precisely to this sanctuary-soul (5-7). This is all the more true of the members of a yeshivah, whose activity must be countersigned by a thorough respect for halakhic laws (8-9). The yeshivah, perfect men, and Israel all descend from the five primeval possessions of the Lord: the Torah, the Sanctuary, heaven and earth, Abraham, and Israel, the last of which is composed of the priests, the Levites, and the people of Israel (1o). Therefore, in order to preserve the purity of the yeshivah, its head must be of fitting lineage, for otherwise the whole enterprise will be spoiled (12-14). Yet, thanks to the help of the Lord a fitting candidate has been found and appointed as head of the yeshivah (15).

Moscato then declares that only his proximity to the leaders of the yeshivah will enable him to proceed in his discourse, for, as pointed out by the Talmud and by Socrates in his Theages, the closer one draws to the sages, the more he learns and understands (16-2o). The aim of this yeshivah is to provide each with the kind of learning that best befits him in order for him to attain truth, to teach the precepts in order to fulfill them, and to act justly in order that one may fear the Lord. These aims are best summarized in Psalm 19:8-10 (21-23).

Moscato then interprets Psalm 133 as a description and a tribute for a yeshivah (25-29). He then adds a word of praise for dialogue and confrontation as a means of learning (3o-31) and an interpretation of Deuteronomy 29:9 as alluding to the three hierarchical rungs into which the faculty of a yeshivah is subdivided (32-33). Moscato proceeds to explain why the issue of the appointment of the yeshivah faculty is analyzed in the talmudic treatise Qiddushin, whose title alludes to the unbreakable `marriage' between the Lord and Israel. This entails that Israel is the Lord's own possession, as pointed out not only by the Mishnah, but also in Song of Songs 1:13-15 (34-36), and that Israel cannot become alienated from God (37-38). The sermon ends with a philosophical interpretation of Psalm 23 presented as the head of the yeshivah—i.e., Moscato himself—entreating the Lord to pour intellectual knowledge unto him and from him down to the other members of the academy (40-45).

Sermon Seventeen: A Tree Bearing Fruit:[A Sermon] for the Festival of Sukkot

Moscato expounds the three descriptions of the healing properties attributed by the rabbis (Midrash Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:25) to the leaf of the trees spoken of in Ezekiel 47:12. According to Moscato these refer to the three basic skills a rhetorician must exhibit—delivery (particularly, mime), elocution, and invention (4-1o). These skills are also alluded to in Isaiah 54:1 (11).

Furthermore, all rhetorical skills are alluded to by the four species comprised in the lulav. The citrus alludes to disposition and memory, the palm branch and myrtle to delivery and mime, and the willow branch to elocution (12-14) Yet, human perfection does not hinge on one's rhetorical skills, but on one's acting for the sake of the Lord (15-17). God can be compared to the number `one' and to the geometrical figure of the point; angels to the line; the celestial spheres to the surface, and the lower world to the solid (18-19). This set of analogies is hinted at by the Aramaic word for `world'— r —each of whose three letters allude to one of the three dimensions of a solid body (2o). By reciting the Trisagion the angels mean to declare God's exceptionalness beyond the three dimensions that characterize His creation (21-23).

The four species comprised in the lulav allude to God and the three dimensions (24-27). Moscato then traces a parallel among the four species comprised in the lulav and the four faculties of man: the vegetative faculty (willow branch), the sensitive faculty (myrtle), the motional faculty (palm branch), and the intellectual faculty (citrus) (28-31). It is because of its connection with the only immortal part of the soul (namely, the intellectual faculty) that the citrus is not bound together with the other species comprised in the lulav (32). Similarly, the place assigned to all the other species depends on their correspondence to the various parts of creation (33-34)• The perfection that must characterize each of the elements comprising the lulav thus alludes to man's obligation to mend all his own faculties (35). Moscato expands on the set of analogies drawn by stating that the four faculties of man find their respective counterparts in the four rivers coming out of the garden of Eden (36), and that among the four kinds of composite bodies, the inanimate, the vegetal, and the living ones, correspond respectively to the three worlds (from the lower one to the angelic one), while the speaking bodies correspond to God (37-38).

The four species comprised in the lulav therefore correspond to man's four faculties and the four realms of existence (39). Man must improve each of his own faculties through fitting means (40-43). A man who has control of his passions can be compared to a cube (43) and to the center of a circle (44). Moscato interprets Psalm 131 to be David's narration of the fight which he victoriously waged against his own passions (45-48). Man sins with four parts of his body: his heart (i.e., his mind), his eyes (the seat of craving), his mouth, and his limbs (49). David alludes to these four sections of the body in Psalm 36 (5o) and also to the correct use of these parts of the body in Psalm 119 (51). Further, Mishnah Avot 5:2o and Psalm 131 can be interpreted accordingly (52-53). The elevation of the lulav therefore symbolizes man's elevating himself by subjugating his passions (54)•

Sermon Eighteen: For Shavu'ot: A Bell of Gold and Its Clapper Is of Pearl

The Torah includes both a speculative and a practical component. The topic of this sermon deals with the question of whether speculation alone, action alone, or both together are necessary for attaining happiness. Moscato personifies the three options as protagonists arguing against each other in a debate.

The first protagonist argues that it is meet that our perfection pertain to that specific part of the human being which distinguishes him from the other animals, i.e., the intellect. Thus man's perfection involves actualizing his potential for knowing universal and eternal things. Accordingly, speculation alone is necessary for human perfection, whereas action is not remarkable, but merely useful because it is like a ladder to speculation, by preparing the material part of the soul for receiving the intellectual emanation which is its substance.

The second protagonist claims that the principle of human perfection depends on and consists in action alone. He argues that the principle of man's perfection pertains to that specific part of his nature which makes him different from the other, superior, intellectual beings. It is undeniable that this difference cannot come from intellectual speculation, because the superior beings are also intelligent, indeed even more so than we are. Accordingly, it follows that the practical intellect which distinguishes us from both the superior and inferior beings is the principle of our perfection.

The third protagonist holds that both speculation and action are equivalent and in themselves aim at the principle of man's perfection and happiness, because man, in his wondrous composition, consists of two parts: intellect and matter. For this reason the ancient sages called man the link between the superior and inferior beings and the horizon between the material and the immaterial beings. Thus it is proper for man to become perfect in his two components. Indeed, through speculation he can assimilate to the superior beings, improving his intellect; through action he can amend the low matter; and both together can improve his nature. If one of these two parts is deficient, he cannot achieve true perfection, and he therefore fails in his mission. For God sent man to preserve the life of all the parts of which he is composed. Moscato shares this view and confutes the theses of the former two protagonists by means of philosophical considerations drawn principally from Maimonides, Joseph Albo, and Judah Halevi, which he combines with quotations from the Bible, the Zohar, and the Talmud.

Sermon Nineteen: For Signs and for Seasons (Mo`adim)

According to Isaac ben Moses Arama, there are seven basic and unique teachings of the Torah, the knowledge of which coincides with the knowledge of the Torah. They are: 1) God created the world ex nihilo; 2) God is omnipotent; 3) prophecy and the Torah are of divine origin; 4) God forgives one who repents; 5) God watches over and provides for Israel; 6) man's actions shall meet with divine reward or punishment; and 7) Israel will live in the world to come (1-2).

God has connected each of the seven principal Jewish festivals (the Sabbath, Passover, Sukkot, Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, Shavu'ot, and Shemini `Aseret) with these teachings in order to render them comprehensible to all (3-4). In order to support the analogies Arama made, Moscato points out that the seven principles of the Torah are hinted at in the seven biblical verses that begin with the Hebrew word luie (except, unless, were it not') (5-1o).

Genesis 31:42 teaches that God created the world ex nihilo (11-12); Deuteronomy 32:27 teaches that God is omnipotent (13); Isaiah 1:9 teaches that God forgives one who repents (14); Psalm 124:2 teaches that God watches over and provides for Israel (15); Psalm 94:17 teaches that man's actions shall meet with divine reward or punishment (16-18); Psalm 27:13 teaches that Israel will live in the world to come (20-23); Psalm 119:92 teaches the divine origin of prophecy and the Torah (24).

Yet, why does the word Jule enjoy the privilege of marking the principles of the Torah? The truth of all but one of the principles of the Torah is demonstrated by experience (which is achieved through logical analysis of the events of one's life); only the existence of the world to come rests solely on faith (25). Now, because, as the rabbis point out, the unusual spelling of luie in Psalm 27:13 alludes to David's doubt as to whether he would merit the world to come—a doubt he could only overcome through faith—the word luie suitably alludes to faith (26-27). On the other hand, the word luie is also appropriate for alluding to experience because it means `had not' in all the verses Moscato mentioned. Thus it is used to introduce propositions that begin: `Had x not happened, y would have ensued'—and yet, since things have gone differently, one is to conclude that the providence of God determined otherwise (28-31).

More generally, God's provision for Israel is demonstrated by the people's survival through adversity, as the rabbis and Nachmanides have pointed out (32-33). This also explains Psalm 11:1 and why the plots of evil-doers have no chance of success (34-35). In the last part of the sermon, Moscato applies his reasoning to Psalm 11, which he interprets as a demonstration of the existence of divine providence (36-52).

Sermon Twenty: Holy Convocation. For Yom Kippur

The main topic of the sermon is the sanctity of Israel on Yom Kippur. In Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli`ezer it says that Sammael or Satan, who acts as accuser before God, has power over Israel only on Yom Kippur. However, in other rabbinic writings (Wayyiqra Rabbah and Babylonian Talmud Yoma) it is stated that "during all the days of the year Satan has permission to bring accusations against Israel, but he does not bring any accusations on Yom Kippur" For Moscato the contradiction is only apparent. God gave Sammael permission to bring charges again Israel on Yom Kippur because He wanted to confound Sammael for Israel's benefit the rest of the days of the year.

Furthermore, other questions are discussed which the passage from Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli`ezer raises: What is the relationship between Israel and the angels? What is the real order and necessary division of the five comparisons mentioned in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli`ezer? Moscato addresses these questions by allegorically interpreting several quotations from Scripture and the Talmud which, in his opinion, prove the superiority of Israel to the angels in heaven. Indeed, Israel on Yom Kippur, though on earth, can free itself of its material nature. Therefore, even Sammael on Yom Kippur is obliged to acknowledge the sanctity of Israel.

Now, if even the Accuser cannot find a reason to bring charges against Israel on Yom Kippur, what is the function of the preacher who addresses words of rebuke to the assembly in the synagogue on this day? The rebuke of the preacher is like a preventive cure aimed at strengthening the moral health of the community. The preacher prevents the member of the community from sinning after Yom Kippur has passed and from dirtying his soul, which is like a precious vessel that belongs exclusively to God.

Sermon Twenty-One: It Is Good to Take Refuge
in the Lord' and to Render Thank-Offerings unto Him

The people of Israel are to be thankful to God as much as possible in thought, speech, and action since God blessed them with His wisdom, might, and abundance in Egypt. These three make up all the good qualities which emanate from Him, blessed be He, upon us in soul, body, and wealth.

Israel's thankfulness is strictly linked to hope. The people of Israel are to trust in the Lord and not despair over the length of their exile. Moscato explains the rabbinic passage from Midrash Tanhuma quoted in the Yalqut Shim'oni accordingly and uses it as the outline of this sermon's argument.

Among the three categories of thought, speech, and action with which the people of Israel are to show their gratefulness, action is the most important. But if action is hindered, it is right and proper that thought and speech replace it.

Gratefulness is a quality that, despite their nature, even animals without intelligence proudly exhibit. Moscato quotes some examples of gratefulness among animals (35-38). If even animals are grateful, all the more should man be grateful toward God, Who truly does good. One should be generous in repaying God for His goodness in accordance with one's capacity. But one should keep in mind that the hand of one who repays or is grateful falls short in comparison to all His bountiful dealings. Fulfilling the precepts is a fitting way to repay Him because the precepts come from the divine world for our good; it is best to fulfill them well and at the right time. As an example of the fulfillment of the precepts at the right time Moscato mentions the redemption of captives, which is best suited for the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, was concerned with Israel's redemption from Egypt, i.e., around Passover time. This topic is discussed more extensively in Sermon 23.

Explaining the passage from Midrash Tanhuma, Moscato digresses to discuss the meaning of the word az. He repeats the explanation that he gave in the Sermon 14: az, whose numeric value is eight, alludes to the seven human sciences, which are also alluded to by the seven days of creation, and to the divine Torah, also alluded to by the covenant of circumcision, which is the principle of the Jewish faith.

The sermon ends with several biblical quotations which strengthen Israel's trust in God and their hope in the future redemption from exile.

Sermon Twenty-Two: For Your Poor in Your Land

The sermon deals with the importance of giving alms to the poor of Israel. The Jews in the Diaspora are obligated to support their brothers in the Land of Israel with their charity in order to increase the study of Torah and the performance of the precepts in the original land of their observance. The Jews living in the Diaspora thereby acquire many great and true advocates before the Lord. Through charity man acquires merit great enough to outweigh all his sins.

Moscato quotes several writings from the Bible, Midrashim, and rabbinic authors (Rashi, Judah Halevi, Bahya ben Joseph ibn Paquda, and Maimonides) that assert the great atoning power of charity. For one who performs charity causes many other people to be righteous. Further, the more the number of those who devote themselves to the Torah and its precepts in the original place of their observance grows, the more the merit of those who sustain them with their alms increases and spreads. As in the case of the statute of the ma'amadot at the time of the Temple, the righteous who engage in performing a precept in God's Land also act on behalf of those who support them.

Furthermore Moscato stresses that the blessing that God gives men in riches and wealth is like a loan that the Lord grants to man on condition that he favor the poor. Man repays his debt by giving to the indigent. However, although a borrower usually pays interest to a lender, this is not the case with the Holy One, blessed is He: on the contrary, He rewards the borrower with interest when he pays off his debt.

Moscato concludes the sermon by pointing out that charity should be done only with the right intention, for the sake of Heaven, without the intention of receiving profit or admiration for generous acts.

Sermon Twenty-Three: Liberty to the Captives: Parashah Saw, on Shabbat ha-Gadol before Passover

Moscato deals with the topic of ransoming captives, which is connected with the subject of the previous sermon (22): the importance of charity. This sermon is dedicated to the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol which precedes Passover and commemorates the loth of Nisan, when the Hebrew slaves took the lambs for Pesach and kept them outside their homes until they sacrificed them on the 14th of Nisan (Exodus 12:3-6).

For Moscato, ransoming captives is one of the greatest manifestations of charity, superior even to sacrifices. Israelis urged to perform this act of charity on Shabbat ha-Gadol, which is the day of the redemption of their souls and the beginning of their performance of the precepts, as Abu-darham wrote at the end of Tefillot shel Purim. Throughout the sermon, Moscato compares charity, especially the act of ransoming captives, to the sacrificial offering in the Sanctuary.

He gives four necessary conditions for a perfect donation to God. The first condition requires that the soul of one who gives an offering be pure in its intention; the second condition is that the offering be proportionate to the means of the donor: "the wealthy man through his ox and the poor man through his sheep"; the third condition is that man be quick [to give] in every manner; the fourth condition demands that he give his offering with joy.

Charity given under these four conditions causes God to change His judgment into mercy and will accelerate Israel's redemption.

Sermon Twenty-Four: Pay Thy Vows unto the Most High"

The subject of Sermon 24 follows that of the previous sermon and contcerns delaying payment of a vow or a promised donation to God. With the support of several quotations from the Bible and rabbinic authors, Moscato stresses the gravity of the trespass that one commits when he delays payment of his vow.

God will seek the vow from the one who makes it through many admonishing signs and messengers in the form of several kinds of divine punishment, afflictions, and illnesses. These are not to be understood as indications of divine vengeance, but rather as a means used by God to keep man from iniquity and to cleanse him of great transgression.

Moscato proves the gravity of the sin of one who thinks that it is right to vow, or even that such vowing is for the honor of God, when he knows he cannot fulfill his vow. A person who does not keep his word depreciates the value of speech, which is what distinguishes man from all other animals. Furthermore, delaying the fulfillment of a vow leads to the perversion of man's three essential components: nefesh, ruah, and neshamah, relating, respectively, to the vegetative, the sensitive, and the intellective faculty, as illustrated by Jacob in the Bible. Moscato concludes the sermon by showing that those who do not delay in paying their vows bring the benefit of material and spiritual happiness to themselves and to all people in this world and in the world to come.

Sermon Twenty-Five: The Father to the Children Shall Make Known the Way of Their Perfection

The main topic of the sermon is the education of children. Moscato gives an allegorical explanation of Psalm 127, saying that children are like arrows that are to be shot toward the target of perfection. Perfection includes the perfection of man's relationship with God, with himself, and with his fellow. Only in this way can a well-ordered social life be maintained. Man can reach the perfection he aims for only if God helps him and sends wisdom, understanding, and magnanimity, as He did with King Solomon, the best example of a perfect man.

God gave His holy Torah to His people in order to help them attain the perfection that leads to happiness. By means of the Torah, which young people learn from youth on, the people of Israel will spread their wings upward and cleave to the heavenly creatures, as Isaac Abrabanel wrote. Moscato sees an allusion to this in the Cherubim that spread their wings over the Ark. On the way to perfection man is to achieve control over his material faculties, which are prone to serve the evil inclination. If children learn to cleave to God and His Torah, they will be able to rule over their material faculties and make right use of them.

Moscato develops the metaphor of the bow and arrow for children's education, playing with a pun on the words yarah ("to shoot") and yareh ("to show"). He interprets 1 Samuel 31:3 accordingly. Moscato explains that the word `teaching' (hora'ah) looks like a form of yarah because the teacher (moreh) is one who turns and directs the pupil toward the targeted knowledge, like one who shoots (moreh) an arrow in order to reach the target placed straight ahead before him.

Sermon Twenty-Six: Whoso Findeth a Wife Findeth a Great Good

"Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness", says R. Hanilai in Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 62b. The opposite of this statement, namely "that any man who finds a wife lives with joy, blessing, and goodness" is true only if a man marries a suitable woman. According to Moscato, marriage is a commandment which God gave human beings when he paired Adam and Eve. Man and woman should form a perfect unity, which is necessary for attaining felicity and bliss in this world and the next. Only a man who is married is really a `man', otherwise he remains like a little child, as the author of Toldot Yishaq explained on the basis of Scriptural references (27-28). When a husband and wife are worthy, the Divine Presence abides with them; but when they are not worthy fire consumes them. As Moscato explains, the words ish `man' and ishah `woman' are connected with the word esh `fire.

If a man marries a woman that is suitable for him, he will benefit both intellectually and practically. Moscato interprets Psalm 128 accordingly and this exegesis makes up the central part of the sermon. The main goal of marriage is not to preserve the species, which is also common to animals, nor is it beauty or other similar things which are considered important by the many. For a pious Jew, the main purpose of marriage is to have worthy children who gladden the hearts of God and men by performing God's Law.

In order to marry a suitable woman, man has to inquire about her family. This is his duty. He should do all that he can to marry a woman suitable for him. However, in spite of all his efforts, only God can help him have a blissful marriage. As Scripture says, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Sermon Twenty-Seven: The Punishment of the Perfect Man When He Backslides

The topic of this sermon is the gravity of the corruption of the virtuous. The sermon is introduced only by a quotation from the Talmud (ma'amar) without any explicit reference to the Bible (nose'). For two reasons the corruption of the upright man who has attained a high level in wisdom is particularly grave and displeasing to God: the conscious rebellion against the precepts of God and the damage to the precious vessel, namely the soul, which is the exclusive property of God. The latter was mentioned in Sermon 20 (42-43).

Here, in Sermon 27, Moscato gives a broader treatment of this subject, relying upon the Talmudic principle that a craftsman does not acquire title to the increase in value caused by the construction of an article which is the exclusive property of its owner. Moscato interprets this principle metaphorically: the article is the soul and its owner is God, who furnished man with all means necessary for improving his soul. If man damages his soul after he has attained its perfection, he is liable to God for full compensation for the damage. The value of his soul is so great and he bears so much guilt that there is no remedy." The evil inclination which is congenital to the human soul leads man to sin. Man follows his evil inclination and, because of the deficiency of his understanding, loses the perfection of soul he had attained. For a human being does not know his value and does not understand the place of his dignity. Thus he exchanges a good for a bad.

Moscato seems to accept the intellectual explanation of vice according to Aristotelian philosophy. However, Aristotle is not quoted. Moscato supports his interpretation with several Biblical quotations from the psalms (25). Through his own willpower alone, man cannot resist the evil inclination of his nature and keep the perfection he has attained. To be sure, even the angels changed their mind and degraded themselves; consequently their evil inclination led to their expulsion from heaven to earth (42). Man can only prevail over his evil inclination with God's help, using the Torah He gave him as an antidote.

Moscato concludes with an exhortation to trust in the mercy of God, Who will restore Israel's virtue to its original condition, thanks also to the merit of Moses.

Sermon Twenty-Eight: Circumcision of Body and Heart

The sermon opens by quoting Deuteronomy 3o:6 from Parashah Nisavim, which lays out the theme of the sermon: the importance of repentance and of circumcision, which establishes the Israelites' sacred covenant with God.

Because of the sin of the First Man, the human soul lost its original purity and remains imprisoned in matter. However, God devised repentance as an aid for man to return to Him and to restore the innocence of his soul, so that it can rise to God with its three faculties: namely, the vegetative, sensitive, and intellective faculties. Another positive consequence of repentance is to give one who sins the certainty of being able to atone, so that he does not abandon himself to committing other, greater transgressions because he despairs of ever being forgiven.

In the time of the Temple sacrifices served as expiation. As they were commensurate with the gravity of the sin, they made sinners understand the degree to which they had trespassed the law (17-23). However, true atonement could only be attained, even in that time, through perfection of the soul itself "through acting justly, loving kindness, and walking humbly with one's God" (22). Now that the Temple no longer exists, atonement is attained through repentance, which includes confession of sin before God (24-29).

Moscato proceeds to interpret Psalm 118, which is included in the hallel prayer, as saying that a repentant sinner opens the gate to God's mercy and can live (37-48). God's love is greater than man's weakness. God decreed that even for an intentional sin, in every place and at any time, even without making an offering, it is enough for a sinner to repent, to confess his guilt and he will be forgiven (49). Therefore, man should thank and praise God for His mercy (50-53).

Sentences 54-93 are a detailed explanation of eight questions regarding the meaning of Parashah Nisavim. A central subject among them is the connection of circumcision to repentance. Moscato points out the difference between the First Man's circumcision and the second circumcision, which God promised to His people after their exile in Egypt and before they came into the Holy Land (Deuteronomy 3o:6).

Moscato stresses the importance of circumcision of the heart. The First Man (Adam) received both circumcisions, that of body and of heart, in his perfect and pure condition, when he was shaped by God. After his transgression, his circumcision turned into an irrevocable death sentence despite his repentance (78). The second circumcision is, however, a peaceful means which God devised in order to repair man's matter and evil inclination. It is a useful improvement for restoring the perfection of the heart to its original condition before Adam's sin. With God's help, this correction will be more perfect and certain and will protect man from the danger of falling again from the level of perfection he has attained.

At the end of the sermon (115-134) Moscato explains the allegorical meaning of the rite of the circumcision which is considered analogous to the sacrifice in the Temple.

Finally, this sermon was composed for the circumcision of one of Moscato's grandsons, in which Moscato himself participated as one of the two godfathers.

Sermon Twenty-Nine: Covenant of Peace

The topic of the importance of circumcision for improving man's body and soul, a topic which Moscato treated in the previous sermon, is further expanded in this one. Circumcision is called a "covenant of peace" because it brings abundant peace into man and because it is a precept of God, who is called "the King to whom peace belongs". Abraham is the exemplary figure who accepted circumcision as a precept of God and as a sign of His covenant. But how could Abraham be called "perfect" on account of his circumcision alone, while the children of Israel must observe the entire Torah to attain perfection? Further, how could circumcision counterbalance all the precepts of the Torah? Finally, what is the relationship between circumcision and the Torah if heaven and earth exist through each?

Moscato explains these questions by analogy with the movement of the heavenly spheres. Abraham is likened to the eighth sphere of the fixed stars which is nearest to the Mover and consequently attains its perfection through a single movement, whereas the other, lower spheres attain their perfection through a number of movements. Similarly, because Abraham was very close to God, it was sufficient for him to perform the precept of circumcision alone, in addition to the other seven precepts which were given to the sons of Noah, in order to attain moral perfection (22-52).

Regarding the relationship between the Torah and circumcision, Moscato agrees with Abraham Shalom, the author of Neweh Shalom, that the covenant of the Torah cannot be distinguished from the covenant of circumcision because each of them brings benefit to body and soul, only that the first is general and the second particular.

Finally, Moscato answers the third question, namely that dealing with the equivalence of circumcision to all the precepts of the Torah. The statement that circumcision counterbalances all the precepts should not be understood literally. Rather, it means that circumcision readies the child on whom the ritual is performed to fulfill all the precepts of the Torah effectively. Man should strive to improve himself even though he cannot succeed without the aid of God.

At the end of the sermon Moscato mentions the grandson on the occasion of whose circumcision the sermon was written.

Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis by Edward L. Goldberg (Toronto Italian Studies: University of Toronto Press) In the seventeenth century, Florence was the wealthy capital of the Medici Grand Dukedom of Tuscany. But amid all the affluence splendour, the Jews in its tiny Ghetto struggled to earn a living by any possible means, including loan-sharking and rag-picking. They were often regarded as a mysterious people gifted with rare supernatural powers. From their ranks arose Benedetto Blanis, a businessman and aspiring scholar from a distinguished Ghetto dynasty who sought to parlay his alleged mastery of astrology, alchemy, and Kabbalah into a grand position at the Medici Court. He gradually won the patronage of Don Giovanni dei Medici, a scion of the ruling family, and for six tumultuous years their lives were inextricably linked.

Drawing on thousands of newly uncovered documents from the Medici Granducal Archive, Edward Goldberg reveals the daily dramas behind the scenes in the Pitti Palace and in the narrow byways of the Florentine Ghetto. He shows that truth - particularly historical truth - can be stranger than fiction, especially as witnessed by the people most immediately involved.

Cities are defined as much by what is missing as by what is present. Two thousand years ago in this very place there was the forum of the Roman colony of Florentia. Then, from the Middle Ages until nearly the present day, the Mercato Vecchio, Florence's central market. And on the edge of this market, the Jewish Ghetto, as decreed by the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany.

Scant traces of the Roman forum remain below ground. The central market has since moved twice - first to nearby San Lorenzo and then to distant Novoli. The Jewish Ghetto ceased to exist as a physical place more than a hundred years ago, when its buildings were razed in the late nineteenth century. It survives, however, as an historical fact and perhaps even as a state of mind.

Rather than brick and stone, the primary evidence for the Florentine Ghetto now consists of words on paper, preserved for centuries in local archives - usually Christian archives, not those of the Jews themselves. For years, the leaders of the Jewish community periodically obliterated their own history, clearing out the old documents on their shelves to make space for new ones. If we want to discover the Ghetto as it was and trace the lives of its inhabitants, the place to begin is the vast Medici Granducal Archive with its police files, judicial records, legal contracts, government deliberations, and literally millions of letters.

Sometimes there is an extraordinary trove waiting to be found - words on paper that seem to cancel the intervening centuries and bring us face to face with the past. Between 1615 and 1620 Benedetto Blanis (c.1580-c.1647), a Jewish scholar and businessman in the Florentine Ghetto, sent 196 letters to Don Giovanni dei Medici (1567-1621), an influential member of the ruling family. In the Medici Granducal Archive, we can read these letters more or less as Benedetto wrote them - in pen and ink, with all of the peculiarities of their time. Now we can also read them in print, in a full critical edition - with transcriptions, footnotes, and indices?

Here, in Jews and Magic in Medici Florence, we follow this same man on another archival journey - one that is longer, less direct, and less clearly mapped. It takes us to the farthest reaches of the Medici Gran-ducal Archive and then beyond, moving from document to document of every imaginable kind. Benedetto served Don Giovanni as librarian - managing his palace library, organizing and cataloguing its contents, acquiring books from various sources, and sharing his patron's most recondite interests. Together they ventured into dangerous and often forbidden territory: astrology, alchemy, and the Kabbalah.

Along the way, we see Benedetto Blanis living life on the edge, in a strange no man's land between the Ghetto and the Medici Court. He was a scholar by choice but a businessman by necessity and his commercial ventures, especially loan sharking and debt collection, made him many enemies. Benedetto's worst foes were other Jews and the very worst his own in-laws and cousins - recent converts to Catholicism.

Benedetto played a daring game of brinksmanship in the realm of the occult, trusting in his patron's power and influence to set things right. He traded in esoteric writings, especially works on the Inquisition's Index of Prohibited Books, and he was incarcerated twice, first for two weeks and then for several years. After one particularly stormy encounter with Monsignor Cornelio Priatoni, the Father Inquisitor in Florence, Benedetto Blanis reported to Don Giovanni dei Medici: 'I was a bad Jew, he said, because I went from one condition to another and did not stay Jewish. That, he said, was his definition of a bad Jew.'

Benedetto may have been a good Jew or he may have been a bad one, but he was undeniably a brilliant and provocative individual. Thanks to his personal letters and a host of other documents in the Medici Granducal Archive, we can follow him closely, day by day, as he struggled to make a life for himself against daunting odds.

Preachers of the Italian Ghetto edited by David B. Ruderman. (University of California Press) By the mid-sixteenth century, Jews in the cities of Italy were being crowded into compulsory ghettos as a result of the oppressive policies of Pope Paul IV and his successors. The sermons of Jewish preachers during this period provide a remarkable vantage point from which to view the early modern Jewish social and cultural landscape. In this eloquent collection, six leading scholars of Italian Jewish history reveal the important role of these preachers: men who served as a bridge between the ghetto and the Christian world outside, between old and new conventions, and between elite and popular modes of thought. The story of how they reflected and shaped the culture of their listeners, who felt the pressure of cramped urban life as well as of political, economic, and religious persecution, is finally beginning to be told. Through the words of the Italian ghetto preachers, we discover a richly textured panorama of Jewish life more than 400 years ago.

The sixteenth century witnessed the ghettoization of Jews in Italy. Although the process was accompanied by compulsory sermons from Christian preachers, Jews flocked to hear Jewish preachers, whose sermons drew on both Judaism and the regnant cultural tastes. Preachers of the Italian Ghetto offers six eminently readable essays and a methodological overview, which together form an important first approach to this valuable literature.

Marc Saperstein's essay, "Italian Jewish Preaching: An Overview," lives up to its title. He considers the intriguing problem of the relation between a sermon as delivered and its later published form. He also examines the role of the preacher as moral critic for his audience and the "serious gap between the values of the community and those of its religious leadership" (32). His remarks parallel those of David Ruderman in the introduction, where he discusses the bifurcated role of sermons in both relaying cultural patterns found throughout Europe and in communicating "a cultural ambience unique to Jews" (3).

The issue of Christian influences and ideas in Jewish sermons surfaces in a number of the essays. Moshe Idel examines Judah Moscato's interest in kabbalah and his appropriation of motifs and ideas from the Christian environment of Mantua. It was the kabbalah, of interest to Christian neoplatonists as well as Jews, that "became the main avenue of intellectual acculturation into the outside world" (57). But in the next essay, "Preaching as Mediation Between Elite and Popular Cultures: The Case of Judah del Bene," Robert Bonfil proposes that the preacher served as a mediator between elite and popular culture. He finds that the baroque obscurity of someone like del Bene served only to fix and widen the gap between the literate and the illiterate. The baroque Jewish culture of the seventeenth century thus emerges as a sharp break with, not a continuation of, earlier Renaissance-era Jewish culture. Preachers like del Bene and Azariah Figo were surely, Ruderman claims, repudiating attempts like those of Moscato to harmonize Judaism with alien thought. Ruderman finds that Figo arrived at a kind of skepticism spreading among Jews and gentiles alike, akin to that of Mersenne and Gassendi. Joanna Weinberg's essay on Leon Modena, a Venetian preacher, demonstrates how he relied on the rhetorical models developed by Christian preachers, especially Francesco Panigarola. These models allowed Modena to locate a middle ground between the mannered style of Moscato and the simpler language of the majority of rabbis. Weinberg thus asserts that Modena was conscious of the preacher's responsibility to his audience. The volume concludes with a largely descriptive piece, Elliot Horowitz's "Speaking of the Dead: The Emergence of the Eulogy among Italian Jewry of the Sixteenth Century."

This field of research is still in its infancy, and it is to be hoped that further work will be done. If nothing else, more systematic attention is needed to the problem of reading a literary genre so dense with references and allusions as sermons. Nor have these essays, which all take an approach more or less along the lines of intellectual history, produced much insight into the social world of the ghetto. The consistent high quality of these contributions, however, insures that they will serve as guideposts to this important field of research for a long time.