Azaria Piccio

Azaria Piccio (Hebrew: עזריה בן אפרים פיגו, Azarya ben Efrayim Figo; 1579–5 or 6 February 1647) was a Venetian sofer (scribe) and ba’al darshan (preacher) who served in the Jewish communities of Venice and Pisa.[1]

Born in Venice and originally a scholar of things secular,[2] Piccio eventually devoted himself to the study of the Talmud.[3] Owing to his background, his preaching was heavily laced with scientific, especially medical, references.[3] His sermons were also composed according to Classical models.[4] He was especially close to his mentor Leone da Modena,[5] with whom he shared an openness toward the Modern world.[3] David B. Ruderman writes that “while [Piccio] argues for the insufficiency of the sciences, he clearly does not dismiss their validity altogether.”[3]

Piccio was the author of Iggerot vetshuvot (“Letters and Responsa”), published within Issacar Eilenburg’s Be’er sheva (Venice, 1614).[6] As rabbi in Pisa, he wrote Giddule truma (1643),[7] a commentary on Shmu’el haSardi's Sefer hatrumot. A compilation of 75 Sabbath and holiday sermons that he delivered in Venice was published under the title Bina le’ittim (1647–1648),[8] a work which remains popular to this day, particular among Mizraẖi Jews.[9]

Piccio had two sons, Lazzaro and Efrem, who together wrote a commentary on Yeruẖam ben Meshullam’s Toldot Adam veH̱avva. Both Piccio’s sons died during the 1629–31 Italian plague.

Piccio died in Rovigo on 5 or 6 February 1647 and was buried there. He is considered to have been “one of the last great talmudists produced by Italian Jewry”.[2]


  1. Lieber, C. (2006, May 3). Jewish Venice longs to return to its scholarly roots. Religio. Retrieved from
  2. 1 2 Bloch, A. P. (1987). One a day: An anthology of Jewish historical anniversaries for every day of the year. Jersey City: KTAV.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ruderman, D. B. (1992). Jewish preaching and the language of science: The sermons of Azariah Figo. In D. B. Ruderman (Ed.), Preachers of the Italian ghetto. Berkeley: University of California.
  4. Szulwas, M. A. (1973). The Jews in the world of the Renaissance. Leiden: Brill.
  5. Ruderman, D. B. & Idel, M. (2001). Jewish thought and scientific discovery in early Modern Europe. Detroît: Wayne State University Press.
  8. Schäffer, I. (2015, March 6). Familiarity breeds contempt. The Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah Online. Retrieved from

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