||Wide ranging homiletic novella following the weekly Torah portion by R. Elijah b. Abraham Solomon ha-Kohen ha-Itamari (b. 1729), one of the outstanding preachers of his time. Born in Smyrna, where he was educated and became a homiletic preacher. His opposition to Shabbetai Zevi and his associated earned him much grief at home. He is best remembered for his ethical work Shevet Mussar, which has seen numerous edition (to this date) and been translated into many languages.
R. Elijah was a prolific writer; about 30 of his works are extant, some in print, others in manuscript; his lost works are known only from references to them in his own writings. The following are among his extant works: Me'il Zedakah (Smyrna, 1731), an ethical work dealing with the question of charity; Midrash ha-Ittamari (Constantinople, 1695; Salonica, 1725), a homiletical work consisting of sermons on various subjects, many of them ethical (e.g., charity and repentance). Because of this work, Elijah became known in Hebrew literature as Elijah ha-Kohen ha-Ittamari; Midrash Talpiyyot, novellae on various subjects, collected, according to the author, from the 300 books listed in the preface. Only the first half of this work, arranged in alphabetical order, was printed (Smyrna, 1736). Minhat Eliyahu (Salonika, 1824), 33 sermons, or chapters' on ethical subjects. The rest of his works includes several other ethical-homiletical collections, commentaries on Psalms, on other parts of the Bible, on Pirkei Avot, the 613 commandments, prayers, rabbinical sayings related to the various Torah portions, and on the aggadot of the Jerusalem Talmud. In addition, R. Elijah wrote several responsa, some to questions sent from far away. It is possible that he also dabbled in magic; many legends, which can be found in Ladino folktales, were related about him.
The teaching of ethical behavior, however, was R. Elijah's main purpose. He made extensive use of the vast ethical literature of the Middle Ages, both early and late, from Sefer Hasidim to the Shenei Luhot ha-Berit, by R. Isaiah ha-Levi Horowitz. In the sermons, ethical writings, and exegetical works, he also used kabbalistic literature, in which he was well versed. Later writers of homiletics and ethics, the author of the famous Hemdat Yamim, for example, made use of his works.
Social problems are a basic concern in his thought. The social and economic gap between rich and poor disturbed him, and some of his sermons are devoted to the question of theodicy: R. Elijah dwells at length upon the heavenly rewards of the poor and the just after death while vividly describing the horrible punishment awaiting the wicked. His preaching displays a strongly negative attitude toward the benefits derived from this world, and his listeners are asked to renounce all its joys, even purposely to take suffering and hardship upon themselves.