Luzki (Lucki), Simḥah Isaac ben Moses

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LUZKI (Lucki), SIMḤAH ISAAC BEN MOSES (1716–1760), Karaite scholar and spiritual leader, known also as "the Karaite Rashi" and "Olam Ẓa'ir" (the latter meaning literally "microcosm" – acronym based on the gematria of his name). In the introduction to most of his works he mentioned that he was the son of Moses son of Simhah, son of Joseph son of Yeshu'a (died in Derazhne in 1649 during the Chmielnicki revolt), son of Simḥah, son of Yeshu'a, son of Samuel, of a noble family. He was born in Lutsk and resided there until 1754, when he moved to Chufut-Qaleh by invitation of the rich patron Mordecai ben Berakhah, one of the heads of the local community, to become the head of the bet midrash after the demise of its head, Shmuel ben Josef *Kal'i. Luzki held that position until his death in Chufut-Qaleh.

Luzki copied many rare Karaite manuscripts and wrote about 24 books on various subjects. His treatises were devoted to such topics as Karaite halakhah (esp. laws of ritual slaughter, calendar) – Akedat Yiẓḥak (ios A52, jnul mic. 52308), Sha'arei Ẓedek (jts mic. 9089, jnul mic. 49546), etc.; history of the split (ḥilluk) between Rabbanism and Karaism; and exegesis of Karaite texts.

His book Me'irat Einayyim (1750; Ashdod, ed. Yosef Algamil, 2002) is a compilation of halakhah, exegesis, and historiography with a historical and bibliographical account of Karaism in its second part, Ner Ẓaddikim. His well-known treatise Oraḥ Ẓaddikim (1757) is an abridgment of Ner Ẓaddikim (Oraḥ Ẓaddikim, Vienna, 1830). It contains also important bibliographical material – a list of most of the Karaite books, the names of their authors and biographical details about some of them. Luzki introduces a traditional apologetic Karaite claim, that the split between Rabbanism and Karaism began during the First Temple period with the division of the Jewish state into two kingdoms. Some of Luzki's works were devoted to Kabbalah, philosophy, and theology. According to his own assertions, he was forced to study Kabbalah from books, because the Rabbanites refused to teach him (see Livnat Sapir, ed. Yosef Algamil, Ashdod (2002), 32–33). In his six treatises on Kabbalah (Sefer Bereshit (1746), Olam Ẓa'ir (1748), Rekhev Elohim (1750), Kevod Melakhim (1750), Sefer ha-Tapu'aḥ (1751) (Evr I, 707 [jnul mic. 51379]), Livnat Sapir (1756); Kevod Elohim (1751; Algamil ed., Ramle, 2000)) Luzki explains main concepts of the Lurianic Kabbalah, such as sefirot, divine names, and Hebrew letters. There is no innovation in these works, except for the very attempt to make Kabbalah acceptable to the Karaites. Luzki knew about modern science, but rejected it as speculative (Kevod Melakhim, ed. Yosef Algamil, Ashdod, 2002). He also wrote an exegetical work, Be'er Yiẓḥak (1737); Or ha-Ḥayyim (Yevpatoriya, 1847), an extensive commentary on the philosophical work by Aaron b. *Elijah of Nicomedia, Eẓ Ḥayyim; Torei Zahav im Nekuddot ha-Kesef; a guide to the commandments of Jewish law (Algamil ed., 1978), and many other works.

Luzki also composed liturgical poems and a number of prayers. Some of them were included in the Karaite siddur. Most of his views and his philosophical theology were based on medieval science, which he combined with Lurianic Kabbalah.

Luzki acquired his knowledge from numerous Rabbanite sources, which he often quoted in his works (e.g., Maimonides, Rashi, Saadiah Gaon, Ibn Ezra, Naḥmanides, Joseph Albo, Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Judah Halevi, Ḥasdai Crescas, Profiat Duran, Yashar of Candia etc.). He continued the earlier Karaite trend of understanding most of Rabbanite literature as "the words of our forefathers." Luzki also cites such non-Jewish sources as Greek and Roman philosophers Plato, Aristotle, and Seneca; and such Arab thinkers as al-Ghazālī and al-Tabrizi.


F. Astren, in: M. Polliak (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to its History and Literary Sources (2003), 55–64; D.J. Lasker, in: D. Shapira (ed.), Eastern European Karaites in the Last Generations (in press); D. Lasker, in: Shefa Tal (2004), 171–90 (Heb.); Mann, Texts, index, 1588.