Saraval, Jacob Raphael ben Simhah Judah

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SARAVAL, JACOB RAPHAEL BEN SIMHAH JUDAH (1707?–1782), Italian rabbi, man of letters, and musician. Saraval was born in Venice. He was one of the rabbis of Venice who supported Jacob *Emden in his dispute with Jonathan *Eybeschutz. He communicated with the English scholar Kennicott on subjects of biblical philology. In 1752 he was appointed rabbi of Mantua and many of the documents in the communal archives bear his signature. During the 1760s and 1770s he traveled to Holland and England on behalf of his community. When the antisemitic lawyer Giovanni Battista Benedetti of Ferrara published his Dissertazione della Religione e del Giuramento degli Ebrei at the beginning of the 1770s, Saraval rejoined with Lettera apologetica (Mantua, 1775). He was also known as a preacher, poet, and composer of piyyutim, and engaged in various branches of secular culture – arts, literature, and music – in which fields he wrote many works. In addition he translated from various languages. One of his translations, the libretto of Handel's oratorio Esther (apparently done at the request of the Jews of England and Holland), is one of the first free verse translations from English to Hebrew without recourse to the traditional meters.

Among his translations from Hebrew to Italian are: Avot (Venice, 1729, with Simeon Calimani); Ḥovot ha-Levavot of *Baḥya ibn Paquda (Avvertimenti all'anima, Venice, 1806); and various piyyutim from the Sephardi liturgy. He wrote the Kinat Sofedim (Mantua, 1776) to commemorate the earthquake in Mantua which claimed 65 Jewish victims. On returning from his travels in Holland and England, he wrote Viaggi in Olanda (Venice, 1807) on his Dutch journey.


Steinschneider, in: mgwj, 43 (1899), 569f.; C. Roth, History of the Jews in Venice (1930), 341–3; Schirmann, Italyah, 401–7; idem, in: Zion, 29 (1964), 78–79; Gorali, in: Taẓlil, 2 (1961), 73–84; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 2 vols. (1962–64), index; I. Levi, in: Il Vessillo Israelitico, 53 (1905), 58f.

[Abraham David]