Was Moses Hayyim Luzzatto a Saint, a Heretic, or a Pioneer of Jewish Modernity?

Born in Padua in 1707, Moses Hayyim Luzzatto received a traditional rabbinic education alongside training in philosophy, rhetoric, literature, and other liberal arts. He also delved deeply into kabbalah and claimed to have communed with an angelic messenger who instructed him in the Torah’s mysteries. A polymath, Luzzatto wrote poetry, Hebrew plays, works of theology and mystical speculation, and the guide to moral and spiritual perfection titled Path of the Just, which is popular in yeshivahs today. Some of his writings led him to be condemned as a secret of follower of the Sabbatian heresy, and Italian rabbis eventually forced him out of Italy. Since his death in 1746, he has been admired and claimed as a precursor by both secular and religious Zionists, proponents of the Haskalah, kabbalists of all kinds, and the strictest Haredim.

In conversation with J.J. Kimche, Jonathan Garb explores Luzzatto’s life and legacy, as well as the past and present controversies surrounding him, and explains how his study of rhetoric informed all of his work. (Audio, 65 minutes.)

Read more at Podcast of Jewish Ideas

More about: Hebrew literature, Jewish Thought, Kabbalah, Moses Hayim Luzzatto

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security