רמח”ל היה יהודי אשכנזי – Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto was an Ashkenazic/Yekkishe Yid!

I have been gradually going through the great new work הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא (three volumes, Bamberger edition), put out by Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz a few months ago. At first, I hesitated in buying it, due to the price (which has since come down some) and due to my wondering if it was mostly a work of Yekkishe history, and therefore not of such great interest to the broader public, or to people who seemingly had no connection to Feurth, such as myself. At the end I did get a copy and am happy that I did so, because it is not just a narrow and boring work, relevant to a small group. Rather (as typical of the author’s works) it has broad relevance and there are surprises there, you see things you wouldn’t expect as well. There seems to be a chapter on every Rav/Rosh Yeshiva of Feurth. But Rabbonim from other parts of Europe are discussed as well, because the Rabbonim of Feurth usually held other positions in other places before and/or after they came to Feurth. And the broad discussions of various episodes in their lives reach far and wide.

As an example of one of the interesting tidbits in the ספר, in the course of a discussion of the controversy surrounding Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, it is brought out (volume I, p.426), that contrary to popular belief today that Ramchal was a Sepharadi (there are even Sepharadic botei medroshim that bear his name, according to Rav Hamburger), he was actually of Ashkenazic/Yekkishe background. Yes, that’s right. The great רמח”ל, author of Mesilas Yeshorim, and great Kabbalist, among other things. The name Luzzatto is an Italian version of the German name Lausitz, which is derived from Lausatia, an area in Germany, from which the family came. The Luzzattos later spread out in the Venice area, so they were an Italian-German Jewish family. Ramchal davened in the Yekkishe Shul in Padua where he was born, and we even have the machzor from which he davened, and one can see that it is a Ashkenaz/Yekkishe machzor, which includes the old Ashkenazic/Yekkishe nusach, such as the words וישמחו בך ישראל אוהבי שמך in the Shabbos shemoneh esreh.

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