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Calimani, Simḥah ben Abraham


CALIMANI, SIMḤAH BEN ABRAHAM (Simone ; 1699–1784), poet, playwright, grammarian, translator; worked as a rabbi in Venice, his native city. As a poet, Calimani composed several wedding poems (e.g. Kol Simḥah ve-Shirei Yedidut, ("The Voice of Happiness – or of Simḥah – and Poems of Friendship," Venice, Bragadina, 1758; many still in manuscript). His drama in three acts, Kol Simhah o Nizu'aḥ ha-Hokhmah ("The Voice of Happiness – or of Simḥah – or the Victory of Wisdom," Venice, 1734), was also written as a wedding poem: it describes in allegorical form the superiority of Wisdom (assisted by Intelligence) over Stupidity (assisted by Envy). Tohakhat Megullah ("An Open Rebuke") belongs to the genre of moral dialogues: it denounces the vices of contemporaries, including the use of Kabbalah without adequate preparation. Both Kol Simhah o Nizu'aḥ ha-Hokhmah and Tohakhat Megullah are written in endecasyllabic lines, with the rime mi-le-'eyl (accent on the penultiamte syllable), like most Italian poetry of the time.

As a grammarian, Calimani composed Klalei Leshon Ever ("Rules of the Hebrew Language") appended to a Venetian edition of the Bible (Foa, 1739) and reprinted several times, also separately. The treatise was translated into Italian by the author and published with a short description of Hebrew poetry (Grammatica ebrea spiegata in lingua italiana, Venice, Bragadina, 1750, and Pisa, Molho, 1815). Among his works in Italian are a translation of Pirkei Avot (with J. Saraval) and Esame ad un giovane ebreo istruito nella religione (Gorizia, Tommasini, 1783, and other editions). The latter was adopted as a textbook in the Jewish school of the community of Mantua, at least until the first decades of the 19th century.


B. Frizzi, "Elogio dei rabbini Simone Calimani e Giacobbe Saravale," in: B. Frizzi, Elogio del rabbino Abram Abenezra: letto in una accademia letteraria in casa del signor Abram Camondo (1791); Ḥ. Schirmann, Italyah, 410–22; idem, Le-Toledot ha-Shirah ve-ha-Dramahii (1979), 194–216; Y. David, "Toḥakhat Megullah le-Simḥah Calimani," in: Bamah 95–96 (1987), 5–37; P. Bernardini, La sfida dell'uguaglianaza (1996), 110–11, 341.

[Alessandro Guetta (2nd ed.)]

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