Section: Stories Category: Gedolim Biographies
|Ramchal - A Short Life Filled With Persecution In The Aftermath Of Shabsai Tzvi|
|After seeing the Mesilas Yesharim, the Vilna Gaon said that if the Ramchal were still alive he would travel across Europe by foot to learn from him. Unfortunately the Ramchal, who lived a short life, filled with persecution and suspicion, was niftar when the Vilna gain was just 17 and the two never met.|
Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto or commonly known as the Ramchal, was born in the Jewish ghetto in Padua, Italy in 5467/1707. The Ramchal was a talmid of Rav Yeshayahu Bassan one of the gedolim of Italy at the time. One of the Ramchal's close peers and student Rav Yekusiel Gordon wrote in a letter that the Ramchal knew the writings of the Arizal by heart and at the age of 15 he wrote his first sefer on Kabala.
The turning point in the Ramchal's life was at the age of 20 when a Magid started to appear to him to teach him the secrets of Kabbala. The Ramchal wrote down what he learned from the Magid and a group gathered around him, whom he taught Kabala. This being just over 50 years after the Shabsai Tzvi scandal rocked the Jewish world, the Rabbonim of Italy were quite upset at the situation, especially Rav Moshe Chagiz. The Ramchal was persecuted and threatened with being put into Cheirem.
After years of fighting the Ramchal's conceded not to write down the teachings of the Magid and things reached somewhat of a truce. However unhappy with his inability to write, in 1735 the Ramchal left Italy for good heading to the more liberal confines of Amsterdam and hoping to enjoy freedom from his persecutions and restrictions. Passing through Frankfurt, Germany on the way, the Ramchal hoped to gain a sympathetic ear from the Rabbonim there, only to be met with even fiercer hostility. He was forced to sign another concession that he would not learn Kabbala until the age of forty and never teach or write again.
Eventually he did find peace in Amsterdam and it was there that he wrote his classic work, Mesilas Yesharim, a fundamental sefer of the mussar movement that would flourish a hundred years later. Below its mussar veneer, the Mesilas Yesharim is said to contain much kabalistic insight. During his tenure in Amsterdam the Ramchal was appointed Rosh Yeshiva.
In 1743 at age of 36, the Ramchal set off with his family to Eretz Yisroel. Not much is known about the Ramchal's life in Eretz Yisroel other than that it was short lived. The Ramchal and his family perished in a plague in the year 1746 at the young age of 39, just three years after arriving to the shores of Eretz Yisroel.
The Ramchal left many seforim behind. It is said that to gain a glimpse of the Ramchal one must learn all his seforim, for a single sefer cannot tell the entire picture. Each sefer reveals another piece of the puzzle. While his generation was not zocheh to drink from his sweet waters, we who live 250 years after his death have a great appreciation although limited understanding, of the treasure that Hashem sent to this world. Yehi Zichro Boruch!