יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Rav Shmuel Eliezer Eidels – The Maharsha

Rav Shmuel Eliezer Eidels was one of the greatest commentators of all time. His works are printed at the end of the Gemara and many of the Acharonim (later commentators) toiled extensively to understand his teachings

David Sofer 23/11/2009 11:26
The great Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Eidels was born in Krakow in the year 5315 (1555), to Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi. As a young man he travelled to Posen where he married the daughter of Reb Moshe Ashkenazi Halperin. His wealthy mother-in-law Rebbetzin Eidel (by whose name he became known as ‘Eidels’) supported him and all his numerous students for twenty years, between 5345 (1585) and 5365 (1605). After her passing the Maharsha was left without financial support and was forced to accept a position of Rabbanus, in the city of Chelm.

Jewish Children in Krakow []

In the year 5374 (1614), when the Maharsha was fifty-nine years of age, he was appointed as Rav in Lublin, and then at the age of seventy (in 5385 / 1625), he became Rav in Ostrow where he founded a large Yeshiva. On the doorpost of his house (which was burnt down in 5649 / 1889) he engraved a verse from Iyov: “Outside will not sleep the stranger, my door to the guest I will open”.

The Maharsha compiled two famous works on the Talmud: ‘Chidushei Halachos’ and ‘Chidushei Agados’. In Chidushei Halachos, one of the most widely used Sefarim since the days of the Talmud, he expounds on the words of the Gemara in intense depth and sharpness. In his introduction he acknowledges that because he prefers brevity, he will not dwell at length in his discussions - and indeed his commentary consists of very short explanations, to the extent that at times it is difficult to understand his meaning. In many places he finishes his discourse with the words ‘Vedok’ (l’dakdek bedavar – the matter needs clarification) or ‘Vekal’ (kal lehavin, easy to understand). The Acharonim toiled at length to understand his cryptic words. Frequently he raises a difficulty, and concludes ‘V’yesh leyashev’ – there is an answer; and many a Torah scholar has since struggled to find these answers. There are entire Sefarim that deal solely with the questions of the Maharsha which concluded with those obscure words: ‘…there is an answer’.

In his commentary to the Talmud he would first clarify the words of Rashi and the Baalei Tosfos. In general the Maharsha would go through the tractates of Shas according to Rashi and Tosfos, which is why his Sefer gained such widespread popularity over the generations. The understanding of Gemara together with the Maharsha’s commentary is considered the most pronounced sign of a well-versed Torah scholar.

In his Sefer ‘Chiddushei Aggados’, the Maharsha attempts to explain many perplexing Aggados by way of logic. At times he claims that a particular Aggada is merely a parable to explain a certain message, and then he goes forth to reveal what this hidden message is. Despite his well known disapproval of those people who ‘spent their days pursuing the wisdom of Kabbalah’, he himself brings up many points from various mystical works in this very Sefer, Chidushei Aggados. He was also very well versed in philosophy, and used this knowledge to explain various Aggados throughout the Talmud.

One example of his original way of understanding a concept is his opposition to the claim that the verse ‘Elaka d’meir Aneini’ refers to the Tanna Rebbe Meir himself. A widespread custom is to recite this verse in conjunction with a picture of the famous gravesite of Rabbi Meir baal HaNess is Teveria. The Maharsha did not agree that there is a connection between the verse itself and the Tanna, since Hashem has never attached His holy Name to any human being besides for our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov (as in Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak v’Elokei Yaakov). Therefore, argues the Maharsha, the entire verse is referring to Hashem Himself, who lights up the world and those who live in it with mercy. ‘Elaka d’meir, the G-d who lights up the world, answer us!’

The two famous Sefarim of the Maharasha, Chidushei Halachos and Chidushei Aggados, were written separately and were also printed separately. This was in spite of the fact that in the end the Maharsha intended for them to be combined together.

The Maharsha rebuked the people of his generation for various commandments that they were lax in: He spoke out against those who drank wine to intoxication on Motzaei Shabbos at the Seudah of Melave Malka, thereby neglecting the Mitzvah of Krias Shema before sleeping, and furthermore arising late the next day after the time for Krias Shema and Tefilla had passed. He also spoke strongly against the pursuit of luxuries with regards to clothes and houses; he decried the lack of respect given to Torah scholars, and he spoke out against improper business ethics. These amongst many other matters disturbed him greatly.

He was heard to place blame on the Rabbanim of the times for ruling over their communities with motives other than fear of Heaven, and that they allowed themselves to be nominated for the sake of money and honor. The Maharsha participated in the famous ‘Vaad Arba Aratzos’ (Committee of the Four Lands) in the year 5350 (1590), where he declared a ban on those who ‘purchased’ their Rabbanim for money.

The Maharsha was held in high esteem by Torah giants throughout the generations. Rabbi Yonah Lansdorfer instructed his sons to delve deeply into the words of the Maharsha, since “His words are written is astounding brevity, and are deeply entrenched in the truths of the Torah, and without the help of Ruach haKodesh (divine inspiration) it would have been impossible for a mere mortal to have produced a Sefer of such calibre”. Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the revered ‘Chazon Ish’, wrote in one of his letters that were the study of the Maharsha’s commentary ever to cease, the pathways of clear explanation to the Talmud would be abandoned.

Two Sides of the Introduction to the ‘Vaad Arba Aratzos’ Book []

The Maharsha passed away on the 5th of Kislev 5392 (1632), at the age of seventy-seven. On his gravestone he is described as “a holy man, the wonder of the generation, his name was widely known from the east to the west. He lit up the eyes of the wise men of Israel with his great works”.

 the Chazon Ish[]