This volume chronicles the life of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, one of the greatest and most controversial of kabbalistic thinkers.
Best known for his work Mesillat Yesharim - a treatise on the path man must follow to attain religious and ethical perfection - Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, also known as the Ramchal, was a kabbalist, Hebrew poet, accomplished linguist, and leader of a group of religious thinkers who were primarily interested in the problems of redemption and messianism.
Born in Padua, Italy, in 1707, Luzzatto was regarded as a genius from childhood, thoroughly knowledgeable in Bible, Talmud, Midrash, halakhic literature, and classical languages and literature. He also possessed an extensive knowledge of contemporary Italian culture.
In 1727, while immersed in kabbalistic speculations, Luzzatto claimed to have heard the voice of a maggid - a divine power inclined to reveal heavenly secrets to human beings. Henceforth, the revelations of the maggid served to comprise future kabbalistic writings, only a few of which survived and were published.
When word of Luzzatto's teachings reached the leading rabbis of Italy, a vehement controversy followed and he was coerced into giving up his kabbalistic writings and refraining from teaching Kabbalah altogether. Eventually, Luzzatto was forced to leave Italy. He lived in Amsterdam for a number of years, writing on many subjects but never openly teaching Kabbalah.
In 1743 Luzzatto moved to Eretz Yisrael and lived there until 1746, when he and his family fell victim to a plague in Acco.