4. Preaching as Mediation Between Elite and Popular Cultures: The Case of Judah Del Bene
La lingua sua vie più che spada taglia la penna sua vie più che fiamma coce
Scholarly research bears more than one sign of vanity. The biblical author of Ecclesiastes already noted the link between tireless human curiosity and the ultimate vanity of discovery. Like any other vain pursuits, scholarly research follows fashion. The choice of the subject of this essay may well be considered a typical example of that fact. After centuries of oblivion, scholars have recently noticed Judah Assael Del Bene from very different standpoints. For some, Del Bene provides an example of the peculiar tension between rationalism and antirationalism which is supposedly immanent in Jewish culture. As such he represents a typical throwback to a centuries-old medieval posture within the baroque context of the seventeenth century. He personifies the Jewish way of resisting outside seduction toward acculturation and ultimate self-effacement. For others, Del Bene represents instead one of the most vivid manifestations of the inception of modernity within Italian Jewish culture. He thus emerges as a prototype of an organic assertion of Jewish cultural self-consciousness within the spirit of the epoch. In either case then, the figure of Del Bene is one with strong resonances in our own epoch, so intensely characterized by “baroque” manifestations and perplexities. A Rabbi in Ferrara, where he enjoyed the prominent social and cultural status inherited by his father David, Del Bene was undoubtedly a representative of the Jewish establishment in the age of the ghetto.
It was in this capacity that Rabbi Judah ascended the synagogue pulpit and addressed his audience. He thus performed one of the most typical mediating functions in Jewish society. Assuming that preaching is an expression rooted in society’s perception of its social identity, an individual appointed by society to perform such an activity is always a mediator. The preacher’s sermon is intended to mediate between different categories of thought underlying different life experiences. A preacher is expected to mediate between elite culture and popular culture. A synagogue sermon must be noticed and understood by the learned rabbis sitting in the first row as well as by the uneducated sitting in the back. This is perhaps the most difficult of the preacher’s tasks. A preacher also mediates between his own desires and aspirations and those of his audience. He must instill knowledge and values that in his view are at least partially lacking in his audience, yet he must accomplish this without creating the impression that he is preaching something his audience is not a priori ready to accept. For his audience, the preacher must perform a function one might characterize as retrieving lost knowledge and values rather than innovating. In other words, a preacher is expected to mediate between the already known and the unknown; between conservation and innovation that occasionally might even be revolution; between the old and the new. Moreover, a preacher mediates between what his audience actually knows to be, and what it would, at least overtly, aspire to be; between actual reality and wishful thinking. Thus a preacher is supposed to warn and castigate, yet within limits already well defined and accepted by the audience. He is supposed to say in a captivating manner what everyone might otherwise hear from his own conscience. Should the preacher overlook these limits, he very likely might be dismissed. Within Jewish society, one may reasonably add a special component to this particular dimension. As Jewish society does not exist in a void, but rather in permanent interaction with the non-Jewish environment, a Jewish preacher may reasonably be expected to mediate between the Jewish universe of thought and values and the non-Jewish one. From this vantage point, the preacher’s mediating function would then most likely be one between reception and rejection of external standards and values. In accomplishing his moralistic function, the preacher might, of course, primarily warn about such dangers as those inherent in nourishing oneself on Gentile culture or in questioning the stability of the traditional sociocultural structures of the Jewish community. As we shall see, however, there is much more to it than that.
Title page from Judah Assael Del Bene’s Kissot le-Veit David (Verona, 1646).[jy Courtesy of The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
In any case, the homiletical product of a preacher may allow the historian to detect the inception of change within a conservative society. Comparative analysis of sermons with what we know of learned elite culture might also allow us to perceive the limits of the mediating activity of the preacher, what he thought fit to include as well as what he preferred to exclude. Should we be lucky enough to be able to extend this comparative analysis beyond the field of what the preacher actually preached to his audience, and consider as well what the audience received and internalized, we would surely gain a deeper understanding of the different forces at work in the making of cultural change. Unfortunately, a set of all these elements together is very rarely at our disposal. Records of sermons that were actually delivered are nonexistent. Preachers did not yet read their speeches and, at least within Jewish society, people could not take notes because preaching almost always took place when writing was ritually forbidden. As is well known, what remains are only literary versions of sermons, as elaborated by the preacher himself post eventum, or shorthand records, written down by listeners after the holiday was over, on the basis of what they were able to store in memory. To the best of my knowledge, we do not possess more than one record of the same sermon. Yet we are usually relatively rich in material illuminating the preacher’s learned culture or his social environment, often both.
Del Bene’s preaching within seventeenth-century Italian Jewish society presents a rare opportunity to carry out a comparative analysis of this kind. In addition to his printed book of essays, Kissot le-Veit David (Verona, 1646), the cultural legacy of this rabbi includes the record of some sermons, written down by one relatively educated listener, Israel ben Abraham Ha-Kohen, in a manuscript entitled Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, which might be translated as “Its Foundation is in the Mountains of Holiness” (cf. Ps. 87:1) and where one may perhaps detect a baroque predilection for the antithesis between metaphorical depth and no less metaphorical heights, similar to Giovan Battista Marino’s typical oxymora. In his brief introduction, Ha-Kohen informs the reader that, once the Sabbath or holiday was over, he gathered his notes from the sermons he was able to remember of preachers he was fortunate enough to have heard speak. Most sermons recorded by Ha-Kohen were delivered by Rabbi Peletiah Monselice. Two were delivered by Rabbi Eliezer David Del Bene, father of Judah, and the remaining fourteen by Judah. In contrast to Monselice’s sermons, which follow the weekly readings of the Torah systematically, most of Del Bene’s sermons were delivered during holidays or on Saturdays preceding or following major holidays. It would therefore not be unreasonable to suppose that these were precisely the occasions on which Ha-Kohen left his country residence in order to enjoy the holiday in the more exciting atmosphere of Ferrara. Future research will undoubtedly elucidate this point more clearly. If proved, it would indeed strengthen the importance of Ha-Kohen’s annotations as evidence for the mediation between elite urban culture and the popular culture more characteristic of the countryside.
To be sure, the use of Ha-Kohen’s records confronts us with very serious methodological problems. For instance, how can we distinguish between what Del Bene effectively said and what Ha-Kohen reports that he said? This is not only a question of hermeneutics. In fact, Ha-Kohen frequently inserts his own comments into the text. How can we be sure that he always remembered to mark his words faithfully? Moreover, his Hebrew text very rarely records samples of the Italian terminology adopted by the preacher, who obviously preached in the vernacular. Ha-Kohen apologizes for resorting to Italian words in cases where he felt absolutely unable to render the preacher’s virtuosic puns properly in Hebrew. Yet, notwithstanding this piece of conventional captatio benevolentiae, he apparently felt quite confident with his capacities. Ha-Kohen’s records provide us with a very valuable piece of evidence.
As far as form is concerned, Del Bene’s sermons were still constructed according to the standard scheme of synagogue preaching, deeply rooted in ancient Jewish homiletical tradition no less than in medieval university practice. They began with a “theme,” that is a biblical verse, taken from the Torah reading of the day, together with a rabbinic saying, the relationship of which to the opening biblical verse seemed extremely difficult to grasp. The preacher was then to engage in detailed exegetical exposition in order to link the two cogently, constantly taking advantage of his hermeneutical effort to convey to the audience his didactic, indeed ideological message. Such a rhetorical model was particularly fitting for the taste of Del Bene’s time, which made the unexpected discovery of meaning an ideal of life no less than a source of aesthetic pleasure attained through stylistic virtuosity. The use of language was to the preacher what brush and colors were to the painter, building materials to the architect, observation of elements and plants to the natural philosopher, dissection of dead corpses to the doctor, or travelling to the adventurer and explorer. In his way, the preacher was to meet the challenge of shaping a wonderful new world on the familiar old foundations. Because of his basic function as mediator between opposites and of unraveler of enigmatic textuality, the preacher embodied the aspirations of the epoch perhaps more than many others. Students of Del Bene’s literary style, as well as of his theory of style, have come to the conclusion that baroque obscurity of style was indeed one of the things of which Del Bene was most proud. In the introduction to Kissot le-Veit David, he even says that publication suffered considerable delay because of the difficulty of finding printers able to understand his plays on words, in order not to “rectify” what seemed to them to be erroneous! On the technical and formal level, Del Bene’s praise of obscurity led to a dizzying display of dual meanings which may recall the baroque theory of metaphor, according to which metaphor represents the proper way of grasping the multiple facets of reality.
People might then have disagreed as to what constitutes the most authentic eloquence. Should it be primarily style or content, the preacher’s ability to epater le bourgeois or his ardent commitment to a just cause? Yet no one would have denied the importance of style in delivering striking antitheses and amazing paradoxes leading to a proper hermeneutic synthesis and unraveling of meaning. We should then expect to find this feature in Del Bene’s sermons as well. To be sure, much of such virtuosity must have been lost in his actual delivery to general audiences. In reading Ha-Kohen’s records, one can scarcely identify the characteristically intricate style of Kissot le-Veit David. Was that a consequence of the conscious choice of the preacher, who opted for intelligibility at the expense of rhetoric, or was it the previously mentioned inability of the listener to grasp the depths of the preacher’s thought? The answer is probably somewhere in between. Del Bene’s actual ability to translate his learned sensibility into a popular sermon must ultimately be read between the lines of Ha-Kohen’s notebook. In what follows I will present two examples of how that process of mediation may have taken place and some conclusions we may possibly draw from them.
I am the snake. I am the snake of reason.
The first example is taken from the sermon delivered during the time of the weekly reading of Va-yehi (Gen. 47:28–50:26). On that occasion Del Bene elaborated on the relationship established between Dan and the serpent in Jacob’s blessing to his sons (Gen. 49:16–17). He attempted to reconcile the basic ambivalence between the idea of the snake, considered almost universally in the Judeo-Christian tradition as a symbol of temptation and evil, with the presence of good beyond evil. On the surface, the dichotomy between good and evil appears to remain intact. Good is eschatologically projected into messianic times, while evil is located in actual reality. Superficially, everything apparently fits inherited medieval mythology; the structural antinomies are expected to be turned upside down only in messianic times. Yet, if we are allowed to draw conclusions from some vernacular insertions into Ha-Kohen’s Hebrew text, we might infer more: beyond the stereotypic messianic inversion of present antinomies, the keynote of that sermon is an amazing, indeed puzzling ambivalence, rich with insights. Ha-Kohen was in this case perfectly right in feeling himself incapable of reproducing the polyvalence of the lofty language used by the preacher. At the beginning of the sermon, Ha-Kohen presents the biblical figure “Dan is a serpent” (Gen. 49:17) accompanied by the vernacular giudizio e discrezione, that is “judgment and discretion.” It is as if the preacher quite clearly stated that if the idea of judgment is conveyed by the name of Dan (associated in Hebrew with the root din, meaning justice and related activities), then the serpent should also convey the idea of discretion, that mental attitude through which we express the correct judgments and proper distinctions that lead to behavior characterized by prudence and moderation. All this, the preacher hints, is also to be found in the Hebrew root naḥash, which conveys the meaning of divining, of knowing what is unknown to others, besides denoting the word “snake.”
It is difficult to decide whether Del Bene openly indicated to his audience the linguistic polyvalence inherent in the Hebrew words in his sermon or not. In order to do this, he might have had to presuppose in his audience a degree of Hebrew knowledge deeper than the one he sadly described in his learned book of essays. Yet the knowledge of Hebrew required to understand Del Bene’s statements was not, after all, so extensive. A rudimentary mastery of Hebrew might have been sufficient to capture the preacher’s basic message. It would be unwise to pronounce definitive judgment before we learn more about the cultural level of Ferrarese Jewry in Del Bene’s time. Unfortunately, notwithstanding its importance, the history of the Jews in Ferrara is still waiting for its historian. This caveat aside, we may assume that since ha-Kohen does not elaborate on this point, Del Bene most likely did not elucidate the polyvalence. Ha-Kohen was sufficiently capable of understanding such a linguistic excursus, if in fact Del Bene had offered it to his audience. We should, therefore, infer that he did not. If this was the case, at least on the linguistic level, the preacher’s mediation between learned and popular culture led to a sharp polarization between those opposites that the baroque sensibility of the educated would, on the contrary, have striven to efface. In other words, the gap between those whom we may label as the literate and the non-literate in the context of seventeenth-century Judeo-Italian society hardly allowed a quantitative gain in knowledge to be converted into a qualitative one. To put it very boldly: the literate thought and spoke one thing, the average audience heard and understood another. This was of course a side effect of the printing revolution and of the “sudden” expansion of reading horizons beyond the limitations of the Middle Ages.
Not only did the various nuances of his message not reach popular audiences, the message itself would thus eventually be transformed. The preacher might be tempted to exploit this situation deliberately in order to present more than one level of meaning. I would suggest that in Del Bene’s time, besides being an immanent trend in preaching, such a doubling of meaning was a compelling necessity. Metaphor might easily slip from the literary field into the social and political one. Change in major areas of traditional thinking was hesitantly taking root in the minds of the educated, including the preacher and the learned among his auditors. Yet such change could not at this stage be expressed overtly to a large audience, and especially not from the preacher’s pulpit. Perhaps the preacher himself might experience some difficulty in formulating his thoughts in a clear-cut manner. What would then prima facie appear to be the inability of the uneducated audience to understand the educated preacher might on further consideration emerge as, at least partly, the deliberate aim of the preacher. In other words, he might choose to be obscure before the uneducated in order to present metaphorically his complex, indeed ambivalent thoughts. In such a way the preacher might appear to advocate continuity when in fact he was hinting at rupture.
If we knew the sources of Del Bene’s ideas in general, we might be in a better position to understand this particular example of his exegesis. Unfortunately, at this stage of our knowledge, we cannot decide if it was only unconsciously that he linked the ophidian mantic with judicial discernment, or if he was actually adapting the biblical etymologies to some notion acquired by his reading of one of the books in which the educated of his age delighted. What we do know quite well however, is that, in Christian symbolism and iconography, while usually conveying the image of the demon, the snake may occasionally have had positive meanings, such as representing the Christ himself. In pictures and emblems of Del Bene’s period, the snake also signified the virtue of prudence.
In presenting the snake as a symbol of prudence and judgment, Del Bene was therefore using current Christian symbolism. His message was thus homologous to the one included in Kissot le-Veit David. In one of the essays included in that book, Del Bene commented upon the success of Christianity as an integral part of the providential design to defeat paganism and hasten the redemption. In his view propounded there, Christianity was an agent of civilization and progress, as indicated by the Christian acceptance of the Hebrew Bible. It is not surprising that, without of course explicitly mentioning Christianity from the synagogue pulpit, he assumed some kind of conceptual affinity between Judaism and Christianity. If so, in a very sophisticated way, perhaps in part even unconsciously, Del Bene was contributing from the pulpit to bringing Judaism and Christianity under the same conceptual roof. As I have argued elsewhere, he was by no means alone in pursuing that path.
The example of the snake imagery may perhaps be somewhat misleading. If Del Bene could have foreseen how some years later Shabbetai Ẓevi would exploit the symbol he was using, he would probably have refrained from using it in the manner he did! Yet this example may also be highly paradigmatic of the revolutionary potential of apparently conventional texts. In fact, both Del Bene and Shabbetai Ẓevi borrowed their messianic imagery from the relevant Zoharic text. Shabbetai Ẓevi’s story may, at least in retrospect, be an indirect confirmation that Del Bene’s conventional imagery might have carried some hidden revolutionary spark. But how can we be sure that this is not a farfetched construction superimposed upon a symbol which lends itself easily to every kind of contrasting idea, and that Del Bene delivered other problematic messages in the same way? My second example will, I hope, be more transparent.
But before proceeding, it may be useful to digress a bit to show how such examples of hidden meaning may be uncovered in the apparently endless repetition of well-known stereotypical messages. In Kissot le-Veit David Del Bene often exerts much effort to stress continuity where, in fact, a deeper analysis uncovers a rupture. Del Bene himself aptly, perhaps subtly, supplies his reader with sufficient means to uncover what we might be entitled to label as the author’s hidden intention—no matter how conscious or unconscious it is. Contrary to the medieval literary tradition of citing one’s sources very selectively, especially when authoritative support was thought to be necessary for the appropriate exposition of the author’s thesis, Del Bene’s practice was strikingly different. He was in fact among the first Jewish authors to supply full references to the sources of the ideas discussed in his essays. A careful reading of Kissot le-VeitDavid would apparently provide a rule: rupture is quite clearly detectable wherever the author displays a great effort to make his reader believe that he is in fact confronted with continuity. To this rule, one may add another one, in part, the inverse of the former: wherever the author displays a great effort to make his reader believe that he is confronted with absolute originality, we may expect to discover strong affinities with already existing trends. For instance, this was certainly the case regarding Del Bene’s literary approach and theory: when he claimed originality regarding his terribly obscure plays on words, he was in fact using, albeit pushing the device beyond any known limits, a well-tested medieval rhetorical device known at least from the Golden Age of Andalusian Jewry. And when he declared his intention to uncover the existing richness of the Hebrew language, in order to compete with Italian contemporary literary production, he was in fact declaring allegiance to a completely new system of linguistic reference.
That the ultimate product appears to us almost totally unreadable should not lead us to undermine the importance of this fact. It might also be formulated as a rule: digging into the inherited legacy of the past with the intention of uncovering its enormous richness, he was in fact departing from that legacy and discovering a new world. The phenomenon would thus be structurally homologous to all other departures and discoveries of the epoch: the departure from the old geographic system following the discovery of the New World, the departure from Ptolemaic astronomy and the option for the Copernican view of the world, and so on. If the degree of exertion displayed in establishing continuities provides us a means for identifying points of rupture in Del Bene’s thought, then we should carefully consider one of his major themes: the traditionally negative view of Judaism towards philosophy. A comparison of his message on this point in his sermons with that emerging from Kissot le-Veit David will reveal interesting differences relevant to our understanding of the mediating function of the preacher between elite and popular culture. Accordingly, I turn to my second example.
Quae supra nos, ea nihil ad nos.
One modern scholar squarely stated that Del Bene’s thoughts on the subject of negating philosophy “possess neither depth nor originality and are a mere reiteration of earlier statements.” On the surface, indeed,
Indeed, why not come to such conclusions, in view of Del Bene’s following statement:
he opposes both philosophy and the sciences on account of the danger inherent to them to the integrity of faith. They undermine not only the belief in miracles, creation, and the revival of the dead, but also spread skepticism with regard to belief in revelation and the immortality of the soul. Moreover, they are neither truthful nor beneficial in themselves. False and pernicious to faith is, above all, metaphysics.…He therefore advises his readers to divert themselves from “speculative, natural, mathematical, or Divine studies” and dedicate themselves only to the Torah.
On more than one occasion he apparently draws straight lines leading, on the one hand, from ancient Greek thought to a contemporary skepticism of religion and a general libertinism and on the other hand from ancient traditional Jewish thought to contemporary fideistic rejection of modern approaches to science, particularly the implications of natural science for metaphysical knowledge. He even supports the latter continuity with the previously mentioned full citation of sources. This is also the clear-cut impression conveyed by Del Bene’s sermons as recorded by Ha-Kohen. In one of them, for instance, he is reported to have preached the dismissal of logic and other sciences, such as arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and natural sciences, on the grounds that all these are unable to lead to the ultimate bliss available only through the study of the Torah. He does not claim that the study of such sciences is pernicious per se. He even adds that “they are permitted to the Gentiles.” But as far as the Jews are concerned, it is written (Ps. 147:19), “He reveals His Words to Jacob.”
Study only this Torah and dispense with the multitude of Arabic, Chaldean, or Greek books which are full of assumptions, premises, and syllogisms—the invention of their authors’ sophistries.
A more thorough investigation of Kissot le-Veit David will eventually reveal that even for the Jews the rejection of Greek science is not as absolute as it might first appear from statements like the above. It will also reveal that the continuity with traditional Jewish thought, asserted by Del Bene, should not be taken at face value. In fact, as one might perhaps infer from the definition of “Arabic, Chaldean, or Greek books” as “full of assumptions, premises, and syllogisms—the invention of their authors’ sophistries,” it was the Aristotelian system of knowledge that Del Bene was specifically attacking. In order to understand this point, let us first remember the entire ensemble of symbolical meanings conveyed in contemporary discussions by the idea of that system. It symbolized primarily the culture of the establishment, of the Church and of the universities. Opposite this stood the Platonic system, as discovered by the Humanists, which only in Del Bene’s time appeared finally to have reached wide public circulation.
The way in which people understood the querelle between Aristotle and Plato, “his Master,” as Del Bene labels him in Kissot le-Veit David, illustrates quite well the complexity of the problem faced by contemporary thinkers. The official culture granted to Aristotle the seal of approval associated with learned, illuminated, and sound analytical rationalism in contrast with popular, obscurantist mythological thought associated with Plato. For average churchmen and university professors, Aristotle was then still the symbol of reason leading to progress, as well as of sane authority. Aristotle was representative of elite culture, of philosophical truth, that is of truth formulated in propositions of universal value. He was therefore a symbol of the order and stability that guarantees prosperity and, at least in the Thomistic adaptation to Christian theology, of ultimate bliss. By contrast, Plato represented popular thought obstructed by its irrational longing for myth, no less than by its sound ignorance, a consequence of the foolish rejection of learning. For average churchmen and university professors, Plato therefore symbolized anticonformist, indeed dangerously revolutionary rejection of authority.
For avant-garde anticonformists, the terms of reference should be turned upside down. For them, Aristotle would, of course, represent the tyranny of authority over reason, the repression of sane epistemological doubt as a result of a desire to hold power firmly in hand. Plato would symbolize fertility of imagination, creative stimulus leading to an illuminating free use of reason; without these progress would be unthinkable. The “historical” Plato, however, poorly fits such an anticonformist, almost revolutionary image. Attention was therefore drawn to Plato’s teacher, Socrates, whose ideas Plato allegedly adopted when describing them in his dialogues. As one modern author concisely put it, Socrates, viewed as anima naturaliter christiana, came to dominate Western philosophical tradition from Montaigne to Descartes, from Rousseau to Hegel, and even beyond. In that epoch of changing attitudes towards knowledge, what Carlo Ginzburg incisively called “the uneasy balance” between daring to know and the traditional warning against intellectual curiosity came to be represented in widely diffused emblem-books by the motto “quae supra nos, ea nihil ad nos,” and was ascribed precisely to Socrates.
As far as one can see, at least from the Jewish perspective, Socrates indeed became the hero of some in Del Bene’s time. He was a martyr of the struggle for the freedom of reason, a model for expressing epistemological doubt as a foundation upon which to conquer the truth. One may find eloquent words in praise of Socrates in Simone Luzzatto’s Socrate, overo dell ’humano sapere esercitio seriogiocoso (Venice, 1651). In this work, Luzzatto declares his intention to liberate the human soul from the nooses with which pretentious knowledge keeps it tightly tied. To this purpose, he engages in the intellectual exercise of reconstructing Socrates’ trial. He imagines the following plot: Reason is imprisoned and oppressed by human authority, begs to be liberated, and is tentatively released. A special box is installed, however, where people can place secret denunciations of the abuses of Reason and the diffusion of wrong doctrines. Socrates is subsequently accused of attempting to destroy human science and is brought to trial. During his trial, he demonstrates that the cause of his doubt concerning the certainty of human disciplines is rooted in reflection upon the controversies of the learned about the principles of natural things. The judges are uncertain of the verdict to be meted out to him. Plato argues that there should be no sentence. The decision is then finally deferred. Yet Luzzatto’s attack on authority is not a hymn to uncontrolled freedom of thought and action. According to him, history develops in the following way: in the far distant golden age, Reason was queen and Authority was her daughter. Authority’s task was then to control stupid people. Inebriated by her own power, she conspired against her mother, and with the assistance of Treachery she imprisoned her. In other words, in a world properly conducted, reason should rightly have authority at its service and exercise it against human stupidity. What in fact happened was an abuse of authority, which turned against its source of power. It thus undermined its own legitimacy. We shall not follow Luzzatto in the details of his exposition. For the purposes of our discussion, we should only add that among the few in Luzzatto’s text who argued in defense of Authority and against the liberation of Reason was Aristotle, while the main line of Socrates’ defence was the basic uncertainty of human knowledge and the inadequacy of the human senses to guide the intellect in its journey towards true knowledge.
Luzzatto’s work was printed five years after Kissot le-Veit David, where the same kind of elegy of Socrates is to be found, and as we may infer, not by chance. According to Del Bene, Socrates taught that the appropriate method for attaining knowledge in the realm of physics is not applicable to metaphysics. Aristotle’s improper use of gnoseology was then a rejection of his master’s teaching, for he was a pupil of Plato, who was in turn a pupil of Socrates. The true rebel of reason was Aristotle, while the Socratic teachings were in fact compatible with religion. Therefore any contemporary philosopher who advocated the excellence of empirical sensory knowledge and of natural science in order to draw conclusions in the metaphysical realm was guilty of a simplistic methodological fallacy equal to that responsible for the belief in magic. Such a philosopher was thus identified by Del Bene as a magician. The implication of such an identification in a century crucial for the shaping of European attitudes towards magic may hardly be overestimated. The sancta simplicitas of Aristotelian thinkers thus became the true equivalent of heresy and sorcery, not the poor women accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake by virtue of the verdicts of Inquisitors, followers of Thomist theology.
It could not be by mere chance that Del Bene calls the Aristotelian thinker philosof pashut, “a simple philosopher.” It is important to note here that Simplicius was Aristotle’s commentator and the nickname of Galileo’s discussant in his Dialoghi dei massimi sistemi. Del Bene even goes a step further. According to him, if metaphysical speculation, which is the domain of religion, is not to be thought of as an organic extension of physical knowledge, then natural science, the most praised aim of human knowledge in his time, should in fact be considered as melakha ve-lo ḥokhmah—an art, not wisdom. One may hardly miss the modernity of such a clear-cut statement, which in fact marks a decisive rupture with the medieval holistic epistemological view.
Perhaps we have overestimated the importance of Del Bene’s mention of Socrates; perhaps his attitude did not differ essentially from the antirationalistic stance of a typical medieval. Perhaps we should interpret his distinction between Socrates and Aristotle as a mere sophisticated rhetorical device to display awareness of contemporary intellectual trends; perhaps he, like a modern fundamentalist, exhibited knowledge of fashionable debates simply as a tactic to fight the enemy in his own field. Why should we not say that in declaring logic, the quadrivium, and natural sciences no longer necessary propaedeutic introductions to metaphysics, Del Bene, in fact, rejected the foundations of rationalistic thought, simply declaring allegiance to the anti-Maimonidean irrationalistic party, following the good old medieval tradition? Why should we look for a gap between the learned exposition of Kissot le-Veit David and the popular sermon recorded by Ha-Kohen? There is no simple answer to this question. But there are many indices pointing to the necessity of dismissing such simple harmonistic suggestions.
Let us begin by noting that Del Bene took great pains to underline that he did consider Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexed as an integral part of the chain of Jewish tradition that opposed “Greek wisdom.” A quick look at the references listed at the end of the chapters of Kissot le-Veit David would immediately reveal that the Guide is cited more than frequently as one of the main sources of Del Bene’s essays. The same is true for his sermons. His attitude towards Maimonides’ works may hardly be explained by the fact that Maimonides was too much a revered figure for Del Bene to declare allegiance to his opponents. Even if he did hesitate to take a clear anti-Maimonidean position, Del Bene might simply have refrained from referring to Maimonides’ philosophical work. Many contemporary thinkers, especially kabbalists, acted that way. We must then conclude that Del Bene was sincere in referring to the Guide as an integral part of Jewish tradition. Nevertheless, Del Bene could not simply agree with Maimonides’ teachings without first removing from them any element which might be inconsistent with his own Weltanschauung. This is apparently what he did. In preaching to his flock on the intellectual perfection which will be reached in messianic times, when the cosmic snake will finally be converted to the service of Good (the same sermon from which we drew our first example), Del Bene explicitly wanted his audience to believe that in Messianic times the obstacles encountered on the way to perfection will decidedly disappear, “as listed by Maimonides in the Guide.” (The reference is of course to chapter 34 of Part One.) Ha-Kohen, however, who apparently took no pains to check the reference, writes here about four kinds of such obstacles—not five, as stated in the Guide. These obstacles are nonetheless five: (1) insufficiency of mind, (2) profundity of matter, (3) length of the preliminaries, (4) bad natural aptitude, and (5) preoccupation with the necessities of the body. At first glance, one might of course think that this is a mere oversight, one based on his faulty memory. Yet it was hardly so. He not only states explicitly that “these four causes hinder attainment of wisdom,” but in explaining his text, he leaves no doubt that he did not forget anything: the fifth Maimonidean cause (that men are occupied with the necessities of the body) is in fact organically inserted within the third (the length of the preliminaries). The result of this apparently insignificant condensation of the Maimonidean text was so far-reaching that Maimonides would undoubtedly have disagreed with what Del Bene, as recorded by Ha-Kohen, encouraged his audience to believe that Maimonides wrote. According to Ha-Kohen Del Bene said that
In other words, the propaedeutic effort that Maimonides identified with the acquisition of the trivium and quadrivium was identified in Del Bene’s sermon simply as the material difficulty of constant study. It might be useful to recall here that when, some three hundred years before, Yehuda Romano, following Thomas, condensed the five obstacles into three, he wrote:
The length of preliminaries will no longer exist, because now we need preliminaries and lengthy preparations from books and teachers; the burdens of the necessity of eating will no longer be an impediment to study. In the time of Redemption, God will be the teacher, and there will be no more need of books, as it is written [Jer. 31:33]: “I will write it on their hearts.” People also will no longer be concerned by the necessities of their bodies, because everybody will be in possession of a house and a field, and will have enough to supply all his necessities.
For Del Bene, as Ha-Kohen recorded his sermons, logic and the quadrivium could simply be dismissed. But why? Are they totally pernicious for human knowledge? At first glance, again from the wording of the sermon as recorded by Ha-Kohen, it would appear that the answer is yes. However, from Kissot le-Veit David we know that Del Bene did appreciate knowledge of logic and the quadrivium for other purposes than for the sake of human perfection. In fact he has Socrates stating that “every science has its proper limit, which may be reached but not surpassed…therefore, one should leave metaphysical speculation and turn to human research and to useful activities aimed at the edification of the world.” There is no condemnation of studying logic and quadrivium. Del Bene’s concern is rather with those who insist in extending the Aristotelian categories of thought and the methods proper to the quadrivium to the realm of the divine.
Human perfection is impossible, except through [a knowledge of] all the sciences and their systematic study, that is, learning first things first and last things last. That which comes first is the study of logic, which teaches the way of all sciences. And after is the quadrivium.…And after the quadrivium comes natural science, which requires lengthy study, it being acquired through experience.…After natural science, practical philosophy which requires lengthy study, it being acquired through experience.…And after all the sciences here described must come the divine science which lies beyond the bounds of the senses and imagination and requires a strong and upright soul.
If so, in opposing “Arabic, Chaldean, or Greek books, full of assumptions, premises, and syllogisms,” Del Bene was not simply following the medieval antirationalistic stance. Contrary to what might be inferred from an uncritical understanding of the elaborate sentences of Kissot le-Veit David, as well as from their popular translation into synagogue sermons, rather than reject “Greek wisdom” in toto, Del Bene was reconsidering its significance in the overall structure of human knowledge. He was beginning to capture the essence of the humanist revolution in a way most humanists did not themselves yet realize: Del Bene was begin- ning to reject the medieval conception of the opposition between the secular and the religious in terms of mutual exclusion, in order to assign the first a thisworldly function, and the second an otherworldly one. He was also departing squarely from the belief in the harmonic congruence between reason and faith, which was one of the pillars of medieval thought. In showing an awareness of the humanist discovery of the structural opposition between Greek wisdom and religious perception, Del Bene was in fact proposing a way to overcome the impasse. Rather than reject Greek culture, he was releasing it from the tight embrace with religion and theology that was imposed upon it by the medieval mentality. Rather than reject Greek culture, Del Bene was rejecting the idea of the essential unity of the physical and metaphysical worlds. Indeed he felt that such an assumption, after having served medieval men in transforming everything into something religious, was now serving contemporary freethinkers, still prisoners of the medieval mentality, in their efforts to transform everything into the secular. If we are right in such an understanding, Del Bene’s views may well be considered as genuinely modern.
To be sure, departure from the Maimonidean system of thought, following the necessity of departing from the medieval Weltanschauung, had to be performed smoothly, indeed almost imperceptibly. If Ha-Kohen, who was an educated man, did not perceive anything unusual in recording Maimonides’ teaching as he did, we must say that in his effort to stress the orthodox continuity of his Weltanschauung, Del Bene was successful in stressing continuity when in fact he was contributing to a major rupture. As he was mediating between elite culture and popular culture, our preacher was also demonstrating his ability to mediate between the Middle Ages and the modern era. As we have said, it would perhaps stand to reason that he was not fully conscious of what he was formulating. And, if he was, he wrapped up his message in a cloak of obfuscation, typical of the baroque period. In any case, the deep change that was hesitantly going on in the minds of few, remained imperceptible to average people. Listening to Del Bene’s sermons, one might very well miss the point. Haziness and even obscurity were indeed necessary for the inception of the process.
Del Bene’s aesthetic literary ideal fits very well into its general framework. Besides his declared effort to demonstrate that Hebrew can effectively compete with Italian in richness and fluidity of expression, he displays in Kissot le-Veit David a clear consciousness of innovation. In fact he declares himself proud of the rhetorical and stylistical expressions he is the first to use. Consciousness of originality and novelty went hand in hand with the aesthetic ideal of obscurity. Such a writer could hardly be expected to overtly formulate a clear-cut system of thought. Yet he might be expected to formulate a hesitant beginning of real novelty in an obscure, almost metaphorical way. If double sense and obscurity in literary style may be considered characteristic elements of the Geist of Del Bene’s context, we should expect him to turn to them whenever he performs any significant literary activity. If so, it would certainly be wrong to give a univocal interpretation precisely to those statements which were of major importance for him. I would argue that this is also an argument in favor of our previous understanding of Del Bene’s views vis-à-vis secular studies.
We may then understand why many of the themes hinting at novelty and change in Kissot le-Veit David were apparently absent from the sermons Ha-Kohen recorded. It is not necessary to assume that Del Bene never mentioned them at all. For our limited purpose, it suffices to note that Ha-Kohen did not record them. One of these themes is the convergence of Judaism with Christianity. It emerges quite evidently from Kissot le-Veit David, and was in fact recently illuminated in scholarly research. It may be considered as the natural consequence of separating human secular activity and knowledge from the realm of faith. Should we be prepared to understand modern ecumenism as free of hidden missionary intentions, that is, as the cooperation of men of faith beyond diversity of religion who share a common desire to oppose the expansion of secularism, Del Bene’s message might, without exaggeration, be labeled as ecumenism ante litteram. Here too, proceeding outward from the center of the rabbinic establishment, a modern Jewish outlook was taking shape. Yet it was a very strange and ambivalent alliance, indeed, as were most baroque alliances between disparate contrasting elements. After having declared overt hostility to the Aristotelian official philosophy of the Church, this rabbi found himself now allied with churchmen in fighting the application of naturalistic methods to theology and in identifying them with sheer libertinism. In other words, this rabbi found himself allied with Counter-Reformation Catholic attitudes and fears. By the same token, he found himself allied with Counter-Reformation Catholic attitudes in many other fields; for instance, in favoring Inquisitorial censorship of books or in reacting to the apparently obsessive contemporary interest in sexuality. Yet, contrary to the theme of the convergence of Judaism with Christianity, the theme of sexuality is feebly present in Kissot le-Veit David, while it is heavily treated in the sermons. In other words, if we may be allowed to generalize from these two specific cases, the list of the themes usually dealt with in sermons may be expected to differ radically from that of the themes treated in learned books. If so, we might formulate some kind of rule and state that a comparison of sermons actually delivered with the literary production of the elite culture may provide a method for measuring the degree of diffusion of cultural change already noted in elite literary production.
We may now apply that rule to the different ways the two types of sources mention a departure from the medieval system of thought. After centuries of critique of Maimonidean thought, the dismissal of the propaedeutic necessity of logic and the quadrivium for the formation of a traditional religious outlook might be considered perfectly acceptable. This dismissal would consequently be offered without qualification to popular audiences, as if all secular studies were to be considered as harmful as the much despised Aristotelian philosophy. Yet in the learned essays of Kissot le-Veit David qualification was introduced, through the crucial distinction between the Aristotelian and the Socratic legacies, which constituted a real novelty in that epoch. This is why the rejection of logic and the quadrivium in the sermons appears differently from their rejection in Kissot le-Veit David. A more thorough analysis of Del Bene’s sermons as recorded by Ha-Kohen may provide more support for this conclusion.
One more point should be stressed. The inception of changing attitudes towards the relationship between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the secular, was taking place in the mind of a rabbi, a representative of the established Jewish culture, and was organically linked to contemporary trends of thought. To put it boldly, revolution proceeded from the center of the Jewish establishment to the periphery. At least on the surface, Del Bene’s opposition to undisciplined learning also determined some kind of virtual alliance between the rabbi and the Catholic establishment. In a sense, rabbis such as Del Bene accomplished a function within Jewish society similar to that accomplished by Jesuits among Christians. They strove to cope with the inception of modernity and secularism without causing any damage to religious faith. They even acted as vehicles of modernity and secularism within Jewish society.
Comparative study of Del Bene’s works is only at its initial stage, yet it appears highly promising. It must be carried on in the near future, by me as well as by others. Should the emergence of other comparative studies of elite literary production and of sermons delivered to large audiences be added to the one hesitantly presented here, we will have taken a considerable step forward in understanding the mechanism of aligning popular culture with the achievements of elite culture. For this is ultimately the root of real cultural and social change.
1. Isaac E. Barzilay, Between Reason and Faith. Anti-Rationalism in Italian Jewish Thought, 1250–1650 (The Hague, Paris, 1967), pp. 210–217. [BACK]
2. Giuseppe Sermoneta, “Aspetti del pensiero moderno nell’ebraismo italiano tra Rinascimento e età barocca” (Rome, 1986), pp. 17–35. Cf. Robert Bonfil, “Change in the Cultural Patterns of a Jewish Society in Crisis: Italian Jewry at the Close of the Sixteenth Century,” Jewish History 3 (1988): 11–30. [BACK]
3. As far as I know, this particular aspect of preaching has not so far received much scholarly attention. See Robert Bonfil, Rabbis and Jewish Communities in Renaissance Italy (Oxford, 1990), pp. 298–316. For Jewish preaching in general, see, of course, Marc Saperstein, Jewish Preaching, 1200–1800: An Anthology (New Haven, London, 1989), where the pertinent literature is exhaustively listed. See also Saperstein’s introductory essay in this volume. [BACK]
4. Ms. Budapest-Kaufmann A 455. I was given the opportunity to use the microfilm in possession of the Institute of Microfilms of Hebrew Manuscripts in Jerusalem. Israel ben Abraham Ha-Kohen is listed in the files of the Institute of Microfilms as having copied Ms. Rab 1508 of The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and H 178 A/1 of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, Paris. [BACK]
5. For instance: Volontaria follia, piacevol male, stanco riposo, utilità nocente, desperato sperar, morir vitale, temerario timor, riso dolente; un vetro duro, un adamente frale, un’arsura gelata, un gelo ardente, di discordie concordi, abisso eterno, paradiso infernal, celeste inferno (G. B. Marino, Adone, 6, 174). See also David B. Ruderman, A Valley of Vision: The Heavenly Journey of Abraham ben Hananiah Yagel (Philadelphia, 1990), p. 71, n. 1. [BACK]
6. Especially worthy of mention here is the one delivered for the parashah of Mikkeẓ and Hanukka (on the theme of Judith and Holophernes): pp. 128–134. On the very interesting figure of David Del Bene, very little has so far been written. See David Kaufmann, “The Dispute about the Sermons of David Del Bene of Mantua,” Jewish Quarterly Review o.s. 8 (1896): 513–524. See also the essay by Moshe Idel in this volume. [BACK]
7. One for the parashah of Vayehi, which falls frequently near Hanukka (pp. 153–163); one for the parashah of Mishpatim, which falls frequently near Purim (pp. 237–244); five for different days of Passover (pp. 340–341; 352–353; 361–369; 384–385; 395); one for Shabbat ha-Gadol, the Saturday preceding Passover (p. 437); and the remainder for different Saturdays falling in the period immediately preceding or following Passover: two for the parashah of Shemini (pp. 397–401; 411–420); one for the parashah of Taẓria-Meẓora (pp. 411–420); one for Kedoshim (pp. 411–420); one for Emor (pp. 411–420); and one for Behar-Beḥukkotai (pp. 411–420). [BACK]
8. To my mind, there is no doubt that sermons were actually delivered in the vernacular, interspersed with Judeo-vernacular idioms. A sample of such a text, written down by a preacher who lived in the same cultural context as Del Bene, although a little earlier, may be seen in Robert Bonfil, “Aḥat mi-derashotav shel R. Mordecai Dato,” Italia 1 (1976): i–xxxii. But cf. with Saperstein’s discussion, Jewish Preaching, 1200–1800, pp. 39–44, and see the essays of Saperstein and Idel in this volume. [BACK]
9. Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, Introduction, p. 13: “The reader should not accuse me of inventing verbs and nouns in several places which are not found in the Hebrew language, since the density of the subject and the language’s limitation obliged me to do it.” [BACK]
10. I have briefly discussed this model in my Rabbis and Jewish Communities in Renaissance Italy, loc. cit. Joanna Weinberg has recently argued that Del Bene’s age may have witnessed some departure from the medieval model and that evidence of this is apparently to be detected in Leone Modena’s preaching practice. See her essay in the present volume. Such a development would in principle certainly not be impossible. Having outlined Elijah de Veali’s eighteenth-century traditional model of Italian Jewish preaching, I remain skeptical. For de Veali’s model, see Robert Bonfil, “Shteim-Esrei Iggeroth Me-et R. Eliyahu b. Shlomo Raphael Ha-Levi De Veali” (Twelve Letters by R. Elijah b. Solomon Raphael Ha-Levi De Veali), Sinai 71 (1972): 163–190. [BACK]
11. Kissot le-Veit David, 2, 9. [BACK]
12. For what follows, I am indebted to Dr. Ariel Rathaus, who is preparing a thorough study of Del Bene’s literary theory. [BACK]
13. See, for instance, Wilbur Samuel Howell, “Baroque Rhetoric: A Concept At Odds With Its Setting,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 15 (1982): 1–23. [BACK]
14. Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, pp. 153–163. [BACK]
15. Kissot le-Veit David, 2, 9. See Robert Bonfil, “Halakhah, Kabbalah and Society; Some Insights Into Rabbi Menahem Azariah da Fano’s Inner World,” Jewish Thought in the Seventeenth Century, ed. Isadore Twersky and Bernard Septimus (Cambridge, Mass., 1987), p. 61; idem, “Change in the Cultural Patterns” (supra n. 2), p. 19. [BACK]
16. This point was suggested to me by Professor Walter Cahn of Yale University, whom I thank here very much. [BACK]
17. See, for example, Louis Reau, Iconographie de l’Art Chrétien (Paris, 1955), vol. 1, pp. 98–99; Lexikon der Christlichen Ikonographie, ed. von Engelbert Kirschbaum (Rome, Freiburg, Basel, Vienna, 1972), vol. 1, s.v. Schlange, colls. 75–82, and Tugunden, colls. 364–380, and esp. 378. [BACK]
18. This point was strongly made by Sermoneta, art. cit. See also Bonfil, “Change in Cultural Patterns,” pp. 20–21. [BACK]
19. Bonfil, “Change in Cultural Patterns,” loc. cit. [BACK]
20. I am indebted for this paragraph to Dr. Ariel Rathaus’s findings, which he was kind enough to share with me before their publication. [BACK]
21. Barzilay, Between Reason and Faith, p. 211. [BACK]
22. Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 3. Quoted by Barzilay, p. 21. [BACK]
23. Sermon for the section of Mishpatim, Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, pp. 237–244. [BACK]
24. Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, p. 240. [BACK]
25. Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 4 [BACK]
26. On the main cultural trends of the period, see Paul Renucci, La cultura, in Storia d’Italia 2** (Turin, 1974), vol. 6: Il Seicento—Dalla selva barocca alla scuola del classicismo, pp. 1360–1445; Alberto Asor Rosa, La cultura della controriforma (Bari, 1979). For an example of the formulation of most of the ideas here mentioned, one may read Sforza Pallavicino’s typical characterization of Plato vs. Aristotle:
See Trattatisti e narratori del seicento, a cura di Ezio Raimondi, in La letteratura italiana (Milano-Napoli, 1960), p. 226. In reading these lines, one should bear in mind that Sforza Pallavicino (1607–1667) was a cardinal, and therefore a genuine representative of the Catholic establishment. He was also author of a Trattato dello stile, which deals especially with the issue of the rhetorical use of wonder, focusing on themes similar to those dealt with by Fenelon in his Dialogues on Eloquence; see W. S. Howell, “Baroque Rhetoric,” cit. [BACK]
“Platone in filosofare fu sempre vago di proposizioni meravigliose, e però lontane dalla credenza popolare. Pertanto fu anche in maggior venerazione del popolo, il quale tanto reputa i letterati superiori a sè nell’intendere, quanto li vede a sè differenti nel credere, e più riverisce per sapienti coloro da cui egli è più strapazzato per ignorante. Anche i poeti, come quelli che hanno per livrea de’ loro componimenti il mirabile intessuto col verisimile, si fornirono al fondaco non d’Aristotele, ma di Platone, unico nello spacciar maraviglie non derise, ma venerate, e però credute. Aristotele s’inviò per contrario sentiero. Tanto fu alieno dal tracciar lo stupore del volgo, che si elesse per maestro il volgo medesimo, e su’ primi e più rozzi ed universali concetti della maraviglia appoggio le colonne della sua filosofia: la quale, quanto per tal modo fu più sincera, tanto riuscì finalmente più fortunatadella platonica. E videsi tra lor quella differenza che suol essere tra le poesie e l’istorie: quelle, come audaci in mentire, così più meravigliose e però più gustose; queste, come riverenti del vero, così più autorevoli e però più pregiate e più fruttuose. Tal giudizio ha dato di questi due gran maestri il testimonio non errante del tempo.”
27. Jacques Brunschwig, “Socrate et Ecoles Socratiques,” Encyclopaedia Universalis, corpus 16, col. 1098. [BACK]
28. Carlo Ginzburg, “High and Low; The Theme of Forbidden Knowledge in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” Past and Present 73 (1976): 29–41, and particularly p. 33 and n. 22. See David B. Ruderman, Kabbalah, Magic, and Science: The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1988), pp. 103, 205, n. 5. [BACK]
29. “Attendere la libertà dell’animo humano inviluppato da lacci, con quali l’ardito e troppo pretendente sapere lo tiene legato & stretto.” [BACK]
30. Note here also that “uneasy balance” between authoritative warning against improper use of reason and the necessity of freedom of thought, perfectly coherent with the attitudes toward the theme of forbidden knowledge, already quoted above, n. 28. [BACK]
31. Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 4 (f. 11 [=16]a); 1, 8 (f. 19 [=23]b). [BACK]
32. Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 9 (f. 13b). As Prof. Joanna Weinberg very pertinently noted, there was a medieval tradition (for instance, in the Secretum Secretorum) which considered Aristotle to be a magician. It stands to reason that such a tradition was known to Del Bene as well as to part of his audience. It is therefore possible that we have here one more example of Del Bene’s assigning new meanings to well-known medieval concepts. [BACK]
33. For instance, Kissot le-Veit David, loc. cit. [BACK]
34. For a similar conclusion on the separation of naturalistic learning from Aristotelian metaphysics, and its subsequent linkage with traditional Jewish, even kabbalistic thought, in this period, see David B. Ruderman, “The Language of Science as the Language of Faith: An Aspect of Italian Jewish Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Anniversary Volume in Honor of Shlomo Simonsohn, forthcoming. See also the essay of David Ruderman in this volume. [BACK]
35. Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, p. 160. [BACK]
36. Yessodato be-harerei Kodesh, loc. cit. [BACK]
37. See Giuseppe Sermoneta, “Prophecy in the Writings of R. Yehuda Romano,” Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, vol. 2., ed. Isadore Twersky (Cambridge, Mass., 1984), pp. 361–362. [BACK]
38. Kissot le-Veit David, f. 11 [=16]a. [BACK]
39. Kissot le-Veit David, f. 17a. [BACK]
40. This theme is dealt with in Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 8. [BACK]
41. See Bonfil, “Change in the Cultural Patterns,” pp. 13–14. [BACK]
42. See above, n. 12 [BACK]
43. Kissot le-Veit David, 1, 8; Sermoneta, “Aspetti del pensiero moderno nell’ebraismo italiano”; Bonfil, “Change in the Cultural Patterns.” [BACK]