Glossary of Personalities

Ramchal

Is a name by which Rabbi Luzzato is commonly known and is a Hebrew acronym for Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, scholar and teacher of Jewish ethics who lived in the 18th Century. Among his works, the Mesillas Yesharim, or Path of the Just, stands out both as an introduction to traditional Jewish philosophy, and as a steady guide for the committed individual who wishes to devote him- or herself more sincerely to appropriate moral conduct from a Jewish perspective in the 18th century.

Rabbi Akiva

Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph (approx. 15-135 C.E.)

A poor, semi-literate shepherd, Rabbi Akiva became one of Judaism’s greatest scholars. He developed the exegetical method of the Mishnah (codified Oral Tradition), linking each traditional practice to a basis in the biblical text, and systematized the material that later became the Mishnah. Rabbi Akiva was active in the Bar Kokhba rebellion against Rome. He believed that Bar Kokhba was the Moshiach (messiah), although he recanted when certain events proving the opposite took place. Rabbi Akiva, defying Roman decrees against publicly teaching Torah, eventually suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Roman authorities and tortured to death.

Vilna Gaon

in full Elijah Ben Solomon Zalman, also called by the acronym Ha-gra, from Ha-gaon Rabbi Eliya-hu, also called Elijah Gaon born April 23, 1720, Sielec, Lithuania, Russian Empire

died Oct. 9, 1797, Vilna [now Vilnius, Lithuania] The gaon (lit. “genius”) of Vilna, and the outstanding authority in Jewish religious and cultural life in 18th-century Lithuania.

Born into a long line of scholars, Elijah traveled among the Jewish communities of Poland and Germany in 1740-45 and then settled in Vilna which was the cultural center of eastern European Jewry. There he refused rabbinic office and lived as a recluse while devoting himself to study and prayer, but his reputation as a scholar had spread throughout the Jewish world by the time he was 30. As a mark of nearly universal reverence, the title gaon, borne by the heads of the Babylonian academies and virtually extinct for many centuries, was bestowed upon him by the people.

Elijah’s scholarship embraced mastery of every field of study in the Jewish literature up to his own time. His vast knowledge of the Talmud and Midrash and of biblical exegesis, as well as of mystical literature and lore, was combined with a deep interest in philosophy, grammar, mathematics and astronomy, and folk medicine.

Saadia Gaon
Egyptian born Jew. Saadia ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi (892- 942). Saadia was head of the Academy at Sura. Saadia advanced in his teachings and writings the basic Torah concepts of affirmation of God’s unity, human freedom, providence, sinner in intermediate state between infidel and true believer, human obligation to do good and prevent evil and affirmation of God’s absolute omnipotence.
Radak

Kimhi also spelled KIMCHI, KIMHI, OR QIMHI, byname RADAK (acronym OF RABBI DAVID KIMHI), ALSO CALLED MAISTRE PETIT, European scholar of the Hebrew language whose writings on Hebrew lexicography and grammar became standard works in the Middle Ages and whose reputation eclipsed that of both his father, Joseph Kimhi, and his brother, Moses, a grammarian. Born circa 1160, Toulouse, France, died circa 1235, Narbonne?

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, a renowned authority on Kabbalah and Chassidut, has been making the profound wisdom of the Jewish esoteric tradition accessible to seekers of Jewish spirituality for over 25 years. From his base in Israel, Rabbi Ginsburgh teaches as well as oversees the production of numerous original works on Jewish mysticism–all through the aegis of the Gal Einai Institute in Israel. Rabbi Ginsburgh lives with his wife and children in the rural Chassidic settlement of Kfar Chabad. He teaches all across the Land of Israel, from modern Tel Aviv to the ancestral towns of Shechem and Hebron in Judea and Samaria where many of his students are reclaiming ancient Jewish rights of settlement. His audiences include yeshiva students and academics, chassidim and businessmen, housewives and politicians.

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