Elijah Benamozegh Z”l (born 1822; died 1900) was an Italian Orthodox rabbi and a noted
Kabbalist, highly respected in his day as one of Italy’s most eminent Jewish scholars. He served for half a century as rabbi of the important Jewish community of Livorno, where the Piazza Benamozegh now commemorates his name and distinction.
He was born at Livorno. His father (Abraham) and mother (Clara), natives of Fez, Morocco, died when Elijah was only four years old. He early entered school, where, besides instruction in the elementary sciences, he received tuition in Hebrew, English, and French, excelling in the latter. Benamozegh devoted himself later to the study of philosophy and theology, which he endeavored to reconcile with each other.
At the age of twenty-five he entered a commercial career, spending all his leisure time in study; but his natural tendency toward science and an active religious life soon caused him to abandon the pursuit of wealth. He then began to publish scientific and apologetic works, in which he revealed a great attachment to the Jewish religion, exhibiting at the same time a broad and liberal mind.
His solicitude for Jewish traditions caused him to defend even the much-decried Cabala. Later, Benamozegh was appointed rabbi and professor of theology at the rabbinical school of his native town; and, his other occupations notwithstanding, he continued to write and defend Jewish traditions until his death, in Livorno.
“Emat Mafgia'” (The Fear of the Opponent), a refutation of Leon de Modena’s attacks upon the Cabala, in 2 vols., Leghorn, 1858
“Ger Tzedek” (A Righteous Proselyte), critical notes on Targum Onkelos, ib., 1858
“Ner le-David” (Lamp of David), commentary on the Psalms, published together with the text, ib., 1858
“Em la-Mikra” (Matrix of Scripture), commentary on the Pentateuch containing critical, philological, archeological, and scientific notes on the dogmas, history, laws, and customs of theancient peoples.
Published together with the text under the title
“Torat Adonai,” Leghorn and Paris, 1862-65
“Ta’am la-Shad” (Arguments for Samuel David refutation of Samuel David Luzzatto’s dialogue on the Cabala, Leghorn, 1863
“Mebo Kelali,” general introduction to the traditions of Judaism,
published in “Ha-Lebanon,” 1864, pp. 73 et seq.
“Storia degli Esseni,” Florence, 1865
“Morale Juive et Morale Chrétienne. Examen Comparatif Suivi de Quelques Réflexions sur les Principes de l’Islamisme,”
“Jewish and Christian Ethics with a Criticism on Mahomedism”
(English translation of the above. E. Blochman, 1873)
“Teologia Dogmatica ed Apologetica,”
Leghorn, 1877 (on metaphysics)
“Le Crime de la Guerre Dénoncé à L’Humanité,”
Paris, 1881 (this work won for its author a medal and honorable mention from the Ligue de la Paix, on the proposition of Jules Simon, Edouard Laboulaye, and Frederic Passy)
“Ya’aneh be-Esh” (He Will Answer Through Fire),
discussion of cremation according to the Bible and the Talmud, Leghorn, 1886.
“Israël et l’Humanité” (Israel and Humanity),
discussion of universal religion and the roles of relationships between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, 1914
(posthumous, edited by Aimé Pallière).
Natan Slifkin. The Challenge of Creation:
Judaism’s Encounter with Science, Cosmology and Evolution
Yashar Books, 2006. page 241-242
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals: Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh: Israel and Humanity.
This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article “Benamozegh, Elijah” by Isidore Singer and Isaac Broydé, a publication now in the public domain.