The Renegade

In the Footprints of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose – sold at auction

Rabbis from North Africa Leghorn and Pisa had always seen many. In the Napoleonic period and at the beginning of the nineteenth century there was a real invasion. They all generally wore a black cloak with a turban and supported, sometimes rightly, that they were experts in Kabbalah. A rabbi of Algerian origin, David Ajash, of a good rabbinical family, was born in Italy. He was certainly learned and could read Hebrew and Latin, having given it a large demonstration in a commentary on the ritual of Passover. But “the Aiash”, as they called him in Livorno, was also debauched and pleasure-loving as everyone knew. He appreciated very much women beyond the commitments undertaken towards his family and did not disdain to attend females of easy virtue, smoking with them opium pipes and consuming aphrodisiac oysters prohibited by rabbinic law. Libertine by choice he did not believe in the water he drank, as the jews of the town of Four Moors, Leghorn, murmured behind his back. He could from time to time be a rabbi, an atheist Jew and even be moved to Christianity, plunging his head without hesitation into the waters of the baptismal font. But he sincerely believed in the Kabbalah, as much as someone like him could believe in sincerity. At least he had a sacrosanct fear, expressed in a thousand forms: magic amulets, enchanted seals, miraculous talismans. He wandered from one city to another, from Tuscany to the Holy Land, from Paris to Thessaloniki, in an impossible search for himself. An extraordinarily modern man, but with ancient sediments, which he intended to betray without succeeding, loving and hating himself in the same way. He was looking for the warmth of female eyes that often lied to him and he knew it, but he could not do anything about it. He had earned many friendships, even high-ranking ones, but even more numerous enemies who were plotting behind his back. Synagogues and churches, crucifixes and stars of David, brothels and silent places of worship were his impossible and unsolved world. When they found him dead under an olive tree in Nablus in Palestine on a rainy day no one was astonished. All hypotheses could be taken into consideration: that he committed suicide or that someone had cruelly killed him. This enigma had to remain unresolved forever and each of us can now try to offer an acceptable solution or answer to one’s beliefs. So it’s if we want to. Everything is relative and subjective. The Aiash knew this well, through direct experience.

Rights Sold: Neri Pozza [Italy]