R. Elijah Benamozegh was a 19th century rabbi and kabbalist, who wrote many works of biblical commentary and Jewish responsa, but is chiefly known in the non-Jewish world for his book on religious universalism, Israel and Humanity.

Israel and Humanity is quite singular in that it shows an orthodox rabbi incorporating non-Jewish religious sources (esp. Christian verses) in order to advocate his vision for a Noahide world coexisting with a Jewish one. In 2005, R. Adin Steinsaltz wrote an essay, "Peace without Conciliation," that quoted R. Benamozegh (on Benamozegh's assertion that "Christianity is but a distorted Kabbalah") to support his own view of correcting gentile nations and live according to Noahide laws.

Nevertheless, I have heard, but cannot source, that most rabbis disapprove of R. Benamozegh's theology. Can someone help me out here? I don't know another religious Jewish person here in Israel who has even heard of him, and the English translation of Israel and Humanity is from a Catholic Publisher (Paulist Press).

So, what rabbinic literature has been written about R. Benamozegh's Noahide works, from his lifetime to today? Is he accepted and learned in orthodox institutions (and why not)? Is it appropriate to study his works generally, and his Noahide theology specifically?

  • 2
    Cristianity is but a distorted Kabbala. Well, at least we can assume he believed in a very ancient Kabbala or we would have to ask which came first and which is a distortion of which?
    – user6591
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:14
  • There is a little bit of information here, but you should try her if you're looking for authority on the matter.
    – WAF
    Sep 18, 2014 at 19:09
  • That link that @WAF provided is intriguing, but can anyone get it to run through translation software? I am having trouble...
    – Mike
    Sep 19, 2014 at 1:28
  • @aryeh. To address one point raised in your post, the Sonico Press Chumash, edited by the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Rabbi Dr. J H Hertz, referenced pages of non-Jewish sources. Based on comments made, the rabbi apparently held extreme regard for the Authorized Revised Version of the King James Bible.
    – JJLL
    Sep 19, 2014 at 21:54
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    @Aryeh I am an Italian noachide, so Rav Benamozegh was a compatriot of mine, having been born and lived in the city of Livorno. I simply limit myself to observe that among the Italian Jewish communities, all belonging to Orthodox Judaism, Rav Benamozegh is considered an important master.
    – Amos74
    Apr 14, 2019 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


While R. Elijah Benamozegh was apparently somewhat controversial in his day, he is hardly a "unquotable" figure: R. David Zvi Hoffmann and R. Mendel Kasher quote him in their work repeatedly, his work בשבילי המוסר was published by Mossad Harav Kook, and he is included in R. Avraham Bick-Shauli's anthology of Jewish thought. R. Yoel Schwartz (of Meah Shearim) quotes him in many of his seforim, he is the father of the modern Noahide movement, and he was one of the most original Jewish thinkers of the past 200 yrs. See also this post by R. Natan Slifkin.

In fact, Benamozegh was a kabbalist who wrote two defenses of Kabbalah, one titled טעם לשד, responding to the attack of Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) and a second called אימת מפגיע (I,II), responding to the critique of Leon de Modena, ארי נוהם. The fact that Benamozegh is not quoted may be more of an indication of people's ignorance about him than anything else. I recommend reading his work for yourself.

See also here.

  • He was a great talmid chcham. The mainstream of judaism reject also ideologies not because apikorsut accusation but because not adapted. Chazon Ish e.g. was thinking that the german orthodox stream was not adapted for his time in Israel but he did not say that this way was pasul
    – kouty
    Oct 8, 2016 at 18:59
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    @kouty where is this Chazon Ish about German Orthodoxy? Oct 13, 2016 at 14:53
  • Yes but I did not read it I think that it was a correspondance with Rav Desler concerning a Seminar for rabanim in England
    – kouty
    Oct 13, 2016 at 15:30
  • @Matt ^^^ appears to be a response to your question.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 14, 2016 at 20:27

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