||Yonat Elem, a sermon from his epic in Kabbalah, Asarah Ma'amarot by R. Menahem Azariah of Fano (1548–1620), Italian rabbi and kabbalist. The scion of a wealthy family and a prolific author, he was a recognized authority on rabbinic law and the foremost exponent in the West of the kabbalistic system of R. Moses Cordovero. Under the influence of R. Israel Sarug, who during his stay in Italy spread the knowledge of the mystical system of R. Isaac Luria, R. Menahem Azariah became an admirer of the latter, though without departing from the system of R. Moses Cordovero. A pupil of R. Ishmael Hanina of Valmontone in Ferrara, he was active in Ferrara, Venice, Reggio, and Mantua. Together with his brothers he aided the victims of the earthquake of 1570. He was a patron of Jewish learning, contributing funds for the publication of such works as R. Cordovero's Pardes Rimmonim (Salonika, 1584) and R. Joseph Caro's commentary Kesef Mishneh (Venice, 1574–76) on Maimonides' Code.
Fano's fame as a talmudist is borne out by the collection of 130 responsa bearing his name which was published in 1600 in Venice and in 1788 in Dyhernfurth. His style of writing was precise and he displayed considerable originality in the views he expressed. He enjoyed great popularity as a teacher, attracting students from far and wide, from Germany as well as Italy. One of his disciples compared him to an angel of G-d in appearance. His gentleness and humility showed themselves in his refusal to answer adverse criticism leveled against him by a contemporary scholar on account of certain statements he made with regard to the ritual of the lulav on the festival of Tabernacles. Amadeo Recanati dedicated to him his Italian translation of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed; R. Isaiah Horowitz praised his theological treatise Yonat Elem (Amsterdam, 1648) saying of it, "the overwhelming majority of his words, and perhaps all of them, are true, and his Torah is true" (introduction to Novelot Hokhmah (Basle, 1631) by R. Joseph Delmedigo). Seventeen of his works have been published. These include a summary of the legal decisions of R. Isaac Alfasi and his own major work on the Kabbalah, entitled Asarah Ma'amarot (only parts have been printed, Venice, 1597); Kanfei Yonah (Korzec, 1786), a kabbalistic work on prayer; and Gilgulei Neshamot (Prague, 1688) on the transmigration of the soul. Many of his kabbalistic interpretations must have been made for the first time in the course of sermons delivered by him. Extant in manuscript are liturgical poems, elegies, comments on the teachings of R. Isaac Luria, and a voluminous correspondence. He passed on in Mantua.
Berit Menuhah (The Covenant of Rest), one of the main works of the Kabbalah by R. Abraham b. Isaac of Granada, Spanish kabbalist. Nothing is known of his life or of the era to which he belongs. In the introduction to his commentary on Sefer Yezirah, R. Moses Botarel gives a long quotation from Sefer ha-Berit written by a scholar called R. Abraham b. Isaac of Granada. But both language and contents prove that this book was not written by the author of Berit Menuhah, which was without doubt composed in Spain during the 14th century. It explains the innermost meaning of the vocalization of G-d's name in 26 different ways. However, only the first ten ways were printed, and this only in a very corrupt form (Amsterdam, 1648): R. H.J.D. Azulai saw more than twice this number in a manuscript. The actual content of this work is very enigmatic as, in many respects, its symbolism and mysticism do not correspond with the conventional Kabbalah. The influence of R. Abraham Abulafia's Kabbalah is recognizable but the language-and-letter-mysticism of R. Abulafia is combined with a complicated light-mysticism. Moreover, the book's aim was to provide a systematic basis for the so-called Practical Kabbalah. The few clear passages reveal the author as a profound thinker and visionary. In eight places, he quotes his own thought process as the words of “the learned Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai,” mostly in Aramaic. But these quotations are not to be found in the Zohar, and in view of their style and contents do not belong there. The work was highly regarded by later kabbalists, especially by R. Moses Cordovero and R. Isaac Luria, who read their own thinking into R. Abraham's symbolism. R. Cordovero wrote a lengthy commentary on part of the book. R. Abraham quotes two more of his own works, Megalleh ha-Ta'alumot (“Revealing Hidden Things”) and Sefer ha-Gevurah (“The Book of Power”), on the names of G-d and Practical Kabbalah.