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.
Born in Venice and originally a scholar of things secular, Piccio eventually devoted himself to the study of the Talmud. Owing to his background, his preaching was heavily laced with scientific, especially medical, references. His sermons were also composed according to Classical models. He was especially close to his mentor Leone da Modena, with whom he shared an openness toward the Modern world. David B. Ruderman writes that “while [Piccio] argues for the insufficiency of the sciences, he clearly does not dismiss their validity altogether.”
Piccio was the author of Iggerot vetshuvot (“Letters and Responsa”), published within Issacar Eilenburg’s Be’er sheva (Venice, 1614). As rabbi in Pisa, he wrote Giddule truma (1643), 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), a work which remains popular to this day, particular among Mizraẖi Jews.
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”.
- Lieber, C. (2006, May 3). Jewish Venice longs to return to its scholarly roots. Religio. Retrieved from http://www.coveringreligion.org/2016/05/03/jewish-venice-longs-to-return-to-its-scholarly-roots/.
- Bloch, A. P. (1987). One a day: An anthology of Jewish historical anniversaries for every day of the year. Jersey City: KTAV.
- 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.
- Szulwas, M. A. (1973). The Jews in the world of the Renaissance. Leiden: Brill.
- Ruderman, D. B. & Idel, M. (2001). Jewish thought and scientific discovery in early Modern Europe. Detroît: Wayne State University Press.
- Schäffer, I. (2015, March 6). Familiarity breeds contempt. The Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah Online. Retrieved from http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/831463/rabbi-ian-shaffer/parshat-ki-tisa-familiarity-breeds-contempt/.