Fourth leader of the Karlin - Stolin dynasty, known as the "Beit Aharon", the title of his book. At age 25, he succeeded his father, Asher I, as Rebbe of Karlin. However, as a result of a dispute with a wealthy family in Karlin, he was compelled to relocate to nearby Stolin. He died in 1872, while en route to his granddaughter's wedding, and was buried in Mohilev.
Aaron Samuel ben Israel Kaidanover was a 17th century Polish-Lithuanian rabbi. Among his works were responsa, annotations on the Talmudic tractates of Kedoshim, a commentary on Piskei HaRosh, and a partly kabbalistic commentary on the Chumash. He was the rabbi of Cracow at the time of his death.
Don Yitzchak Abarbanel, often referred to simply as Abarbanel, was a Bible commentator, philosopher, apologist, financier and statesman. Born in Portugal, he displayed a great mastery of both Jewish and secular learning from his youth. His precocious abilities in financial matters attracted the attention of King Alfonso V of Portugal, who appointed him royal treasurer. He used his great wealth and position to help free Jews sold into slavery in Morocco. When Alfonso died in 1483 and Abarbanel was falsely accused of conspiring against the king, he fled for his life to Toledo in Castille, leaving behind a large fortune which had been confiscated. There he devoted himself to composing his famous Biblical commentary. He also answered the call of Queen Isabella and contracted as supplier of the royal army and tax farmer, lending significant sums to help fund the Moorish war. When the Edict of Expulsion was issued, he strove mightily to have it rescinded, offering a fortune to the crown to no avail. He left with his brethren and settled in Naples. When that city was overtaken by the French, he again was forced to leave without his possessions, following his patron to Sicily, Corfu, and finally, to Venice. His apologetic works argued for the Jewish idea of the Mashiach, his exegetical works were unique in that they took social and political issues into consideration, and in his philosophical works he several criticizes many of his Jewish philosophical predecessors.
French Talmudic scholar in early 13th century who was at the forefront of the opposition to the study of philosophy. He corresponded with many of his contemporaries, most notably Rashba, who took up his cause and signed a proclamation banning the study of philosophy prior to age 25. R' Abba Mari published his correspondence under the name "Minchat Kenaot".
Avraham Gombiner (Magen Avraham) was a Polish rabbi and posek whose rulings have had a decisive impact on Ashkenazic practice. After his parents were killed in the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648, he moved to Leszno. He served as rabbi in Kalish for many years, and his extreme humility prevented his great Torah learning from gaining him wider recognition. Only when the Shach visited the town and revealed his greatness did he assume a more senior rabbinic position. His great work, "Magen Avraham" on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim was published posthumously, as he did not have the funds to publish it during his lifetime. He incorporated Polish customs and kabbalistic practices in his work, often derived from the Shelah.
Halachic authority in Constantinople around the middle of the seventeenth century. Author of "Lev Sameach", a commentary on Maimonides' Sefer HaMitzvot, which aims to defend Rambam's positions from Ramban's objections. His responsa under the same title was published in Thessaloniki in 1793. His commentary on Tur has never been published.
Author of several Kabbalistic works, most notably "Chesed L'Avraham". Born in Morocco, Abraham actualized his dream of emigrating to the Holy Land in 1610. Upon arrival in Egypt, the ship he had traveled with sank after all the passengers had disembarked. In commemoration of this miracle, his signature from that point on is in the shape of a ship. He had many prominent descendants, the most famous being Chida — his great- great- grandson.
Abraham Cohen was a Jewish-British scholar who had a Ph.D. from the University of London. He was one of the editors for the Soncino books of the bible, and participated in the Soncino translation of the Talmud and Midrash Rabbah. He also served as rabbi of the Singers Hill Synagogue.
Halachic codifier, author of "Chayei Adam" and "Chochmat Adam". He was born in Danzig, and studied in Prague under R' Ezekiel Landau. After completing his studies, he was offered a rabbinic position in Vilna, but he declined, preferring instead to occupy himself as a merchant. However, later in life circumstances compelled him to accept the position. Other works of his are: "Zichru Torat Moshe" - a summary of the laws of the Sabbath; "Kitzur Sefer Charedim" - an abridgement of the classic Sefer Charedim by R' Elazar Ezkari; "Toldot Adam" - a commentary on the Passover Haggadah.
Chassidic Rav and Posek in 18-19th century Galicia, also known as the "Eshel Avraham," the title of his commentary to Shulchan Arukh Orach Ḥayyim; At age 20 he became rabbi of Yazlovets, where he became acquainted with the Chassidic masters R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and R' Moshe Leib of Sassov, who introduced him to Chasidism. In 1813 he succeeded his late father-in-law, author of responsa 'Neta Sha'ashuim,' as rabbi of Butchatch and retained this position until his death. He authored the following works: "Da'at Ḳedoshim," commentary on Shulchan Arukh Yoreh De'ah; "Divrei Avot," commentary on Pirke Avot; "Birkat David," aggadic commentary on Genesis; "Machazeh Avraham," commentary on the Pentateuch, and "Chazon David," on the other Biblical books; "Amarot Ṭehorot," on the purification of Niddah and vessels, in Judæo-German; "Tefillah L'David," on benediction and prayer; and "Tehillah L'David," on Psalms.
Avraham Saba was a Spanish teacher and exegete who spent much of his life fleeing persecution. He was born and raised in Castille, and with the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, fled to Portugal, only to be expelled again in 1497. His two sons were taken from him and forcibly baptised as Christians. He was arrested in Lisbon and tortured, but eventually escaped to Fez in Morocco. He had to flee without being able to recover his writings, which he had buried under an olive tree in Lisbon to avoid the punishment of death decreed on anyone possessing books or tefillin. He later rewrote from memory the works he had to abandon, and those versions were published and gained him renown.
Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in 16th century Greece. Author of the comprehensive commentary "Lechem Mishneh" on Rambam's Mishneh Torah. He also wrote novellae on Talmud, of which his commentary to Bava Kamma has been published, as well as responsa entitled "Lechem Rav". He died at age 43 during a plague in Saloniki.
David ben Yosef Abudraham (mid. 14th century) was a Spanish rabbi and commentator on Jewish liturgy. His best known work is Sefer Abudraham, one of the earliest and most widely accepted commentaries on Jewish liturgy. He was closely connected to the Rosh and his son, R. Yaakov Ba'al HaTurim.
Noted contemporary Chassidic scholar and author of over 60 books. His most famous work is the Hebrew translation of the Talmud, known as the Steinsaltz edition. His complete English translation of the Talmud is available on Sefaria as the William Davidson Talmud.
A student of Ramban and a grandson of R. Zerachya haLevi (the Ba'al haMeor), he was involved in the Talmudic discussions of the Spanish rabbis of his time. This led him to write a gloss on Rashba's Torat HaBayit called Bedek HaBayit as well as a commentary on several volumes of the Talmud. Most scholars deny the claim that he was the anonymous author of Sefer HaChinukh.
Living at the time of Chmielnicki pogroms, he suffered greatly at the hand of the Cossacks, moving several times just to stay alive. Eventually he moved to Austria and different parts of Germany, serving as rabbi and head of the court in various important communities. He ended his career as rabbi and head of the court in Crakow. Due to the many Jewish men killed in the troubles, he became an expert on the topic of agunot and other related matters.
Noted for his brilliance as a child, he became a scholar of halacha and was the rabbi of the large Jewish community of Posen for the last twenty years of his life. He was a staunch opponent of the nascent Reform movement and the introduction of secular studies into Jewish schools, but he is best known for his many sharp comments on the Talmud and on the Shulchan Arukh. He adopted his uncle's last name to honor him for teaching him Torah early in life.
Alexander Sender Schorr was an 18th-century Polish talmudist and rabbi for a period in Hovnov, Belz district. He made a living selling vodka, and is known for his works Simla Chadasha, Tevuot Shor, and Bekhor Shor.
Moshe Alshikh (Alshikh HaKadosh) was a rabbi, preacher and Biblical commentator of the Ottoman Empire. He was a student of R. Yosef Karo in Adrianople and of R. Yosef Ṭaiṭazaḳ in Salonica, and after moving to Tzfat in the Land of Israel, counted R. Chaim Vital amongst his pupils. He served as head of two different yeshivot and, by his own testimony, devoted the overwhelming majority of his time to the study and teaching of halacha. It is well known that he would only begin to compose his famous Shabbat sermons a few hours before the start of Shabbat. Large crowds consistently attended these sermons and his words were often repeated without attribution. To combat this and prevent others from commiting the serious crime of Torah plagiarism, he published these sermons in the form of a Torah commentary. He was one of the few scholars who received semichah (full rabbinic ordination) from his teacher, R. Yosef Karo, after it had been renewed by R. Yaakov Berav. He was revered by his contemporaries and the following generations and is one of the very few sages to be referred to popularly as "Hakadosh."
Galician Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, author of two major Halachic works on Shulchan Arukh: "Ketzot HaChoshen" on Choshen Mishpat, and "Avnei Meluim" on Even HaEzer. In his youth, he authored "Shev Smat'ta", a profound discussion of various Talmudic topics. He served as Rabbi of Stryi (located in Galicia at the time) from 1788 until 1812.
Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg lectures on the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic thought at academic, psychoanalytic, and Jewish educational institutions around the world. In 1995 she received the National Jewish Book Award for Genesis: The Beginning of Desire. She lives in Jerusalem.
Avraham Bornsztain was a leading posek in late-nineteenth-century Europe and founder and first Rebbe of the Sochatchover Hasidic dynasty. He is known as the Avnei Nezer ("Stones of the Crown") after the title of his posthumously-published set of Torah responsa, which is widely acknowledged as a halakhic classic. A child prodigy, he was a close talmid of the Kotzker Rebbe, eventually becoming his son-in-law. After the Kotzker Rebbe's death, Bornsztain became a Hasid of his uncle, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, the Chidushei HaRim of Ger. Following the latter's death in 1866, he became a hasid of Rabbi Chanoch Henoch of Alexander. Bornsztain’s main interest was his learning, and his responsa cover all four sections of Shulhan Arukh, published posthumously as "Sheilot Uteshuvot Avnei Nezer". His other work is "Eglei Tal" on the 39 Melakhoth of Shabbat. Other works on the Torah have been collected and printed. His only son, Shmuel, author of Shem MiShmuel, succeeded him as Rebbe.
Rabbi Avraham Dov Auerbach of Avritch (1765-1840), a chasidic rebbe in Europe for forty years and in Tzfat for ten, was a disciple of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and of the first two Rebbes of the Chernobyl dynasty.
Chassidic leader, founder of the Apt-Zinkov-Kopishnitz dynasty, disciple of R' Elimelech of Lizhensk and R' Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov. He served as rabbi in Kolbuszowa and later in Apt (Opatów), as a result of which he is always referred to as the Apter Rav, although he held many other rabbinic positions. As a result of communal strife he was forced to leave his rabbinic post, and subsequently settled in Mezhbizh, the home of the Baal Shem Tov and the center of Chasidism, where he devoted himself completely to the study and dissemination of Chasidut. His legendary love for the Jewish people earned him the title "Ohev Yisrael", which is the name of his Torah commentary.
Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook was one of the major Torah personalities of the early 20th century and influential leader in both Lithuania and the Land of Israel. A master of many facets of Jewish literature, he wrote halachic and aggadic works, as well as philosophical and mystical tracts, responsa and commentaries. His voluminous correspondence covers a wide range of topics. In 1904, he move to the Land of Israel to serve as chief rabbi of Yaffo. He organized a famous tour of leading rabbis of the Old Yishuv to see first-hand the developing communities of the pioneers of the New Yishuv. He also strongly promoted Jewish return to agriculture, giving further halachic support to an earlier ruling allowing Jews to work the land in the Sabbatical year if it was sold for that year to non-Jews. In 1914 he travelled to Europe to attend the world Agudat Yisrael convention and was stranded there upon the outbreak of World War I. He spent the war in Switzerland and England, and had a great impact upon the Jewish communities there. Upon his return to the Land of Israel after the war, in 1917, he was appointed Rabbi of Jerusalem and, in 1921, the first Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel. He also founded the yeshiva known today as Merkaz Harav to train a new cadre of scholars who would be conversant in prevalent cultural modes and capable of explicating Jewish practice and teaching in a manner which would speak to the young, nationally passionate but religiously disassociated pioneers.
Avraham ben Nachman Chazan was a Breslover rabbi known for his extreme asceticism. The son of a close disciple of R. Natan of Nemirov (Rebbe Nachman's amanuensis), he assumed the leadership of the Breslov Chassidic community in Uman after the latter's death. After his father's death in 1884, he began committing to writing many of Breslov's oral traditions, ultimately publishing them in his work Kokhvei Or. In 1894 he moved to Jerusalem, but returned to Uman in the Ukraine annually for the gathering of Breslov Chassidim at the grave of Rebbe Nachman on Rosh Hashanah. One journey took him to Radzin where, as result of his meeting with R. Gershon Henech Leiner (Ba'al HaTechelet), some Breslov Chassidim began putting techelet (blue strands) on their tzitzit. During his trip to Uman in 1914, World War I broke out and he was forced to remain in Russia, where he remained until his death.
He followed in his father's footsteps and took over all of his duties at 18, when the latter died. Thus he became leader of the Jewish community (nagid) and court physician in Egypt. His was able to use his great talents in these capacities, as well as in the writing of many works, foremost among them a defense of Rambam's writings.
Azriel of Gerona was a Spanish kabbalist. He was the teacher of Ramban in Kabbalah. His kabbalistic commentary on a number of passages of the Aggadah was one of the first works of Kabbalah to be made known publicly. His colleague, Rabbi Ezra, was also a well-known kabbalist. (Some claim that they were actually brothers, but this is not certain.) His explanation and elucidation of the idea and details of the ten sefirot was one of the first works of its kind.
Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, also known as the Baal Shem Tov (the Besh"t), was the founder of the Hasidic movement. Of humble and obscure origins, he was introduced to the secrets of kabbalah by Rabbi Adam Baal Shem of Ropczyce and other masters of practical kabbalah. In 1734 he presented himself to the world as a "Baal Shem," a "Master of the Name," the title used for holy men who could work miracles. His teachings made kabbalistic teachings accessible to the common Jew, and emphasized ways of drawing closer to the Divine outside of the traditional framework of Torah study. He was followed as a leader of the nascent Hasidic movement by Rabbi Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezeritch.
Bahya ben Asher ibn Halawa (Rabbeinu Behaye) was a Spanish rabbi, scholar and Biblical commentator. He was a pupil of Rashba, and modeled his exegetical style on that of Ramban. He was the first to build his Torah commentary on the four principles denoted by the letters PaRDeS, "Peshat, Remez, Drush, Sod," or 1) the plain text; 2) a deeper, more philosophical approach to the text; 3) a homiletical approach to the text; and 4) a mystical kabbalistic interpretation of the text. He also authored a work on ethics called "Kad HaKemach".
Bachya ibn Pekuda was a Spanish rabbi, philosopher and moralist who lived in Saragossa, where he was a dayyan. In addition to a comprehensive knowledge of Torah literature, he had a wide knowledge of secular literature, and frequently quoted non-Jewish moral philosophers. He wrote his great work, Chovot Halevavot, to fill what he perceived as a crying need for bringing together the many ethical teachings scatter throughout Jewish literature in a systematic work. He argued forcefully for investing in the inner content of Jewish practice, as opposed to singularly focusing on outward observance. His works displayed the rare combination of tremendous emotion, vivid poetic imagination, powerful eloquence and a penetrating intellect.
Barukh HaLevi Epstein was a Lithuanian scholar who is best known for his popular Torah commentary, Torah Temimah. The son of R. Yechiel Michel Epstein (author of Aruch HaShulchan), he was a prodigious learner and a student at the Volozhin Yeshiva, where he studied with his illustrious uncle, R. Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin. Though he received rabbinic ordination, he had no desire to work as a rabbi and instead became an accountant and a banker in Pinsk. When the dire financial situation of Pinsk during WWI made it impossible for him to concentrate on his Talmud studies, he wrote a four volume memoir entitled 'Mekor Barukh" which reflects on many of the greatest Jewish figures of the 19th century. Part of the memoir was translated into English and published under the title "My Uncle, the Netziv." Additional works are "Tosefot Beracha" - insights on the weekly Torah portion, and "Barukh SheAmar" - a commentary on the daily prayers.
19th century rabbi and preacher in Warsaw. Author of "Ephod Bad", a commentary on the Passover Haggada; "Avnet Bad" on ethics; and "Dovev Siftei Yesheinim" — a eulogy he delivered upon the passing of R' Dov Berish Meisels, chief rabbi of Warsaw.
Benno Jacob was a Reform German rabbi and Biblical commentator. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of Breslau. He served as rabbi in a number of communities until 1929, when he turned his attentions to completing his Biblical commentary. He was prominent in the fight against anti-Semitism, and he often wrote articles and spoke out publicly on the topic. He was an opponent of Zionism, which he saw as leading to secularization and loss of faith. His work has not been translated from German; Those familiar with his insightful and often unique takes on Biblical passages were in many cases introduced to his work by Nechama Leibowitz, who greatly admired his work and quoted his commentaries frequently.
Betzalel ben Avraham Ashkenazi was an Egyptian rabbi and Talmudist. He was a student of R. David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz), and R. Yitzchak Luria (Arizal) was his student. Toward the end of his life, he travelled to the Land of Israel and served as chief rabbi in Jerusalem, resolving a serious dispute between subcommunities.
A Hungarian rabbi and a colleague and friend of Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Hatam Sofer). He was chosen as the first rabbi of Budapest, but his rabbinate became contested, such that he took on a smaller rabbinate in Bonyhad instead.
Yitzchok Zev (Velvel) Halevi Soloveitchik (Gri"z), also known as the "Brisker Rav," was the last rabbi of the town of Brisk (Brest, Belarus) before the Holocaust. His father, R. Chaim Soloveitchik, was rosh yeshiva of the Volozhin yeshiva, while his maternal grandfather, R. Rafael Shapira was its long-time Rosh Yeshiva. He was an extraordinary learner, and was said to have memorized the entire Babylonian Talmud, along with Rashi, by age 16. After the closing of the Volozhin yeshiva, the family moved to Brisk, where his paternal grandfather, R. Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, was Rav. The position then passed to his father and later to himself. He Holocaust forced him to flee to Jerusalem, where he maintained a position of non-participation with the Israeli government, including opposition to receiving government funding for yeshivot. His children and followers founded several yeshivas in Jerusalem, all known as Brisk.
Chaim Chaykl (Chaika) Levin of Amdur (c. 1730 - 1787), also known as the Amdurer Rebbe, was an 18th-century chasidic rebbe and one of the earliest founders of Lithuanian chasidism. A leading disciple of Rabbi Dov Ber (the Maggid) of Mezeritch, in 1773 he founded the Amdur chasidic dynasty in Indura, Belarus where he faced fierce opposition from local mitnagdim. His Torah insights were published posthumously in 1891 in Warsaw under the title "Chaim VaChesed."
Chayyim Paltiel was a 13th century French Biblical commentator. Though nothing is known of his life, it is clear from the style of his work that he was thoroughly familiar with the Talmud and various midrashic traditions. He writes in the manner of other prominent Rishonim.
Early Chassidic leader and author, disciple of Yechiel of Zlotshov. Chaim served as Rabbi of Tchernovitz, Ukraine, for 23 years, in addition to other communities for shorter periods. He emigrated to Israel in 1813, and settled in Safed, where he is buried. He authored "Be'er Mayim Chaim", his magnum opus, which contains Chassidic insights on the Torah; "Shaar HaTefilah" on prayer; "Siduro Shel Shabbat" on the holiness of the Sabbath day, as well as some Halakhic essays; and "Eretz HaChaim" on Nach and Aggadah.
Chayyim Ibn Atar, better known as the Or Hachayyim after his most famous work, was a North African rabbi, Torah commentator, posek, and kabbalist. In 1733, he left his native Morocco for the Land of Israel. On the way, he passed through Italy, where the community of Livorno pressed him to stay. He founded a yeshiva and had a number of his works printed, which gained him renown in Europe as well has his native Morocco. He eventually moved on to the Land of Israel, where he made a great impression on his student, Chida. His eponymous Torah commentary, Or HaChayyim, is most original, blending Kabbalistic teachings with deeply insightful and original readings. He was held in especially high esteem by the early Chassidim.
Chaim of Volozhin, popularly known as Reb Chaim Volozhiner, was the foremost disciple of the Vilna Gaon and the founder of the Volozhin Yeshiva. The yeshiva taught the Gaon's study method of penetrating analysis of the Talmud, a unique style which was then copied by all of the great Lithuanian yeshivas. Reb Chaim himself was also considered one of the greatest Talmudic scholars of his age. His major work is Nefesh HaChaim, an explication of Jewish belief.
Chana Safrai (1946-2008) was a natural linguist who taught at the Hartman Institute, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, as well as a founder of the Kolech movement for Orthodox feminists. Along with her father, Professor Shmuel Safrai, and brother, Professor Ze’ev Safra, she helped compile Mishnat Eretz Yisrael, a socio-historical commentary to the Mishnah.
Italian scholar, Rabbi of Florence, Italy. Author of "Kinat Soferim" - commentary on Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot, and "Chok L'Yisrael" - on Shulchan Arukh Yoreh Deah. He also wrote responsa, but these were never published.
Chizkiah ben Manoach lived in the thirteenth century, probably in France. The details of his biography are unknown. He is the author of "Chizkuni", a popular commentary on the Torah, which is actually a compilation of insights culled from the Midrashim, as well as the writings of twenty Rishonim, including Rashi, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra. However, Chizkuni does not name any of his sources (other than Rashi), as he felt that one should focus on the message rather than the messenger.
David Altshuler was an 18th century Biblical commentator. Originally from the Iberian peninsula, his wanderings led him to Eastern Europe, where he served as rabbi of Jaworów, Poland. His notes and writings on Tanach were assembled by his son, Yehiel Hillel, and published under the name Metzudot.
Rabbi David ben Naphtali Frankel was a leading rabbinic figure in 18th-century Germany. Born in Berlin to the chief rabbi of the city, Rabbi Frankel served as rabbi of Dessau before returning to Berlin to serve as chief rabbi in 1742. He is known for his running explanatory commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, Korban HaEdah, which he composed at a time when serious study of the Jerusalem Talmud was not widespread even among Torah scholars. Rabbi Frankel also composed the Sheyarei Korban, a work of more detailed analytic commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud.
David Halevi Segal, known as the Taz after the name of his most famous work, was a Polish rabbi, halachic scholar and Talmudic commentator. His best-known work, Turei Zahav, is one of the basic commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (on all four sections, most prominently on Yoreh Deah and Orach Chayyim). He responded to Shach's critiques of his expositions and decisions in a separate work, and also authored Divrei David, a supercommentary on Rashi's Torah commentary. R. Yoel Sirkes (Bach) was his father-in-law.
Rabbi Dovid Oppenheim was a scholar in the 17th and 18th centuries who served as chief rabbi of Nikolsburg and later of Prague. He authored over 20 works, among them books of Torah and Talmud commentary, responsa, and theology. Oppenheim was known as an avid collector of Hebrew and Yiddish books and manuscripts, and his vast collection is housed at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.
Rabbi David Pardo was an 18th-century Italian rabbi and liturgical poet who lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia and in Jerusalem. Among other works, he authored a commentary on the Sifra on Leviticus and Maskil LeDavid, a super-commentary on Rashi on the Torah.
David Zvi Hoffman was a German rabbi, posek and Biblical commentator. In addition to his rabbinical training under R. Moshe Schick and R. Azriel Hildesheimer, he also studied philosophy, history and Oriental languages at various universities, completing his doctoral degree in 1871. He taught under R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch in Frankfort and succeeded R. Hildesheimer as head of the rabbinical seminary in Berlin. He was an expert in midrash halacha and the foremost halakhic authority in Germany in his generation. He was a man of great piety, one of the original members of Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah, and, at the same time, employed a critical approach in certain areas of Jewish study. He is well known for his strident literary opposition to the Graf-Wellhausen theories of Biblical origin, while on the other hand, he quotes prominent Wissenschaft figures in his researches on Mishnah and Talmud. Some see him as a prototype for the contemporary Orthodox scholar.
David ben Solomon ibn Zimra (Radbaz) was a Spanish born Rabbi whose adult life was spent in Fes, Israel and Cairo. He was appointed Hakham Bashi or Chief Rabbi of Egypt, a title he held for forty years. Cairene Jewry at the time encompassed an indigenous Jewish community and several communities of Jews from other localities, each with its own traditions. He used his authority to unify many of the disparate practices. Late he moved to Jerusalem where he was appointed judge of the community before finally settling in Safed where he died aged 93 or 94. He was independently wealthy and strongly objected to rabbis taking even a minimal salary. He therefore tried to use his position to affect a more equitable distribution of the tax burden whilst he was judge in Jerusalem. A prolific writer he wrote close to 3,000 responsa which a known both for their brevity and careful consideration of the impact on the lives of the people it affected. His two most noted students were Bezalel Ashkenazi and Isaac Luria. He also composed liturgical poetry of which his Keter Malkhut (The Royal Crown) has been incorporated into the Heidenheim edition of the prayer book for Yom Kippur.
Chief disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and his successor as leader of the Chassidic movement, known for his scholarship, piety, and asceticism. After the passing of the Baal Shem Tov, his son Tzvi briefly replaced his father, but relinquished it to Dov Ber after one year. The center of the movement then moved from Medzhibuzh to Mezeritch. He was the last universal leader of the movement, and upon his death it split into different factions, each ruled by a different one of his disciples, each of whom became pillars of the movement in their own right, and were the cause of the widespread influence of Chasidism throughout Eastern Europe. His primary disciples were: his son Avraham HaMalach (The Angel), Nachum of Chernobyl, Elimelech of Lizhensk, Zusha of Hanipol, Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Baruch of Medzhybuzh, Aharon of Karlin, Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg and Shneur Zalman of Liadi. He left no writings of his own, but his many teachings were recorded and published by his students. These works include: Maggid Devarav L'Yaakov, Likkutei Yekarim, Ohr Torah, Ohr Ha'Emet, Kitvei Kodesh, and Shemu'ah Tovah.
Born in Prague, Elazar was a student of Ezekiel Landau, the Noda B'Yehuda. He then served as Rabbi in Goitein, Moravia for four years, after which he returned to Prague and served as a judge in the rabbinical court of R' Landau. He was a fierce opponent of the Sabbateans and suffered greatly from their retaliations. He authored several works, among them his responsa entitled "Teshuva M'Ahava".
Elazar ben Moshe Azikri was a kabbalist, preacher and poet of the Land of Israel. He lived and taught in Tzfat during its zenith in the 16th century. He came from a family that had been expelled from Spain. He was one of a handful of rabbis to receive the renewed rabbinic semichah initiated by Rabbi Yaakov Berav. In 1588, he launched an effort called Sukkat Shalom, which sought to rouse many people to the penitence needed to hurry the redemption. His famous work Sefer Charedim was a part of that effort. The book blends a halachic enumeration of the mitzvot with Kabbalist ethics, and is one of the central works of it genre. His poem Yedid Nefesh, published in Sefer Charedim, is one of the most well known and beloved Hebrew poems. He also wrote talmudic commentaries.
Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymos, also known as Eleazar of Worms or Eleazar Rokeach, was a major Talmud scholar, mystic, and the last major member of the Hasidei Ashkenaz. He was a prolific author, providing most of the movement's extant pietistic and ethical literature. He also wrote Tosafot to many Talmudic tractates, which were referred to by Bezalel Ashkenazi in his Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet.
Israeli poet writer and life-long kibbutz member, he spent much of his days as a shepherd. He also spent many years studying Judaism and attempting to incoroporate it into his ultimately secular worldview, while distancing himself from traditional religion.
Elias Levita, also known as Eliyahu HaBachur, was a Hebrew grammarian, scholar, and poet. He was one of the foremost teachers of Christian clergy, nobility, and intellectuals in Hebrew and in Jewish mysticism during the Renaissance.
Rabbi Berkovits was one of the most important Jewish scholars and philosophers of the 20th century. He wrote broadly on subjects of Jewish thought, contemporary Halacha and communal interest. Collaborating with Sefaria, his family enthusiastically released much of his work into the commons, in order to make these seminal works available to all.
Born to the Beit El rosh yeshiva, Zalman Baruch Melamed, he followed his father's footsteps to study for several years with his father's teacher, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook. After teaching for many years in Beit El, he eventually established his own yeshiva in Har Berakha. A noted educator, his Peninei Halakha series on Jewish law are widely used throughout the Jewish world.
Eliezer Papo was a noted scholar who authored books on halacha, homiletics, and musar (ethics). He is best known for his ethical work "Pele Yoetz", a highly popular book that deals with a wide variety of day-to-day topics of Jewish living. He served as the rabbi of Silistra, Bulgaria, until his untimely death at age 41, during a plague in the city in 1828 . His grave in Silistra is a popular pilgrimage site.
Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg was a rabbi and dayan on the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem and the foremost authority on medicine and halacha. He was known as the Tzitz Eliezer, after his monumental halachic treatise by that name, covering everything from Jewish ritual to medical ethics. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest halachic works of the 20th century.
12th century Tosafist, renowned for his Halakhic and ethical work on the 613 commandments, "Sefer Yerei'im". His Tosafot to Talmud are mentioned by later authorities but are no longer extant. He was a prime student of Rabeinu Tam and teacher of Ra'avyah and R' Elazar, author of "Rokeach."
Elijah Benamozegh, was a 19th-century Italian Sephardic Orthodox rabbi and a renowned kabbalist, philosopher, and biblical commentator. He began working in commerce, spending his leisure time studying, but soon abandoned his commercial career to fully focus on his scholarship. Benamozegh served as rabbi of Livorno, Italy, for 50 years, and established a printing press there. He was known for his use of non-Jewish religious and academic sources in his writing, and some of his published works elicited fierce controversy.
One of the prime students of the Maggid of Mezeritch and founder of Chasidism in Poland. He was drawn to Chassidut by his brother, the famed Rebbe Zusha of Hanipol, who traveled with him to the Maggid. They both accepted upon themselves three years of exile, wandering from place to place while spreading the teachings of their master wherever they passed. After the Maggid's death, Elimelech settled in Lizhensk, which became a focal point of the movement's spread into Galicia and Poland. He did not write his own material, but his Sabbath lectures were recorded by his disciples and collected by his son Elazar and published a year after his death under the title "Noam Elimelekh". He also wrote "Tzetl Katan", a small handbook containing a seventeen-point program of spiritual improvement, as well as "Hanhagot HaAdam", a list of customs for all pious Jews to follow. His grave in Leżajsk, Poland, is a popular pilgrimage site visited by thousands, particularly on the anniversary of his death on the 21st of the Hebrew month of Adar
Rabinowitz-Teomim was born 1843. He studied Talmud and rabbinics under the tutelage of his father. In 1875 he went to serve the rabbinate of the town of Panevėžys (Poneviezh) and in 1893 was appointed as the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir until 1899. He immigrated to Jerusalem in 1901 was appointed as assistant to the aging Rabbi Shmuel Salant, who was the chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi Perushim community in Jerusalem. He died in 1905. Rabinowitz-Teomim was a prolific writer and penned over 120 books. His work includes original insights on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, as well as on the Talmud and Siddur (Prayer book).
Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Teomim, known by his acronym "Aderet", was a Lithuanian rabbi and Talmudist who served, toward the end of his life, as leader of the Ashkenazic community in Jerusalem. He wrote many works filled with original insights in all areas of Torah. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook was his son-in-law.
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler was an Orthodox rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and ethicist of the 20th century. His father was a close student of R' Simcha Zissel Ziv, known as the "Alter of Kelm", and his mother was a granddaughter of the founder of the Mussar movement, R' Yisroel Salanter. He was taught by private tutors and at the age of 14 became one of the youngest students in the yeshiva of Kelm, which was then led by Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Braude, the Alter's son-in-law. He received Semikha from his uncle Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski. Eventually he served as a rabbi in London’s East End and later in Dalston, Northeast London. In the early 1940s, Rabbi Dessler assumed leadership of the newly formed Gateshead Kollel. In the late 1940s, the leadership of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Berak convinced Rabbi Dessler to assume the role of Mashgiah Ruchani (spiritual counsellor and lecturer on ethical issues). He relocated to Israel and again gathered a small circle of students around him. Upon his death his students published six-volumes containing his lectures and writings, called Mikhtav me-Eliyahu ("Letter from Elijah"), later translated into English and published as "Strive for Truth".
Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmacher was a 19th-century talmudic scholar, kabbalist, and active supporter of the early Zionist movement. Born in Borek in the district of Posen, he entered the talmudic academy of Rabbi Akiva Eger at age 19 and became a disciple of Eger’s. He served as rabbi in Pleschen and later in Graetz (Grodzisk Wielkopolski), and composed commentaries on the Talmud and Shulchan Arukh, responsa, and works of kabbalistic thought.
Rabbi, kabbalist, and preacher in 17-18th century Izmir (Smyrna). He authored more than thirty works, many still unpublished, but is mainly renowned for his ethical work "Shevet Mussar," which has been reprinted in over 45 editions and translated into several languages.
A student of Rabbi Avraham Gombiner (author of Magen Avraham), he was a rabbi and rosh yeshiva in Prague. Though many of his writings got destroyed, he is most known for his important Eliyah Rabbah commentary on Shulchan Arukh.
Eliyahu Mizrachi was a Talmudic and Biblical commentator and posek who served as Chief Rabbi (Chakham Bashi) of Turkey. In addition to his mastery of Torah literature, he knew Greek and Arabic and was well-tutored in secular subject, particularly astronomy and mathematics. He is credited with devising a method of finding cube roots. He was born in Constantinople and studied under R' Eliyahu Zaken of Constantinople and R' Yehuda Mintz of Padua. In 1500, he succeeded Rabbi Moshe Capsali as Chief Rabbi of Turkey, and was appointed by the sultan to continue his predecessor's practice of adjudicating disputes between Jews. Although he cancelled the prohibition against teaching Talmud to Karaite students and was known for his great tolerance, he opposed intermarriage with Karaites. He also opposed what he considered foolish customs, and maintained that they were not binding. He worked tirelessly for communal welfare despite his own frail constitution, especially assisting the wave of Spanish Jews who came to the Ottoman Empire with the Spanish expulsion. His most famous work is his super commentary on Rashi's Torah commentary. Other works are "Tosafei S'MaG" on the S'MaG, "Teshuvot Re'em" responsa, and a work on mathematics entitled "Sefer HaMispar".
Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas (1518–1587) was a rabbi in Ottoman Palestine, disciple of the Ramak (Rabbis Moshe ben Yaakov Cordovero) and the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria), and one of a group of prominent kabbalists living in Hebron during the late 16th and early 17th-century. He wrote Reshit Chochmah ("The Beginning of Wisdom") a popular kabbalistic work on ideal character traits, largely based on the Zohar.
Rabbi Ephraim Navon was a rabbi and rabbinical court judge in the 17th and 18th centuries. Born in Constantinople, he emigrated to Jerusalem as an adult, later returning to Constantinople as an emissary raising money for Jerusalem’s Torah institutions. He remained in Constantinople for the rest of his life, and there he composed his widely-recognized commentary on the Mishneh Torah, Machaneh Ephraim.
18-19th century preeminent Torah scholar and author. Born in Brody, he served as rabbi of Uhniv for a short time, but after becoming wealthy in business he gave up the position and devoted his time to Torah study and correspondence. Among his works are: "Bet Efrayim" - commentary on Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah; Responsa Bet Efrayim, "Yad Efrayim" commentary on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim, "Sha'arei Efrayim" on the laws pertaining to the reading of the Torah in the synagogue; "Shem Efrayim" commentary on the Torah; "Tiv Gittin" on the proper spelling of names in divorce documents; and "Mateh Efrayim" on the laws to be observed from the beginning of the month of Elul until after Sukkot, as well as the regulations regarding the Kaddish of orphans.
Dr. Erica Brown is an award-winning educator and the author of twelve books on leadership, Bible, and spirituality. She is the director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership and an associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at The George Washington University. Dr. Brown is also a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow, and a community scholar for Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, NJ.
Everett Fox is a scholar and translator of the Hebrew Bible. He is currently the Allen M. Glick Professor of Judaic and Biblical Studies and director of the program in Jewish Studies at Clark University.
Rabbi Ezra ben Shlomo was one of the leading kabbalists of his day in Gerona, Spain. His works show the influence of his teacher Isaac the Blind, and he, in turn, greatly influenced his contemporaries and the kabbalists of the 13th and 14th centuries, who quoted his works frequently. He wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs as well as commentaries on talmudic legends and prayers.
Francis Nataf is a well known writer, scholar, editor and translator. He has held senior educational positions in many different contexts in Israel and the United States. He has written three books, published many articles, and serves as Associate Editor for the Jewish Bible Quarterly. When not writing, translating or teaching, he is a sought-after speaker, having organized lecture tours on four continents and counting.
Gershom ben Yehudah (Rabbenu Gershom), was a talmudist and halakhist. One of the first rabbis of Ashkenaz, he founded a yeshiva in Mainz, which became the first European yeshiva to rival the great academies of Babylonia. It produced the leading scholars European Jewry, including Yaakov ben Yakar, the teacher of Rashi. Around the year 1000, Rabbenu Gershom called assembly of rabbis to deal with complex, pressing issues of the day, during which he instituted various laws and bans. These include the prohibition against polygamy, the requirement of a wife to consent to divorce, the requirement to accept any Jew who had been forced to convert to Christianity and wishes to return, and the ban against opening and reading another person's mail. Asher ben Yechiel (Rosh) said about these laws that they became "such permanent fixtures that they are treated as if handed down on Mount Sinai." The title "Ma'or Hagolah" (Light of the Exile) was reverently appended to his name.
Son of the "Beit Yaakov" of Izhbitz and author of numerous works, he is known primarily for his efforts in identifying the Chilazon fish from which Techeilet is manufactured, and strongly encouraged the renewal of it's usage in the mitzvah of Tzitzit. He also compiled his father's and grandfather's teachings, and authored an introduction to their works.
Hai ben Sherira (Hai Gaon) was a theologian, scholar and the last of the Babylonian Geonim. He received his rabbinical training from his father, Sherira ben Hanina, who appointed him to be his successor as the Gaon (head) of the Yeshiva of Pumbedita. Prior to his appointment he also served with his father in the capacity of av bet din, jointly issuing rulings on halachic questions received from all corners of the Jewish world. He is credited with over 800 responsa, containing explanations of halachot and aggadata. He was familiar with the works of Plato and Aristotle as well as the Quran and the Hadit, but he strongly advised against the study of general philosophy.
One of Provence's most important scholars, he was a prolific writer, whose wrtings were largely only rediscovered in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, his famous liberal positions regarding Christians and Muslims had already been preserved and influential before then.
Hasdai ben Avraham Crescas (grandson of the Talmudist Hasdai ben Judah Crescas) was a Catalonian rabbi, posek, poet, philosopher and statesman. He was a member of the royal household of King John I and Queen Violante of Aragon before being appointed crown rabbi of Saragossa in 1389. With royal support he was able to save the Jewish communities of Aragon and Roussillon during the anti-Jewish riots of 1391, as well as send thousands of Conversos to Northern Africa and Eretz Yisrael. He was perhaps the first European philosopher to argue against Aristotelian philosophy. Though only recently translated into English, his arguments had a great impact on the development of Western philosophy due to their influence on Baruch Spinoza.
Hayyim Yosef David Azulai (Chida) was a Rabbinic scholar, prolific writer, publisher, pioneering biographer and bibliographer. A great-great grandson of R. Avraham Azulai (author of an important commentary on the Zohar), he was educated by some of the greatest rabbis of his generation, including Or HaChayyim Hakadosh (R. Chayyim ibn Attar) and R. Shalom Sharabi. He mastered Talmud, kabbalah and Jewish history at an early age. Though born and raised in Jerusalem, he spent much of his life as an emissary from the Land of Israel traveling throughout the Jewish communities of Europe and raising funds for the support of communities in the Land of Israel. His scholarship, knowledge of multiple languages, physical resilience and bravery made him an ideal candidate for the task of emissary, upon the success of whose mission the survival of the Jewish community of Chevron rested. Wherever he went, he visited famous libraries and examined books and manuscripts and later described in Shem Gedolim, his unique and indispensable biographical dictionary. He read widely, seemingly remembered everything, and wrote and published numerous works on almost every imaginable Torah topic.
Hayyim ben Yosef Vital was the foremost disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria of Tzfat, whose teachings he recorded and edited. They were later re-edited by his son, Rabbi Shmuel Vital, in the eight volume work Shemonah She’arim. He also authored many of his own works, including commentaries, responsa and practical kabbala.
Heinrich Guggenheimer was a renowned mathematician who specialized in topography, as well as a historian, grammarian, and linguist who read at least 30 languages. He was born in Germany, studied in Switzerland, and taught at universities in Israel and then throughout the United States.
Guggenheimer spent the last 20 years of his life composing a scholarly translation and commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (the Rebbi, Rebbi Heschel) was a Polish Talmud scholar and teacher. He served as rosh yeshiva in Cracow and Lublin. Not many details are known of his life, but he evidently wrote a number of works which, though lost, were renown by his contemporaries for their pointed insights and wide-ranging associations. Some of his teachings on the weekly Torah portions were gathered and printed posthumously.
A disciple of the Vilna Gaon, he is credited with having revitalized the Ashkenazi community in what is now Israel (then the Ottoman province of Palestine), by immigrating to Jerusalem in 1809 along with some other pupils of the Gaon. He is the author of the esoteric work "Kol HaTor", which presents an analysis of the process of future redemption which he received from the Vilna Gaon.
Avraham ben Meir ibn Ezra, better known simply as Ibn Ezra, was a medieval Spanish Torah commentator, poet, philosopher and grammarian. While he wrote on grammar, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics, he is most famous for his Biblical commentaries, which, alongside those of Rashi, are ubiquitous and indispensable. His commentaries focus on grammatical explanations and the "peshat" (plain-sense) meaning of the text. He often incorporates biting or humorous comments directed toward other commentators, especially towards the Karaites. He maintained a deep friendship with R. Yehudah Halevi, and quotes some of his interpretations in his commentaries. His poetry is still read and sung as part of the regular liturgy. Ibn Ezra knew great poverty and traveled widely, almost incessantly, teaching and making connections with fellow scholars, notably Rabbenu Tam in France.
A prolific Italian rabbi, kabbalist and merchant, he spent several years in Palestine studying from the great kabbalist rabbis there. Among his writings was the Mishnat Hasidim, a reformulation of Kabbalistic concepts according to the organization of the Mishnah.
Spanish scholar in the pre-Expulsion period, head of a Talmudic academy which produced many great scholars. Author of "Darchei HaGemara" on methodology of the Talmud and it's commentaries. Isaac was blessed with a long lifespan of 103 years.
Isaac Luria (also known as Ari HaKadosh or Arizal), was a rabbi and mystic who taught in Egypt and Safed in the sixteenth century. He is considered the forefather of modern Kabbala, also known as Lurianic Kabbala. Born in Jerusalem, but educated in Egypt under the auspices of the David bin Abi Zimra (Radbaz) and Bezalel Ashkenazi, Luria became one of the Radbaz's leading student. He lived a life of seclusion on an island in the Nile but was eventually forced to turn to commerce. It was during this period of seclusion that he developed his famous system of kabbalistic ideas. After moving to Safed, Luria taught his system to many followers, who copied down and interpreted his ideas. Shrouded in secrecy, many legends developed about his life, which were only furthered after his death at a young age. Luria’s students mostly memorized his teachings and put them in writing. Among the transmitters of Luria’s kabbalistic ideas were Eleazer Azikri, Israel Sarug, Elijah de Vidas, Abraham Galante, Moses Jonah, Menahem Azariah Fano, Joseph ibn Ṭabul and Joseph Solomon Delmedigo. None of them, however, was as instrumental in disseminating Luria’s teachings as his closest disciple, Ḥayyim Viṭal. The Lurianic version of Kabbala, far as it was from Luria’s original teaching, became the mainstream form of Kabbala. Its popularity in the Jewish world, even in circles that had never before practiced Kabbala, contributed to the upsurge of messianism that set the ground for the Sabbatean movement and Shabbetay Ṣevi.
Isaac Samuel Reggio, also known as the YaShaR, was a linguist, scholar and religious philosopher who applied the principles of enlightenment philosophy to the understanding of Torah. He sought to establish a rabbinical seminary in Italy and promoted the teaching of Hebrew to the masses. Partly to that end, he translated the Pentateuch into Italian and provided his own Hebrew commentary.
Yitzchak ben Yosef Caro was a Spanish rosh yeshiva, posek, preacher and physician. He was the uncle of R. Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, who consulted him on halachic matters. He studied under Rabbi Yitzchak Canpanton in Toledo, and subsequently moved to Lisbon and opened a yeshiva. He underwent the expulsions of Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497. He eventually made his way to Istanbul, but all but one of his sons died during the journey. It is reported that he set out for the Land of Israel, but it is not known whether he arrived.
Isaac ben Meir of Dueren was one of the leading Talmudic authorities of the second half of the 13th century. His work Sha'arei Dura was the authoritative codification of the dietary laws until the emergence of the Shulchan Aruch.
Yitzchak ben Moshe Arama was a Spanish rosh yeshiva, Talmudic commentator, preacher and philosophically-oriented exegete. He served as rosh yeshiva in Zamora and, subsequently, as chief rabbi of Tarragona. The poor inhabitants of that city could not support a beit midrash, but implored him to give public lessons and sermons. His sermonic style, fusing didactic philosophical as well as ethical teachings, served as a model for generations of darshanim, or preachers. These sermons formed the basis of his masterpiece, Akedat Yitzchak. Later, he served as chief rabbi in other cities. When Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, he moved with his son, Meir, to Portugal, and then from there to southern Italy. He greatly admired the Rambam, but felt that the philosophical commentators who succeed him took the Rambam's philosophical approach in directions he never intended. His teachings are brought so consistently, and often anonymously, by Abarbanel in his commentaries that Meir Arama accused him of plagiarizing his father's works.
One of the foremost Tosafists, frequently quoted throughout the pages of the Tosafot commentaries on the Talmud. On his father's side he was a grandson of R' Simchah ben Samuel of Vitry, author of the Machzor Vitry; on his mother's side he was a great-grandson of Rashi and a nephew of Rabbeinu Tam, Rashbam, and Rivam. He was surnamed "haZaḳen" (the elder) to distinguish him from his disciple, Isaac ben Abraham "haBachur" (the younger), also a Tosafist.
14th century Spanish Halakhic authority. Born in Barcelona (according to other accounts: Valencia), he was a prime disciple of Rabbeinu Nissim (Ran), and was imprisoned in Barcelona on false charges together with his teacher and several others. After they were acquitted, he left Barcelona and accepted a Rabbinic position in Saragossa. However the city was beset by strife, which prompted him to leave and settle in Valencia where he directed a Talmudic academy. The persecution of the Spanish Jews in 1391 forced him to flee to Algeria, where he was received with much honor.
Isaac de Leon, (born in Toledo - not to be confused with Isaac Leon ibn Tzur, author of Megilat Esther on Rambam), a Kabbalist and author of Maʿaseh Nissim, was a native of Leon, and the pupil of Isaac Campanton. He was part of the Kabbalistic circles that produce the work "Sefer Ha-Meshiv". An opponent of philosophy, he nonetheless studied Aristotelian logic as part of the formal approach to halakhah of the school of Isaac Campanton. Joseph Karo and others honored him with the title of "the great teacher." He was more than seventy years of age at his death, which occurred shortly before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
Yitzchak Sagi Nahor (Isaac the Blind) was a Provencal rabbi and kabbalist. He was the son of the Ra'avad, and was active at the time that Sefer HaBahir was first emerging in public; in some circles he was considered its author. His students, Rabbi Azriel and Rabbi Ezra, taught Kabbalah to Ramban. Rabbeinu Bachaye calls him "the father of Kabbalah".
Berlin, a German scholar and author, lived most of his life as a private individual, but accepted the Rabbinate in Breslau at a late age. He wrote numerous works, but is best known for his annotations to the Talmud which are printed in the standard Vilna Shas. He added the surname of his father-in-law, Pik, in appreciation of the financial support he received from him.
Yeshayahu Levi Horovitz was Polish rabbi and kabbalist. He was the most illustrious member of the distinguished Horovitz family, a family that descended from Rabbi Zerachiah HaLevi of Gerona, spans hundreds of years, and counts many distinguished rabbi and intellectuals amongst its members. He was born in Prague and studied under his highly learned father as well as the greatest rabbis of his day. After serving in various communities, he returned to the city of his birth as chief rabbi. In 1621 he moved to the Land of Israel, where he was appointed chief rabbi of the Ashkenazic community in Jerusalem. He moved to Tzfat and Teveriah shortly after being ransomed from captivity in 1625, where he further immersed himself in kabbalist study. His great work, Shnei Luchot HaBrit, published by his son, is almost unparalleled in its impact on Ashkenazic Jewish life, playing an enormous role in spreading and popularizing kabbalistic ideas. He had a huge impact upon the Chassidic movement, which sprang up soon after his passing, through his teachings and his descendants, some of whom were great Chassidic leaders.
Prominent Italian Tosafist and prolific author, (sometimes referred to as "Rid HaZaken" or "Rid HaRishon", to differentiate him from his grandson who was a famous scholar as well). He is most known for his Talmud commentary, Tosafot Rid, of which he composed as many as six editions to some tractates. He also wrote Piskei Rid, a Halakhic digest; Sefer HaMachria, Halakhic essays and correspondence; and a commentary to the Torah which was discovered and printed by Chida in his Pnei David. In his writings, Rid makes mention of other works that have never been published.
Chassidic leader in 18-19th century Poland, founder of the Kozhnitz dynasty. Born to his father Shabbetai at an advanced age, after having received a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov. Studied under R' Shmelke of Nikolsberg, and later under the Mezeritcher Maggid and R' Elimelech of Lizhensk. Known as the "Kozhnitzer Maggid (preacher)" for the sermons he frequently delivered in Kozhnitz. He authored many works, including: Avodat Yisrael and Yakar MiPaz on Torah, Chidushei Maggid Mishna on Mishnayot, Beit Yisrael on Talmud, Nezer Yisrael on Zohar, She'erit Yisrael on Midrash, Geulat Yisrael on Maharal's works, and others.
Israel Isserlin (Maharai) was the foremost Talmudic authority of his time and the last great rabbi of medieval Austria. His Great-Grandfather was Israel of Krems, author of Haggahot Asheri. Isserlin was most famous for his books of responsa, Terumat Hadeshen and Pesaḳim u-Ketabim.
Author of the classic commentary "Tiferet Yisrael" on the Mishna. He served as Rabbi, first at Dessau and then at Danzig, and led the life of an ascetic, frequently fasting three days in succession. He also wrote "Shevilei de'Rakiya", an introduction to the principles of Rabbinical astronomy, and "Drush Ohr HaChayim", a treatise discussing the eternity of the soul and the age of the universe, in addition to other lengthy essays, many of which are appended to his Mishnah commentary. His ethical will contains twenty-eight paragraphs, consisting primarily of moral and ascetic precepts.
Israel Meir (HaKohen) Kagan, also known as the Chofetz Chaim, was one of the foremost leaders of Ashkenazic Jewry. He was a posek, rosh yeshiva and writer on Jewish ethics whose seminal works, Chafetz Chaim and Shmirat HaLashon, have come to define the rules of proper speech. He also composed the widely popular "Mishnah Berurah", a 6-volume commentary on the Orach Chaim section of the Shulchan Aruch, in addition to many smaller works on Jewish law and ethics. He was briefly the rabbi of Radun (Poland/Belarus), but resigned in order to found the Radun Yeshiva, which became world-famous under his leadership. He traveled widely to encourage widespread observance of mitzvot, and was active in Agudat Yisrael.
Famed Rosh Yeshiva and founder of the Mussar movement in 19th century Lithuania, which promoted ethical and spiritual introspection among Eastern European Jews, and became an integral part of the curriculum of the Lithuanian yeshivot. His family name was Lipkin, but he is known as Israel Salanter after the town of Salant where he grew up and studied. At an early age he came under the influence of R' Zundel of Salant, a known Mussar figure. He headed Yeshivot in Vilna and other Lithuanian cities. After his death, his student R' Isaac Blazer (known as R' Itzele Peterburger) published his teachings and succeeded him as head of the Mussar movement.
Galician scholar and philosopher. He authored several works, most notably "Tov HaLevanon" — a commentary on Chovot HaLevavot, and "Otzar Nechmad" on the Kuzari. From his Talmudic work "Netzach Yisrael" it is evident that he was proficient in many areas of worldly knowledge.
A student of Rabbi Moses Isserles (Remah), he is the author of the important commentary on Midrash Rabbah, Matanat Kehunah. There is a tradition that he spent his last few years in Palestine, studying with Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and finally dying in Hebron.
He studied with many of the great Eastern European rabbis of his time, including Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik and the Chofetz Chaim, and became the rabbi and rosh yeshiva of Slutsk. Always a supporter of the return to Zion, he eventually moved to Jerusalem, where he became one of its most important rabbis and the rosh yeshiva of the Etz Chaim yeshiva. He left his mark both through his many students and his important writings which include Evan HaEzel on Shulchan Arukh.
One of the early Chassidic masters in Poland, known as the "Chozeh" ("The Seer"), owing to his supernatural ability of perception. He was a student of the Maggid of Mezeritch and later of R' Shmelke of Nikolsburg and R' Elimelech of Lizhensk. He lived for a while in Lantzut before moving to Lublin, where he attracted thousands of followers, among them many well-known Chasidic luminaries. While in Lublin, he faced opposition from a prominent Mitnagdic rabbi, Ezriel Horowitz, known as the 'Eizener Kop'. His three works, all published posthumously, are: "Zikaron Zot", "Zot Zikaron'", and "Divrei Emet".
Senior disciple of the founder of Chassidut, the Baal Shem Tov, Jacob Joseph was one of the chief disseminators of his master's teachings through his published works. Born into a prominent rabbinical family, he was serving as rabbi in Sharograd, Western Ukraine, and was initially opposed to the fledgling Chasidic movement, but changed course after an inspirational meeting with the Baal Shem Tov. His embrace of Chasidism caused him to forfeit his position in Sharograd, whereupon he took up rabbinic posts in Rashkov (1748-1752), and then Nemirov (1752-1770), before finally settling in Polonne (1770-1782). His works, the titles of which all contain allusions to the author's name, are: "Toldot Yaakov Yosef", which was the first book of Chassidic teachings ever published; "Ben Porat Yosef"; "Tzofnat Paneach"; and "Ketonet Pasim". The Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezeritch are frequently mentioned throughout Jacob Joseph's books, which are considered to be a prime source of their teachings.
Austrian rabbi and author. Born in Prague, he was appointed as a dayan in that city before accepting a rabbinic position in Rzeszów in Galicia, deriving his surname Reischer from that city, which is known as 'Reische' among the Jews. His works include: Minchat Ya'akov, commentary on the Torat ha-Chatat of Moses Isserles; Torat ha-Shelamim, commentary on Yoreh De'ah, Hilchot Niddah; Chok Yaakov, commentary on Orach Chayyim, Hilchot Pesach; Solet le'Minchah, supplements to the Minchat Ya'akov and the Torat ha-Shelamim; Iyyun Ya'aḳov commentary on the Ein Ya'aḳov; and Responsa Shevut Yaakov.
Jacob ben Asher was born in Germany but lived most of his life in Spain. He is most famous for having composed the great law code, Arba'ah Turim, upon which R. Yosef Karo based his Shulchan Aruch. He also composed a Torah commentary which remained in manuscript for centuries, a small extract of which, known as Ba'al HaTurim al HaTorah, was based primarily on gematria-based associations. These were lead-ins to the main body of his work, eventually published in full, which draws on the works of other commentators, particularly that of Ramban.
Yedidiah Solomon ben Abraham Nortsi was an Italian rabbi, Biblical scholar and grammarian. He served as rabbi of Mantua for some thirty years. In order to collect the works and manuscripts necessary for his magisterial work Minchat Shai, he made many trips abroad from Italy, sparing no effort to gather all the variant readings of Biblical texts, no matter how seemingly minor.
Italian rabbi and scholar in the early 16th century. He was also an author, publisher, and writer of responsa. Widely known is his commentary on the festival prayer book according to the Roman rite, published anonymously under the title 'Kimcha D'Avishuna' (Bologna, 1540). He was extremely active as a proofreader of midrashic works and in the establishment of accurate readings of the tractates he studied with his pupils. His glosses to the Halakhot of R' Isaac Alfasi (Rif), his approbations to the works of his contemporaries, and his responsa, are extant today. He also compiled a commentary on the laws of kosher slaughter and the halakhot of issur v'heter of the Mordekhai by Mordekhai b. Hillel (Venice, 1550). His piyutim and poems are also known. Of his three sons the best known is Raphael Joseph who was a posek, as well as a book publisher.
Yonatan Eybeschutz was a German rabbi, Talmudist, posek, kabbalist and homilist, writing prolifically in all of these fields. He was a child prodigy and his personality created a great impression upon people from early on. He spent many years as a rosh yeshiva and dayyan in Prague, but he was never appointed as chief rabbi of a city due to suspicions that he was secretly a Sabbatean. While he stridently denied the allegations, the suspicions continued, espoused especially by Rabbi Yaakov Emden, who deciphered cryptic names in amulets prepared by Rabbi Yonatan as being Sabbatean in nature, and believed to have found connections between his writings and those of an acquaintance. A contemporary rabbinical tribunal exonerated him of the allegations, and his works are widely studied to this day. In 1750, he was elected rabbi of the "Three Communities:" Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek. He was a preacher of great force and eloquence, and his collected homilies are amongst the most widely read today.
14-15th century Spanish rabbi and philosopher, disciple of R' Hasdai Crescas and author of "Sefer HaIkkarim" on Jewish philosophy and faith. Albo was one of the participants in the religious disputation in Tortosa, where he successfully defended the Talmud against the attacks of the apostate Joshua HaLurki. He was also proficient in medicine and other sciences.
Joseph Ber Soloveitchik was a major 20th Century American Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist, and modern Jewish philosopher. He was a scion of the Lithuanian Jewish Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty. As a Rosh Yeshiva of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in New York City, The Rav, as he came to be known, ordained close to 2,000 rabbis over the course of almost half a century. He served as an advisor, guide, mentor, and role-model for tens of thousands of Jews, both as a Talmudic scholar and as a religious leader. He is regarded as a seminal figure by Modern Orthodox Judaism. During his tenure at Yeshiva University, in addition to his Talmudic lectures, Soloveitchik deepened the system of "synthesis" whereby the best of religious Torah scholarship would be combined with the best secular scholarship in Western civilization. In his major non-Talmudic publications, which altered the landscape of Jewish philosophy and Jewish theology, Soloveitchik stresses the normative and intellectual centrality of the halakhic corpus. In The Lonely Man of Faith, Halakhic Man, and Halakhic Mind is a four-part analysis of the historical correlation between science and philosophy. Only in its fourth and last part does the author introduce the consequences on the Halakha of the analysis performed in the previous three parts.
Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, also known as the Beis HaLevi, was a rabbi and scholar and the first of the Soloveitchik dynasty. His mother, Rivke, was the granddaughter of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. R. Yosef Dov quickly became known for his great genius and kindness of heart. In 1854, he was invited to be co-Rosh Yeshiva of the Volozhin Yeshiva together with R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin. In 1865, he became Rabbi of Slutsk, where, upon discovering the impoverishment of the heder children, he instituted community sponsored lunches. Two of his pupils in Slutsk were R. Yosef Rosen – later known as the Rogatchover Gaon – and R. Zalman Sender Shapiro. In 1875, struggles with the Maskilim ultimately forced him to leave Slutsk. In 1878 he was offered the rabbinate of Brisk, a position he held until his death in 1892. Over his lifetime he produced numerous published works, including Talmud commentaries, halachic insights, responsa and sermons, which were all printed under the title "Beit HaLevi."
Joseph ibn Megas (Hebrew: יוסף בן מאיר הלוי אבן מיגאש) was a Rabbi, Posek, and Rosh Yeshiva in Lucena, also known as Ri Migash. He studied under the renowned Talmudist Isaac Alfasi (Rif) before being appointed Rosh yeshivah (President of the Academy) after the latter’s death. His most famous pupil was Maimon, the father of Rambam. Although Rambam in his writings seems to indicate that he was himself a pupil, this is unlikely being that he was all of six when Ibn Migash died, rather his intention must have been that he absorbed Ibn Migash's teachings from his father. Ibn Megash authored over 200 responsa in Judeo-Arabic (later translated into Hebrew), and a Talmudic commentary of which only the novellae on tractates Bava Batra and Shevuot are currently extant.
16th century Bible commentator, a member of the famous Ibn Yachia family which produced many great Torah scholars. He composed a commentary on the Five Megilot, and a book on Gan Eden and the afterlife called "Torah Ohr." Two other books, "Derech Ha-Chaim" and "Ner Mitzva" were lost during the burning of the Talmud in Padua in 1414. His son Gedaliah is the author of "Shalsheles HaKabbalah".
Yosef Karo, expelled from Spain as a child, was a rabbi, Talmudist, mystic and the pre-emiment halachic codifier. His best-known work, the Shulchan Aruch, was accepted in his lifetime and formally recognized thereafter as the definitive statement of Jewish legal and religious practice. He also wrote basic commentaries on the Mishneh Torah and the Arba'ah Turim (the latter forming the basis from which the Shulchan Aruch was distilled). He was also a mystic who received heavenly revelations. Some of these were set down in writing and formed the impetus to come to the Land of Israel. There, he lived in Tsfat, where he took a central role in the attempt by his teacher, Rabbi Yaakov Berav, to revive traditional rabbinic Semichah.
12th century Bible commentator and grammarian. He was born in Spain, but religious persecution by the Mujahideen forced him to flee with his family to Provence, where he settled in Narbonne. He wrote a commentary on the Torah and several books on Hebrew grammar. He also translated important works from Arabic to Hebrew, notably: "Chovot haLevavot" by R' Bachya ibn Pakuda, and "Mivchar HaPeninim" by R' Shlomo Ibn Gabirol. His sons, R' Moshe and R' David (Radak), were also famous Biblical commentators.
One of the greatest and most original Jewish minds of the last few generations, he was connected to Chabad Chassidut throughout his life. Nevertheless, he also studied under Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik in Slutzk. Hence he was universally accepted and answered a large quantity of responsa well beyond his responsibilities as the rabbi of the chassidic community of Dvinsk. His most famous work was his Tzafnat Paneach commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah.
Yosef ben Meir Teomim was a Polish/German posek and Talmud scholar. In 1744 he left Lemberg (Lvov) for Komarno, where he married and served as the town melamed, devoting many hours to learning and composing his various works. In 1767, he moved to Berlin in order to devote himself undisturbed to his studies and his writing, and it was there that he published some of his works. Upon the death of his father, the townspeople of Lemberg implored him to take the former's place. After several years, he finally agreed, and in 1774 he returned to serve as dayan, darshan (preacher) and rabbi of Lemberg. In 1781 he was appointed rabbi and av beit din in Frankfurt. Though he published several works on different Torah subjects, his fame derives from Pri Megadim, a comprehensive super-commentary on Shulchan Aruch and its early commentaries.
First-century scholar and historian. He initially fought against the Romans during the first Jewish-Roman war, but ultimately defected to the Roman side, becoming an advisor to the Roman emperor's son. Josephus's works are an important source of information on Jewish history during the first century and the wars that took place in that period.
Joshua ben Alexander HaCohen Falk was a posek and Talmud scholar. He learned with his relative Moses Isserles and with Solomon Luria, and later became the head of the Yeshiva of Lemberg. He is best known for his works Beit Yisrael, a commentary on Arba'ah Turim, and Sefer Me'irat Einayim (SM"A) on Shulchan Aruch.
Joshua Kulp is the Rosh Yeshiva at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Josh was born in New York City, grew up in Margate, New Jersey and attended college at the University of Michigan. In 1994 he moved to Israel and in 1995 he founded the Conservative Yeshiva where he has been teaching ever since. He is the author of two books, The Schechter Haggadah and Reconstructing the Talmud. He is the author of the Mishnah Yomit English commentary on the entire Mishnah and the Daf Shevui commentary on the Talmud, which so far covers Sukkah, Megillah and the beginning of Ketubot. Josh lives with his wife and children in Modiin.
American scholar and writer. Author of "Otzar Midrashim" — an encyclopedic compilation of Midrashim; "Otzar Yisrael" — A Jewish encyclopedia; and "Otzar Dinim uMinhagim" — a compilation of Jewish laws and customs.
Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg, also known as Judah HeHasid, was a leader of the Chassidei Ashkenaz movement of mysticism and asceticism that flourished in the Rhineland in the 12th-13th centuries. He was born in Speyer to a family of kabbalists from Northern Italy. He founded a yeshiva in Regensburg which attracted many pupils, including Eleazar of Worms and Baruch ben Samuel of Mainz. Many liturgical works are tentatively attributed to Judah HeHasid, but he is most famous for his Sefer Hasidim, the foundational work of Chassidei Ashkenaz.
A rabbi, scholar and merchant who became chief rabbi of the Ottoman Empire. Among his most important works are Mishneh LeMelekh, a commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah, and the classic homelitic book, Parshat Derakhim. He was also known for his strong opposition to the Sabbateanism of his time.
Dr. Judith Hauptman is a Talmud scholar and professor at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Her work and research focuses on the history of the Talmud and how it came into being, as well as women’s roles in Judaic thought, bringing evaluation of the rabbinic period into conversation with contemporary issues. Hauptman is also the founder of Ohel Ayala, an outreach project for young Jews on the margins, named in memory of her mother.
מגדולי החסידות בפולין במאה ה-18/19. באחד מביקוריו של ר' אלימלך מליז'נסק בקרקוב, פגש אותו ר' קלונימוס קלמן והושפע ממנו מאוד. במשך הזמן התקרב לחסידות ונעשה לתלמידם של ר' אלימלך ושל תלמידו, החוזה מלובלין. ספרו של ר' קלונימוס קלמן, "מאור ושמש", הערוך במתכונת של פירושים לפרשיות השבוע, כולל ציטוטי מאמרים מאדמו"רים רבים, נעשה כעין ספר מייצג של החסידות הפולנית בליז'נסק ובלובלין. הספר יצא לאור בשנת 1842, ונעשה מקובל וחשוב עד כדי כך שהכניסוהו למקראות גדולות לצד הפרשנים הקלאסיים של ימי הביניים.
Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, also known as the Piaseczner Rebbe. He was born in Grodzhisk, Poland to his father, Rabbi Elimelech of Grodzhisk and named after his maternal great-grandfather, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, renowned Chassidic leader and author of Maor VaShemesh. He was orphaned at age three by the death of his father, and in 1905 he married Rachel Chaya Miriam, daughter of his nephew, Rabbi Yerachmiel Moshe of Kozhnitz. They had a son and a daughter, both of whom perished in the Holocaust. In 1909 he was appointed rabbi of Piaseczno, near Warsaw, and he established the yeshiva Da'at Moshe in 1923, which became one of the largest Chassidic yeshivot in Warsaw between the wars. He was deeply focused on the education of children and young men, and authored several important educational works: Chovat HaTalmidim (The Students' Obligation) - a collection of essays providing spiritual guidance for youth, Hachsharat HaAvreichim (Preparation of Young Men) - for young married men, and Mevo haShearim - intended to be the introduction to Chovat HaAvreichim, the last published book in the series of education, but only Mevo HaShearim survived from this manuscript. Also published are Tzav V'Ziruz - Rabbi Shapira's personal diary, Bnei Machshava Tova - a guide to attaining spirituality despite adversity and physical needs, which is based on manuscripts recovered from the rubble in the Warsaw ghetto, Derech HaMelech (The Way of the King) - Torah discourses given on the Sabbath and festivals in the years 1889–1943, and Esh Kodesh (Holy Fire) - his inspirational speeches given during the Holocaust period. After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was crushed in 1943, Rabbi Shapira was taken to the Trawniki work camp near Lublin, where he was among the victims of the mass shooting carried out on November 3, 1943.
Founded in 1987, Kolel Eretz Hemdah was established in order to train Rabbis and religious leaders for the national-religious community in Israel and abroad. The Kolel responds to Halakhic inquiries received from rabbis in Jewish communities around the world. These fascinating responsa, many of which deal with our developing modern world, have been collected in a series of books entitled "B'Mareh HaBazak".
Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was also known as "The Berditchever Rabbi" after the community he served for 25 years . A child prodigy from a prominent rabbinic family, he was drawn to Chasidism by R' Shmelka of Nikolsburg, who introduced him to the Maggid of Mezritch, under whom he studied for many years. His love of the Jewish people and his charitable interpretations of their actions before God are legendary, as was his fervor in prayer and enthusiastic dedication to mitzvot. He is the author of "Kedushat Levi", a collection of chasidic insights into the weekly Torah portion.
Louis Ginzberg was a Talmudist and leading figure in the Conservative Movement. He was born in Kaunus, Vilna, to a religious family that traced its lineage to the Gaon of Vilna. He came to America in 1899 and began teaching Talmud in 1902 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he remained until his death. He is best known for his commentary on the Talmud Yerushalmi and for his 6-volume collection of aggadic literature, The Legends of the Jews.
Orphaned as an infant, he nevertheless followed in his father's footsteps, penning a shorter version of his father's Ohr Zarua. He also wrote many of his own responsa, sermons and halachic essays, while serving as a rabbinic leader in Germany and Austria for most of his life.
Yehuda Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, was a Bohemian rabbi, Talmudist, mystically inclined philosopher and community leader whose writings left an indelible impression on both his own generation as well as subsequent generations of Ashkenazic Jewry. His numerous philosophical works became cornerstones of Jewish thought and had a profound influence on Chassidic teaching and some of the most prominent thinkers of modern Orthodoxy, including Rav Kook. He also wrote halachic works, including a commentary on the Arba'ah Turim. He had a close relationship with the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. Amongst his students were R. Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (Tosafot Yom Tov) and the historian R David Ganz (Tzemach David). He is famously associated with the creation of the Golem of Prague in popular literature from centuries later.
Late 16th century Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in several cities in Poland: Lemberg, Crakow and Lublin. Author of "Meir Einei Chachamim" - a commentary on many tractates of the Talmud, which was later printed in the Vilna Shas, under the heading "Maharam", together with Maharsha and Maharshal. His responsa "Manhir Einei Chachamim" was published posthumously by his sons.
Born in Germany, he spent his youth in Prague, before moving further south to study Torah in Padua. He then became rabbi of that community as well as the titular head of the community in Venice. He was involved in responsa, some of which were a part of his correspondence with Rabbi Moshe Isserles, one of his relatives, as well as in ill-fated publication of Rambam's Mishneh Torah that was copied by a rival printing house and caused great problems for the community.
Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg (Maharam) was a German talmudist and liturgist, and one of the important Ba'alei HaTosafot. He also authored many responsa. His practices were carefully noted by his many disciples and had an unparalleled formative impact on subsequent Ashkenazic practice. Toward the end of his life, he was captured and held by German Christian authorities. His disciples raised the huge ransom demanded, but he refused to allow its payment, aware of the precedent it could set. He died in prison and was ransomed years later for Jewish burial. His most prominent disciple, Asher ben Yechiel (the Rosh), fled to Spain in the wake of what befell his teacher.
Shmuel Eidels (Maharsha) was a Polish rabbi and Talmudist whose chiddushim (Talmudic novellae) on both halachic and aggadic passages are found in almost every edition of the Talmud. He was a child prodigy and initially rejected many marriage offers to devote himself entirely to Torah study. After marrying, he moved to Posen and established a yeshiva which was supported for twenty years by his mother-in-law, Eidel. He adopted her name as his surname in gratitude for her unstinting support. He was an active participant in the Council of Four Lands.
Shlomo Luria (Maharshal) was a Polish rabbi, posek and Talmudic commentator. His prominent family claimed descent from Rashi. He served as rosh yeshiva of the famed yeshiva in Lublin, Poland. He maintained a spirited correspondence with the Rama, to whom he was related. They disagreed pointedly on the importance of philosophy and grammar. He is known for his independence in Torah matters and his strident criticism of the approach of his contemporary scholars to Talmudic commentary. His great halachic work, Yam shel Shlomo, was overshadowed by the contemporary Shulchan Aruch, of whose halachic methodology he was highly critical.
Makhon Orot HaYerushalmi is a Jerusalem-based institution dedicated to reviving the study of “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” or Torah that is unique to the Land of Israel. The institution focuses on researching the Jerusalem Talmud and promoting its study.
Meïr Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Weisser (Malbim) was a rabbi, Hebrew grammarian, halachic scholar, and author of one of the most insightful and comprehensive Torah commentaries since medieval times. Known as the "ilui (prodigy) of Volhynia," he served in seven different rabbinic posts over the course of his lifetime. His staunch adherence to halacha and defense of tradition put him in direct confrontation with "enlightened" intellectuals who wished to introduce Reformist innovations in worship and other communal institutions. While serving as chief rabbi of Bucharest, he was falsely charged by his opponents and he only escaped imprisonment on the condition that he leave Romania. Persecution by reformers followed him to other rabbinic posts, including Lunchitz, where he was additionally attacked by a Chassidic faction that accused him of introducing enlightenment thought in his Torah commentary. On his way to accept a post in Krementchug, he fell sick in Kiev and died on the first day of Rosh HaShanah.
Markus Horovitz was a Hungarian rabbi and historian. The descendant of a family of scholars, he pursued his rabbinical studies at the yeshivot of Ujhely, Verbé, and Eisenstadt (the last-named then under the auspices of Israel Hildesheimer). He studied (1868–71) philosophy and Orientalia at the universities of Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin, taking his PhD. degree at Tübingen. In December 1871, he was called as rabbi to Lauenburg in Pomerania; in 1874, to Gnesen, Prussian Posen; and in September 1878, to Frankfurt am Main. At Frankfurt he organized two model religious schools. Horovitz was a director of the Deutsche Rabbinerverband and president of the German Jewish orphanage in Jerusalem. Horovitz was rabbi in Frankfurt at a time when the disagreements between the Orthodox and Reform factions were reaching their peak. Horovitz was appointed to chair a committee on ritual to placate the Orthodox followers of Samson Raphael Hirsch, who were threatening to found a separate community, the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft ("Religious Society of Israelites"). He was given authority over the entire community's religious institutions, and promoted the construction of a new Orthodox synagogue on the Börneplatz, which was dedicated on September 10, 1882. Horovitz promoted the coexistence between the different factions, maintaining that it was possible for a unified community to exist while both sides exercised autonomy over their own institutions.
Marcus Jastrow was a Talmudic scholar and author of the widely used Talmudic dictionary which bears his name in popular parlance. He was rabbi of the Orthodox congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia from 1866 to 1892. Under his leadership, the congregation acquired an organ and was initially allowed to join the Reform movement. However, after the Reform Movement rallied around its radical "Pittsburgh Platform," he withdrew his congregation from the movement.
Martin Buber was a Jewish scholar and philosopher best known for his existentialist work I and Thou (Ich und Du). He was born in an Orthodox home in Vienna and raised in Lvov, but later returned to Vienna to study modern philosophy. He was a scholar, translator and explicator of Hasidic lore, which he compiled in Tales of the Hasidim. He was an ardent Zionist, settling in Jerusalem in 1938, where he became a professor at the Hebrew University.
18th century Sephardi Chacham and spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Tripoli, Libya. He is the author of Ma'aseh Rokeach, a commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah. He studied under the great Turkish rabbis of Izmir, R' Chaim Abulafia and R' Yitzchak HaKohen Rappaport, after which he emigrated to Jerusalem together with the latter. He was subsequently sent as an emissary to North Africa in order to raise funds for the Jerusalem community. The Libyan Jewish community at that time was at a spiritual low point and they requested that he remain there and become their leader. He accepted and was appointed chief rabbi of Tripoli, a position he held for 20 years until his death in 1768. In addition to his work on Rambam, he wrote novellae on the Talmud and Five Megilot, as well as drashot (sermons), but these have never been published.
Meir ben Todros HaLevi Abulafia, also known as the Ramah (Hebrew: הרמ"ה), was a major Sephardi Talmudist and Halakhic authority in mediaeval Spain. He was appointed to the Toledo Beth Din and head of an important yeshiva in Toledo. He was so highly esteemed that on his father's death in 1225 the latter's honorary title of Nasi (prince) was applied to him. A fierce opponent of philosophy, he first entered the controversy over the Guide for the Perplexed of Maimonides. However, over the years his opposition waned, and when the subject was reopened some thirty years later he refrained from getting involved. He was a prolific author and wrote a number of Talmud novellae, but only commentary on a few tractates are extant, entitled "Yad Ramah". He also wrote halakhic responsa, a commentary on the mystical book Sefer Yezirah and a book on the laws of writing a Torah scroll.
A child prodigy from a Chasidiic family in Poland, he was sent away to study Torah at an early age. Growing older, he drew close to the Sefat Emet of Ger and particularly to Rabbi Avrohom Bornsztain, the first Sochatchover Rebbe.He held the rabbinate of several communities while devoting much time to Jewish communal affairs more generally.
Meir ben Isaac Eisenstadt was an authority on halakha who was consulted by rabbis from Turkey, Germany and Italy. He served as dayan in Posen and rabbi in Szydłowiec, Poland before moving to Worms where he headed the yeshiva. When Worms was captured by the French in 1701 he moved to Prostějov (German: Prossnitz) as rabbi. He briefly returned to Szydłowiec before settling in Eisenstadt as rabbi of the Seven Communities. Eisenstadt greatly influenced the nature of the community and his yeshiva attracted students from far and near. His best known student is probably Jonathan Eybeschütz. His major works are; "Or ha-Ganuz", novellae on marriage law (Ketubot) and notes on Yoreh De'ah; "Panim Me'irot", responsa and novellae on various Talmudic treatises; "Kotnot Or", homiletic commentary on the Pentateuch and the Five Scrolls, (published, with the "Or Hadash" of his grandson, Eliezer Kalir, under the title "Meore Esh" the latter word being an abbreviation of "Eisenstadt").
Rabbi Meir HaLevi Rotenberg was nominated in 1809 to serve as a rabbi in Apt (Opatów) and, in 1815, in Stavnits (Stopnica). He was drawn to chasidism under his brother’s influence and considered Rabbi Yaakov Yitzcḥak Horowitz (the Seer of Lublin) his unequivocal mentor. Upon Horowitz’s death in 1815, he took on the role of a tsadik, and according to one tradition was officially appointed the Seer’s successor.
A rabbi in Prussia, he became most famous for his Beit Meir gloss on the Shulchan Arukh. He held rabbinic positions in several larger Eastern European communities including Konigsburg, and his expertise in halacha was so renowned that he answered colleagues' questions from all over the region.
Meir Simchah HaKohen of Dvinsk (Or Sameach) was a Lithuanian rabbi and scholar. He was supported in his Torah education by his merchant father and later by his wife until, at the age of 40, he accepted a position as rabbi of Dvinsk. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of philosophical and kabbalistic literature, and his commentaries on Rambam's Mishneh Torah and on Chumash are noted for their originality and depth. His knowledge of the Jerusalem Talmud was so thorough that he was able to immediately determine that two supposedly "newly discovered" tractates were forgeries. He was very beloved by his congregation, and though he received offers of rabbinic posts in Jerusalem, New York, Kovno and other cities, he retained his position in Dvinsk for almost 40 years.
A rabbi of several important Eastern European communities, including Brisk. He was a prolific writer, focusing most of his energies on the Jerusalem Talmud and the Order of Kedoshim in the Babylonian Talmud
16th century Kabbalist, born in Spain but forced to flee as a young boy during the Spanish Expulsion, eventually settling in Egypt. He wrote three important works on Kabbalah: "Tolaat Yaakov" - Kabbalistic explanations of the prayers and blessings (authored at age twenty-six); his most popular work, "Avodat HaKodesh" - an introduction to the study of Kabbalah; and "Derech Emunah" on the Ten Sefirot.
Meir ben Jacob HaKohen Schiff was a German rabbi and Talmudist. His father was Jacob Schiff. At the age of seventeen he was appointed Rabbi in Fulda where he composed his commentaries on the entire Talmud. He was a severe critic of pilpul and attacked many of his contemporaries including Solomon Lura, Meir of Lublin, Samuel Edels as well as early authorities like Rashi, Isaac bar Sheshet and Mordekhai. Schiff also wrote sermon on the Torah. Much of his writings are lost including notes on the four Ṭurim, as well as his cabalistic works and Talmudic decisions.
Meir ben Shmuel was a French rabbi and one of the early Baa'lei HaTosfot. He was one of the founders of the Tosafot school and approach to Talmudic commentary. He was a son-in-law of Rashi, and three of his sons, Rashbam, Rivam and Rabbenu Tam, were amongst the greatest talmudists and tosafists, as well as leaders of their generation.
Talmudic scholar in 11th century Germany, often cited by Rashi and other Rishonim. He was also a chazzan, which earned him the appellation "Shliach Tzibur", and composed many piyutim. He is most known for the piyut "Akdamut Milin" which is recited by most congregations before the Torah reading on the festival of Shavuot.
17th-century Austrian rabbi and commentator. He studied in the yeshiva of R' Yoel Sirkes (Bach) in Krakow, eventually serving in that community as Dayan. His main work is "Ateret Zekenim", a commentary on Shulchan Aruch of which only the part on Orach Chaim has been published, appearing in most standard editions of Shulchan Aruch.
He studied under Rav Chaim Soloveitchik in Brisk and served as a rabbi in several communities, including Novardok. He wrote a comprehensive commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah, sermons and many articles.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Krengel was a Polish author and bibliographer from the city of Krakow. His main contribution to Jewish scholarship was his revised edition of Chaim Yosef David Azulai’s bibliographical work, Shem HaGedolim. Krengel added a biography of the author (known as the Chida), a bibliography of the Chida’s works, extensive annotations, and additional names of authors from Krakow that the Chida had omitted from Shem HaGedolim. Krengel was also involved in an extended controversy with Krakow’s rabbi over the eruv in Krakow, and published a work on the matter entitled “Torat Eruvin.”
Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch was third rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. His mother died shortly after his birth and he was raised by his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad. After the death of his uncle, Rabbi Dov Baer, the Mittler Rebbe, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Chassidim to accept other candidates as rebbe, and only acceded to their demands after three years. He was a recognized Posek (decisor of Jewish law) and his many responsa were published in the influential work by which he is known, "Tzemach Tzedek". He also wrote a mystical exposition of the mitzvot, "Derech Mitzvotecha". In opposing the Haskalah, he formed a strong bond with prominent leaders of the Mitnagdim (opponents of Chassidism), which lead to a kind of rapprochement. He actively promoted the expansion of Chabad yeshivot in towns in which there were concentrations of Chabad Chassidim, and he sent students to lift the spirits of young cantonist (boys taken into the Russian army with the intent of their eventual apostasy). He was succeeded as rebbe by his youngest son, Shmuel, while other sons set up competing Chabad courts, some of which persisted until World War 2.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as "The Rebbe," was the last Chabad-Lubavitcher rebbe and the pioneer of the Jewish outreach movement. Under his leadership, Chabad emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the most influential forces of Jewish life in the 20th century. Escaping Nazi Europe, he arrived in New York in 1941, where he became the head of Chabad's educational and social service networks. In 1951 he succeeded his father in law as Rebbe and immediately expanded the "shlichut" system that had been established by his predecessor, sending pairs of yeshiva students to far-flung Jewish communities to reconnect Jews to their heritage. He also worked actively internationally, helping to free thousands of Iranian Jews during the 1979 revolution, and later providing for the religious and educational needs of Jews trapped inside the Soviet Union. He authored a commentary on the Passover Haggada and a special calendar for Chabad Chassidim, but the bulk of his scholarship was not recorded directly by him, but was rather culled from his numerous talks delivered on special occasions, from personal notes discovered after his death, and from his vast correspondence. This material fills tens of volumes and still has not been completely published.
One of the prime disciples of the Baal Shem Tov and colleague of the Maggid of Mezeritch. Emigrated to the Holy land together with Nachman of Horodenka and other students in 1764 and settled in Tiberias.
Early Chassidic leader, disciple of the Maggid of Mezeritch and prime disseminator of Chasidut in White Russia and Lithuania. In the winter of 1772, he traveled with Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi to meet with the Vilna Gaon, with the aim of convincing him to rescind his ban on Chasidism, but they did not succeed in gaining entry to the Gaon and the meeting did not take place. In 1777, he headed the emigration of 300 of his followers to the Holy Land. He first settled in Safed, but facing persecution from the Turks, he relocated to Tiberias, where he is buried. The works containing his teachings are: "Pri Ha'Aretz", Pri Ha'eitz" and "Likutei Amarim".
Menachem Nochum Twersky of Chernobyl, also known as the "Meor Einayim," was a student of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch. He was a gifted and enthusiastic orator and one of the earliest disseminators of Chassidism in the Ukraine. He became the maggid of Chernobyl and the founder of the Chernobyl dynasty, which includes many famous scions of the Twersky family. He was the author of Meor Einayim, Chassidic insights into the weekly Torah portion and the holidays.
A 12th centruy Italian scholar and Hebrew grammarian, he is most well-known for his authorship of Midrash Sekhel Tov. He also composed another major work on Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, Evan Bohan, loosely based on the work Menachem ben Saruq.
Rabbi Menachem di Lonzano was a 16th-century rabbi, lexicographer, and kabbalist. He was born in Italy or Turkey, moved to Jerusalem as a young adult, and lived in Constantinople and Italy before returning to Jerusalem at the end of his life. He wrote works of poetry, a work discussing the masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, a dictionary of talmudic words, and notes on the Jerusalem Talmud, among other books.
A Bohemian rabbi who served in several communities before becoming the chief rabbi of the state. He was involved in several controversies as chief rabbi, trying to contain what he saw as moves towards reform. He wrote several works, including a commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah.
10th century Hebrew grammarian and poet, author of "Machberet", an early dictionary of the Hebrew language. He served as assistant to the statesman Hasdai ibn Shaprut of Cordoba, at whose request he compiled the dictionary. However, not everyone agreed with his linguistics. Chief among his opponents was the philologist Dunash ben Labrat, who wrote an extensive criticism of Menahem's work. However, Machberet did not lose it's authoritativeness, and is quoted frequently some 200 years later by such luminaries as Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam.
Menasseh ben Israel was a 17th-century Portuguese rabbi, kabbalist, writer, diplomat, printer and publisher. Born into a family of conversos in the midst of the Inquisition, ben Israel established the first Hebrew printing press in Holland. He was also active in advocating for the return of expelled Jews to England, motivated in part by a belief that the settlement of Jews throughout the world would hasten the coming of the messiah.
13th century German scholar, author of a Halachic compendium bearing the same name. Mordechai was a primary student of Maharam M'Rotenberg and a son-in-law of R' Yechiel of Paris. His work, known simply as "The Mordechai", is a compilation of Halakhic rulings and customs enacted by the great sages of that and preceding generations. It follows the order of Rif's "Sefer Halachot", and is printed immediately after the Rif in the Vilna Shas. Being that the author collected the material but did not actually publish it in final form, there are two vastly different versions of this work — the Rhenish edition and the Austrian edition. Our editions of Talmud contain the Rhenish version, which is the shorter of the two. Mordechai was martyred together with his entire family in 1298 during the "Rhindfleish" massacres in Nuremberg.
Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica was a Hasidic thinker and founder of the Izhbitza-Radzyn dynasty. He is best known for his work Mei Hashiloach, a compilation of his teachings by his grandson, in which he expressed his belief in pre-determinism. He was a disciple of R' Simcha Bunim of Pshischa and R' Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. His leading disciple was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Eiger, grandson of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. His students included Rabbi Zadok HaKohen of Lublin, his son, Rabbi Yaakov Leiner and his grandson Rabbi Gershon Henoch Leiner of Radzyn.
Rabbi Mordechai Yafeh Margaliyot was born in Hungary and served as rabbi in Kirchberg, Austria and later in Budapest, Hungary. His notes on the Jerusalem Talmud were originally published in the Vilna edition of the Jerusalem Talmud.
The great-grandson and namesake of the author of the Mei HaShiloach, he moved his followers to Warsaw, where he became an influential leader of global Orthodox Jewry. He wrote books defending his father's innovations, especially regarding the dye of tsitsit, as well as a book of his own original ideas on the holidays and parshat hashavua.
Renowned 16th century Polish scholar and primary Halakhic authority for European Jewry, author of Sefer HaMappah (also known as Hagahot HaRama) on Shulchan Arukh, and Darkei Moshe on Tur. He was born in Crakow to Yisrael, (also known as "Isserl", from which was fashioned the surname "Isserles"), and studied under Shalom Shachna of Lublin, who later became his father-in-law. He became Rabbi in Crakow and established a yeshiva there, which he funded from his own resources. He also served on the Council of the Four Lands. His other works are: Torat Chatat on kosher dietary laws; Torat HaOlah, a philosophical explanation of the Holy Temple and it's sacrifices; Teshuvot Rama (responsa); and Mechir Yayin, an allegorical commentary on the Book of Esther, which was written in his youth one Purim under difficult circumstances and given to his family in lieu of mishloach manot.
Rabbi Moshe Rivkes was born in Prague and settled, early in life, in Vilna, Lithuania. His father, R' Naphtali Hirsch Sofer of Vilna, was a scribe and a great Torah scholar. His mother, Rivkah, took upon herself the financial support of the family so her husband could devote himself to his studies, as a result of which the surname "Rivkes" was appended to her son's name, in deference to her. In 1655, when Cossack hordes descended upon Vilna and committed widespread massacres, Rabbi Moshe was forced to flee the city along with R' Shabtai Hacohen (the author of the Shach), R' Ephraim HaCohen (the author of Sha’ar Ephraim), and R' Aaron Shmuel Kaidanover (the author of Birkat HaZevach). They eventually found refuge in Amsterdam, where R' Moshe published his great work on the Shulchan Aruch, entitled "Be’er HaGolah". It indicates the various sources for the Halachic decisions of the Mechaber and Rama, along with brief comments by the author. Although he was accorded great respect in Amsterdam, Rabbi Moshe yearned to return to Vilna, his hometown, and he succeeded in doing so before his death. The Vilna Gaon was a descendant of R' Moshe and often cites him in his "Biur HaGra" on Shulchan Aruch.
Moses Sofer (Schreiber), better known by the name of his work "Hatam Sofer", was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of Austrian - Hungarian Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was a teacher to thousands and a powerful opponent to the Reform movement in Judaism, which was attracting many people from the Jewish communities in the Austrian Empire and beyond. He was born in Frankfurt to R' Shmuel Sofer, and studied under Rabbi Nathan Adler and Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz (Hafla'ah). After marriage he became head of the yeshiva in Prostějov, following which he accepted a rabbinical position in Strážnice, and subsequently in Mattersdorf. In 1807 he was appointed as Rabbi of Pressburg (Bratislava), where he also founded a large Yeshiva that produced many students who themselves became noted rabbis. As Rabbi of the city of Pressburg, he maintained a strong Orthodox Jewish perspective through communal life, first-class education, and uncompromising opposition to Reform and radical change. Sofer published very little during his lifetime, but his posthumously published works include more than a thousand responsa, novellae on the Talmud, sermons, biblical and liturgical commentaries, and religious poetry. He is an oft-quoted authority in Orthodox Jewish scholarship and many of his responsa are required reading for semikha (rabbinic ordination) candidates. He had 10 children with his second wife, who was the daughter of R' Akiva Eiger, two of whom were renowned rabbis in their own right. The eldest, Avraham Shmuel Binyamin (Ketav Sofer), inherited his father's position as rabbi of Pressburg. His second son, Shimon (Michtav Sofer), was the rabbi of Krakow.
Moshe ben Yitzchak Yehudah Lima was a Polish/Lithuanian rabbi and posek. He learned in Cracow and served as rabbi in Slonim before moving to Vilna and, at the end of his life, to Brisk. The Shach was a member of the beit din over which he presided. His work, Chelkat Mechokek, is one of the basic commentaries to Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer.
French Tosafist who lived in the first half of the 13th century, a disciple of R' Yehuda of Paris. He authored the Halachic code Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, known by it's abbreviation "S'MaG". He was a gifted orator and used his power of speech while traveling through France and Spain to rebuke the masses regarding their neglect in fulfilling various Jewish commandments, such as Tefillin, Tzitzit and Mezuzah. In Spain he was instrumental in convincing many who had intermarried to repent and give up their non-Jewish wives. In 1240, he was was one of the four rabbis who were required to defend the Talmud against the accusations of the apostate Nicholas Donin in a public disputation in Paris, which led to the public burning of the Talmud. He also authored Tosafot on the Talmud, of which his commentary on Yoma is printed in the Vilna Shas as "Tosafot Yeshanim".
Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel (1883-1946) was the chief rabbi of Antwerp and later of Tel Aviv, a noted Jewish philosopher, and a leader in the Mizrachi and religious-Zionist movements. He founded many schools and yeshivot (talmudic academies) in both Antwerp and Israel, some of which now carry his name. Among Rav Amiel’s many works are collections of sermons he delivered, a celebrated three-volume book on legal methodology, and essays outlining his perspective on contemporary Judaism.
Author of the Chassidic classic "Degel Machaneh Ephraim." He was a son of the Baal Shem Tov's daughter Udel, and brother of R' Baruch of Medzhybizh. (His sister Faiga was the mother of R' Nachman of Breslov.) After his grandfather's death, he studied under the Maggid of Mezeritch and R' Jacob Joseph of Polonne. In 1780, he settled in Sudilkov (near Shepetivka) where he served as Maggid until 1785. He then returned to Medzhybizh and served as Rebbe there until his death in 1800. He is buried next to his grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, in Medzhybizh.
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Ramchal) was an Italian rabbi, kabbalist and philosopher who also wrote dramatic works and literary criticism. Gifted with an almost photographic memory, he wrote many works, some which became standards of kabbalah and ethics. He was suspected of Sabbateanism, but was exonerated by his teachers and colleagues with a warning to cease engaging in speculative kabbalistic writing. Toward the end of his life he moved to the Land of Israel.
Moshe Cordovero, also referred to as RaMaK, was a leading kabbalist who lived and taught in Tsfat. His best-known work, Pardes Rimmonim, is a systematization of various school of kabbalistic thought. He authored many highly influential works, included a defense of kabbalah, a highly-regarded ethical work based on kabbalistic thought, and a comprehensive commentary on the Zohar. He had many disciples and was considered the premier kabbalistic authority until superseded by R. Yitzchak Luria shortly after his death.
Rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Monsey, New York, and senior Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University's RIETS and Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and Biology at Yeshiva College. He is a son-in-law of R' Moshe Feinstein, and himself a noted expert on Jewish medical ethics and their relationship to Halakha.
Leading decisor of Jewish law of the 20th century and Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferet Jerusalem in New York. Born in Uzda, Belarus, and served as rabbi in Luban for 16 years. After suffering from oppression under the Soviet regime, he moved with his family to New York City in 1937 where he lived for the remainder of his life. He authored the multivolume responsa "Igrot Moshe", as well as novellae on Talmud entitled "Dibrot Moshe".
Rabbi Moshe Margalit was an 18th-century Lithuanian rabbi and the author of two central commentaries on the Jerusalem Talmud, Penei Moshe and Mareh Panim. He served as the rabbi of the city in which he was born, Keidan, and traveled Europe in search of manuscripts and knowledge that would aid him in composing his commentaries. Rabbi Margalit also registered to study botany at a university in Brandenburg at the age of 70 in order to better inform his commentary on Seder Zeraim, the Order of the Talmud dealing with agricultural laws.
A student of Rabbi Yaakov Beirab, he was part of the kabbalistic circles of Safed. He was appointed that community's rabbi at the age of twenty and continued in that role for the next fifty-five years. During that time, he authored many works including two volumes of responsa and an important commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah.
Moshe de Leon was a Spanish rabbi and kabbalist. Though he wrote kabbalistic works which appeared under his name, his most famous association is with the Zohar, which is attributed to the Tanna, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Due to his intimate involvement in the emergence of the Zohar, some attribute its composition, in part or in its entirety, to him. This association figured in controversies surrounding the Zohar shortly after it became widely known. He was widely knowledgeable both in philosophy and Kabbalah, and he was a gifted writer with a flair for evocative turns of phrase. He dedicated two of his works to Todros HaLevi Abulafia. He spent most of his adult years in Guadalajara, before moving to Avila in his latter years.
Nachman of Breslov was one of the most creative chassidic masters, whose thought and teachings continue to resonate within wide circles far beyond his immediate followers. He was a great-grandson of the founder of Chassidut, R. Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov, and a grandson of another early chassidic master, R. Nachman of Horodenka. Among his many works are a profound presentation of his chassidic and mystical teaching, Likkutei Moharan, and a compilation of his intricate and powerfully evocative stories, Sippurei Ma'asiyot. Another work relates the events of his transformative journey to and from the Land of Israel. He was severely criticized by certain contemporary chassidic masters, but defended by the leading chassidic master, R. Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev. He moved to Uman less than a year before he passed away from tuberculosis, and his grave there is a pilgrimage site for thousands to this day.
A product of Enlightenment-era Germany, Wessely came from a wealthy family with business connections to many of the leaders of Europe. He studied Torah under Rabbi Yochanan Eybeschutz, but received a broad education as well. Later, he worked with Moses Mendelssohn on the Biur translation of the Torah into German, and also wrote many other works. He became controversial for his vigorous support for the study of German and secular studies in Jewish schools.
Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (Netziv) was a Lithuanian rabbi and one of the greatest scholars of his time. He was born into a family of Jewish scholars, a descendant on his mother's side of Meir Eisenstadt. His first wife was the granddaughter of R. Chaim Volozhin, and his second the daughter of R. Yechiel Michel Epstein. In 1854 he was appointed head of the Volozhin yeshiva, where he introduced a style of Talmud study based on broad knowledge of Tannaitic and Geonic literature as well as the Rishonim. He also emphasized the importance of the study of Chumash and Nach, giving a daily shiur on the weekly parsha. In 1894 he was forced to close the yeshiva by the Russian government, which demanded that secular studies replace Talmud study until 3:00 pm each day. He was the father of R. Chaim Berlin and R. Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin).
Natan ben Yechiel of Rome was an Italian rabbi and lexicographer. His central work, the Aruch, was the first Talmudic dictionary and achieved a wide circulation soon after publication. He worked as a peddler of linen, until the opportunity came to devote himself entirely to Torah study. He travelled abroad to study with luminaries in Sicily and Narbonne, eventually returning to serve as head of the yeshiva in Rome.
Main disciple of R' Nachman of Breslov and leader of the movement after his death. However, he did not actually assume his teacher's position as Rebbe of Breslov, being that R' Nachman had not named a successor. R' Nathan is the one responsible for preserving R' Nachman's teachings by recording, publishing and disseminating them. He also authored many of his own works, including the multi-volume "Likutei Halachot", an esoteric work which follows the order of the Shulchan Arukh.
Nathaniel Weil was a German rabbi and Talmudist born to Rabbi Naphtali Zvi Hirsch Weil. A child protégé he was quickly permitted to attend the lectures of R. Abraham Broda for advanced students. He was appointed Rabbi in Metz but after almost a decade returned to Prague where he taught Talmud and was the assistant rabbi. After being expelled from Prague, he was appointed to the rabbinate of Mühringen where he started his commentary on the Rosh before moving to Karlsruhe and completing it. His remaining writings were published posthumously.
Nissim ben Jacob (Nissim Gaon) was a rabbi, Talmudic commentator and leader of the Jewish community of Kairwan, Tunisia. He learned primarily from his father, Rav Yaakov Gaon – a student of Hai Gaon – and Chushiel ben Elchanan. After his father's death, he was chosen by the Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbedita as his replacement as head of the academy of Kairwan. He maintained an active correspondence with Hai Gaon and with Shmuel Hanaggid, creating a channel of discourse between eastern and western schools of Jewish thought. His most famous student was Isaac Alfasi (Rif).
Nosson Tzvi Finkel, also known as the Alter of Slobodka, was an influential Lithuanian Jewish leader of Orthodox Judaism in Eastern Europe. He founded and led the Slobodka Yeshiva (Yeshivat Knesset Yisrael), shaping its identity as a flagship institution incorporating the study and practice of Musar. In 1924, he helped create a branch of his yeshiva in Hebron, ultimately relocating there himself for the final two years of his life. Many of his students became major leaders of Orthodox Judaism in the USA and Israel. His son, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, became the head of the Mir Yeshiva, the largest post-high school yeshiva in the world today.
Onkelos, according to tradition, was a Roman convert to Judaism who lived in the first or second century. He translated Tanach into Aramaic, the spoken language of the day. Some identify Onkelos with a convert named Aquilas who translated the Tanach into Greek. According to tradition, he was counseled by his uncle, the emperor, to succeed by buying low and selling high. He later explained his conversion to his incensed uncle by repeating to him his own advice from years past. Onkelos' translation became the standard Aramaic translation, used daily by Jews world-wide long after Aramaic ceased being a living language for most Jews.
Ovadiah MiBartenura was an Italian rabbi, banker, Mishnaic commentator and community leader. He studied under Maharik Kolon in Bolonya. In 1485 he began a 2.5 year journey to the Land of Israel, evidently upon the death of his wife. He visited in many communities along the way, eventually settling in Jerusalem. He quickly became prominent, and labored unceasingly to restore Jewish communal life, both material and spiritual, there to the prominence it had lacked for so long. He was largely successful in his efforts; he reestablished a hevra kadisha in which he actively served, as well as a yeshiva upon the arrivals of learned Spanish exiles. He was recognized as a halachic authority, served as chief rabbi of Jerusalem (recognized as such also by the Moslem authorities), succeeded in reducing the tax burden upon the community, and revived the use of Hebrew by delivering his weekly Shabbat sermons in the holy tongue. His commentary on Mishnah is to the Mishnah what Rashi's is to the Talmud – basic, straightforward, and indispensable to this day.
Ovadiah Yosef was the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983 and the greatest halachic authority for Sephardic Jewry in the modern era. He was born in Baghdad and made aliyah to Jerusalem with his family at the age of four. In 1950 he was appointed dayan to the rabbinical court of Petach Tikva, where he issued the first of many bold and innovative rulings that marked his career. In 1984 he became a notable figure in Israeli politics by founding the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party Shas, serving as its spiritual leader until his death in 2013.
Late 13th century Tosafist, author of "Tosafot Rabbeinu Peretz" on the Talmud, of which only a few tractates are currently extant. He also authored glosses on "Sefer Mitzvot Katan" written by his teacher R' Isaac of Corbeil, and on "Sefer HaTashbetz" by his student R' Samson ben Tzadok. A Masoretic work entitled "Sefer Peretz" is no longer extant.
Pinchas ben Yosef Halevi was a brother of the famous Spanish Talmudist, R. Aharon Halevi. Little is known about the details of his life. Some recent scholars have argued that he was the author of the anonymous work often ascribed to his brother R' Aharon, Sefer HaChinukh.
Rabbi Aharon HaLevi (Ra'ah) was a Spanish rabbi, Talmudic commentator, posek and critic of Rashba's Torat HaBayit. He was born in Gerona, Spain to a long line of rabbis reaching back to the Baal HaMaor. He studied with his father, Rabbi Joseph HaLevi, as well as with Ramban. Although he was originally ascribed authorship of Sefer HaChinukh, this attribution has been undermined and, of late, refuted.
Avraham ben David of Posquieres (Ra'avad) was a Provencal rabbi, Talmudic commentator, and mystic. His best-known works are his extensive critical comments on Rambam's Mishneh Torah which are published alongside the Rambam's text in almost every version. He also engaged in written disputes via commentary with his younger contemporary, R. Zerachiah HaLevi, in defence of the Rif's Halachot. He wrote talmudic commentaries which are quoted extensively by a number of Rishonim, but have been lost for the most part. It was from his circle that Kabbalah emerged in the 12th century, and the early prominent kabbalists cite his activity as central to that emergence.
Eliezer ben Natan (Ra'avan) was a German rabbi, posek and commentator. His contemporaries and successors refer to him as an authoritative transmitter and decisor of Jewish tradition and practice. Among his descendants and relatives were some of the great rabbinic figures of the next generations. He was one of the first Ashkenazic scholars to quote extensively from the Talmudic commentary of Rabbeynu Chananel. He was also the first German scholar to pen commentaries on piyyut (liturgical poetry).
Eliezer ben Yoel Halevi (Ra'avyah) was a German rabbi, posek and Talmudic scholar. Wandering between communities in Germany and France, he refused to serve in a formal rabbinic position until poverty compelled him to accept a rabbinic position in Cologne, where he became famous. His halachic works were considered authoritative and indispensable to his and subsequent generations. His brother's martyrdom caused him to grieve so intensely that his vision was impaired, and he dictated his later works to students. He was also active as as one of the Ba'alei HaTosafot.
Yonah Gerondi (Rabbeinu Yonah) was a Spanish rabbi, Talmudist and ethicist. His best-known work is Sha'arei Teshuva, a comprehensive work on repentance. He also wrote chiddushim (Talmudic novellae) on a number of tractates, quoted by contemporaries and later authors. He was one of the most prominent opponents of the Rambam's philosophical works. When the attacks on the Rambam's works culminated in a public burning of wagon-loads of Talmud by Christian authorities, Rabbeinu Yonah publicly admitted his error in involving outside players, and gave Rambam a prominent and revered place in his teaching. It is surmised that this turn of events motivated Rabbeinu Yonah to write Sha'arei Teshuva.
Yaakov ben Meir (Rabbenu Tam) was a French rabbi, halachic authority, liturgical poet and one of the greatest of the Ba'alei HaTosafot. His renown extended from his native France and Germany to Spain and beyond. In his Tosafot commentary, he often disagrees with the opinion of his grandfather, Rashi. The best known of these disagreements is in regard to the order of the passages contained in the head-worn tefillin, and it continues to impact daily Jewish practice to this day. He narrowly escaped death at the hands of Crusaders. He befriended Ibn Ezra during the latter's stay in France, and they maintained a subsequent correspondence.
Yerucham ben Meshulam, better known as Rabbenu Yerucham, was a Spanish rabbi and halachist. He was a student of the Rosh. His two works of halacha, Sefer Meisharim and Sefer Toldot Adam v'Chavah, were published together and known popularly as "Rabbenu Yerucham". His rulings are quoted by R. Yosef Karo in his Beit Yosef. Popular legend has led to few editions of Rabbenu Yerucham's works being printed, as those who commented on or reproduced the work were reputed to have suffered.
Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Harush was a 19th century Moroccan rabbi. He was known for his great humility and constant devotion to Torah study. His sermons and poetry were also highly admired. He served briefly as the chief rabbi of Alkatzar, but did not find it to his liking and returned to his home of Sefrou after only a short time. He wrote a commentary on the Chumash and the Haggadah.
Chananel ben Chushiel (Rabbeinu Chananel) was a North African rabbi and talmudist. He is considered one of the first Rishonim and studied under the last of the Geonim. His family was from Italy and migrated to Kairowan, where he ultimately attained great renown. He served as rosh yeshiva in Kairowan after the passing of his father. He maintained a lively correspondence with the heads of the great yeshivot in Babylonia. He was also successful in business and attained great wealth. His is the earliest comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.
David Kimchi (Radak) was a Provencal rabbi, biblical commentator, grammarian and philosopher, born to a family of grammarians and commentators. His father, R. Yosef Kimchi, wrote a popular polemic work defending Judaism against Christian attacks and his brother, Moshe, was a well-known commentator. Radak himself participated in a number of public religious disputations to defend Judaism. He also took part in the disputes surrounding Rambam's philosophical works. Influenced by Ibn Ezra and the Rambam in philosophical matters, he sided with those who supported the permissibility of philosophic study. Radak cautioned, however, that it should be undertaken only by those whose faith was well-grounded. His commentaries on Tanakh display his grammatical mastery, and are amongst the most basic and commonly referenced.
Levi ben Gershon (Ralbag) was a Provencal philosopher, physician, mathematician, astronomer, Talmudic commentator and Torah commentator. He seems to never have accepted a rabbinic post, and little is known about his life – even the place and date of his death is unclear. Ralbag was a strict Aristotelian, and in his great philosophical work, Milchamot Hashem, he critiques Rambam on some points where he deviates from Aristotelian teaching. He was also a fervent believer in astrology, and astrological determinism pervades his philosophical work, though he did maintain the notion of human free-will. His philosophical views lead to opposition to his works in some circles. His mathematical works were sophisticated, influential and ground-breaking; he is noted for his work in combinatorics and early use of the principle of mathematical induction. Some of these works were even translated into Latin at the request of Christian scholars. The Ralbag was credited for inventing the 'Jacob's staff,' an astronomical device. Finally, he is perhaps best known today for his commentary on the Tanach, which displays his wide learning and interweaves halachic matters and rulings. He wrote several Talmudic works, most of which have since been lost.
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam, also know as Maimonides) was perhaps the greatest intellectual and spiritual figure of post-Talmudic Judaism. He wrote indispensable works of philosophy, Halacha, commentary, and responsa. Born in Spain, his family fled while he was still a youth. After an extended period in Morocco, he settled in Egypt, where he became Nagid (leader) of the Jewish community. His works were all foundational in their field. He was the first to produce a comprehensive commentary on the entire Mishnah. His great work of philosophy, Moreh Nevuchim, spawned an entire discipline and had incalculable influence upon enthusiastic promoters and vehement opponents alike. His code of law, Mishneh Torah, is the first and unsurpassed comprehensive code of Jewish law and practice. He also served as court physician to the Muslim leader Saladin. All of his works were written in Judeo-Arabic except for Mishneh Torah, which was written in a magnificent Hebrew. The precision of his expression is legendary. His descendents served as Negidim of Egypt for another four generations.
Moshe ben Nachman, also known as Ramban, was a leading Torah scholar of the middle ages who authored commentaries on Torah and the Talmud. He was a posek who wrote responsa and stand-alone works on Halachic topics, as well as works on mysticism, science and philosophy. Ramban's commentary on the Torah often critiques earlier commentaries and incorporates kabbalistic teachings. He was born in Gerona, Spain, where he established a large yeshiva which produced hundreds of disciples who became leaders of Spanish Jewry. In 1263 he took part in a debate in Barcelona with an apostate Jew named Pablo Christiani, at the behest of the Church. In 1267, at the age of 72, he immigrated to the Holy Land, where he settled in Akko (Acre). He died there at age 76.
Rabbi Nissim ben Reuven (Ran) was a Spanish rabbi, Talmudic commentary and philosopher and the pre-eminent Spanish halachic authority of his generation. His commentaries to the Talmud and to Hilchot HaRif are main elements of yeshiva curriculum to this day. He was responsible for the establishment of the yeshiva and beit din in Barcelona. Like his predecessor, Rashba, Ran's renown extended to Jewish communities well beyond Spain, who addressed their questions to him and sought his guidance. He was not inclined toward Kabbalah, but tended toward a more philosophical bent in his great ethical work, Derashot HaRan.
Rabbi Raphael Aharon ben Shimon was born in Rabat 1848 and died in 1928 in Tel Aviv. At young age was appointed to serve as the secretary to his father’s court in Jerusalem. He travelled as an emissary to Germany and France on behalf of the yeshivah Doresh Zion in Jerusalem, but upon the death of his father, he was appointed emissary on behalf of the board of the Morocco Community in Jerusalem. He used this as an opportunity to gather and published the writing of Moroccan Jewry. Later he was appointed as Chief Rabbi (Hakham Bashi) in Egypt (1891-1921). His final years were spent in Tel Aviv as Judge.
Shlomo ben Avraham ibn Adret (Rashba) was a Spanish rabbi, Talmudic commentator, posek and community leader in the 14th century. He lived his entire life in Barcelona. He is considered the most outstanding student of the Ramban, and continued his approach in Talmudic exposition, authoring chiddushim (Talmudic novellae) on many tractates which remain mainstays of Torah study to this day. His yeshiva drew exceptional students from throughout the Jewish world, including quite a number from Germany. He functioned as chief rabbi of Spain and wrote over one thousand responsa to individuals and communities throughout the Jewish world. He was involved in opposition to Rambam's philosophical writings and prohibited the study of philosophy under the age of 25. He also defended Judaism to Christian and Moslem polemicists, and vigorously opposed the activity of R. Avraham Abulafia. He vigorously defended his work, Torat HaBayit, against R. Aharon Halevy's often strident comments.
Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) was a French Tosafist and Torah commentator. He was a son of Rashi's daughter, Yocheved, and older brother of the famous Tosafists, Isaac ben Meir (Rivam) and Jacob ben Meir (Rabbeinu Tam). His Torah commentary is concise, and hews strictly to the concept of the "peshat" or plain-sense meaning of the text, sometimes at the expense of received rabbinic traditions. He does not hesitate to argue with Rashi when he feels that his commentary strayed from the plain meaning of the verse. Rashbam also wrote a lengthier commentary on the Talmud, portions of which are printed in the Vilna Shas where no commentary of Rashi is available. Rashbam's opinions are also frequently mentioned in the Tosafot throughout Shas.
Shlomo ben Yitzhak, best known by the acronym "Rashi", was an early and influential medieval Torah and Talmud commentator. He was born in Troyes, France, and as a young man he studied in the yeshivot of Worms and Mainz. At the age of twenty-five he returned to Troyes and opened his own yeshiva. He supported his family and his yeshiva by growing grapes and producing and selling wine. Widely known as the father of all commentators, his commentary on the Bible and Talmud is considered an indispensable tool for Torah study. He described his aim as clarifying the "peshat" or "plain-sense" meaning of each verse. He was also a posek who authored responsa.
Rav Re'em HaCohen is a Religious Zionist rabbi who serves as the head of Yeshivat Otniel and the rabbi of the community of Otniel. Influenced by the thought of his teachers - among them Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Aryeh Bina, and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein - his teachings incorporate legal and kabbalistic sources, as well as academic and professional ones.
Menachem ben Binyamin Recanati was an Italian kabbalist and posek. Very little is known about his life. He was one of the first well-known kabbalists in Italy, though he also was strongly influenced by the prominent Chassidei Ashkenaz figures, R.Yehudah Hechasic and R. Eleazar Rokeach. His kabbalistic commentary to the Torah was translated into Latin and played an important role in the emergence of Christian kabbalah.
Yitzchak Alfasi, better known as the Rif, was a North African rabbi, Talmudic commentator, and posek. His most famous work is Hilchot HaRif, a digest of Talmudic discussions which omits the lengthy deliberations and focuses on the conclusions, followed by the Rif's decisions, which became widely authoritative and formed one of the pillars of the Shulchan Aruch. He is sometimes considered the last of the Geonim, due to the great authority and reverence he enjoyed. His teacher was Rabbenu Chananel, and among his students were R. Yehudah Halevi and R. Yosef (the Ri) Migash.
Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham Isbilli (Ritva) was a Spanish rabbi and Talmudic commentator. His commentaries to many tractates of the Talmud are a mainstay of yeshiva study to this day. Some see in the surname 'Isbili' an indication that he was born in Seville in southern Spain, but this is in doubt as his grandfather was also known by this surname. He was a leading student of Re'ah and Rashba. In addition to his Talmudic studies, he also devoted significant time and energy to the study of Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim and other philosophical works. He served as rabbi of Saragossa, where he established a beit din and yeshiva.
Yitzchak ben Asher Halevi (Riva) was one of the first Ba'alei HaTosafot. He lived in Speyer and was a student of Rashi. He also seems to have studied with Rashi's teacher, R. Yitzchak ben Yehudah, and, after Rashi's death, with Rashi's son-in-law, R. Meir ben Shmuel. His grandson, bearing the same name, died a martyr's death in Speyer in 1196 during a pogrom instigated by a blood libel. He was given great respect by the leading sages of his generation, and was renown for his piety and asceticism.
Yehudah ben Natan (Rivan) was a French rabbi, Talmudic commentator and one of the early Baa'lei HaTosafot. He was a son-in-law of Rashi and in certain ways extended his work. He is quoted in many places throughout the Tosafot.
Asher ben Yehiel was a prominent Talmudic commentator, posek and one of the Ba'alei Hatosafot. He was born, lived and taught in Germany, fleeing with his family to Spain after the imprisonment and death of his teacher, Maharam of Rothenburg. He served as as leading authority in Spain alongside the Rashba. Due to the tremendous impact of his work, Hilchot HaRosh, his halachic authority was so widely regarded that he was one of three sages selected by R. Yosef Karo to serve as the "Beit Din" for his Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch.
Sa'adia was a Polish/Lithuanian rabbi and prominent disciple of the Gra. He lived in his house, studied closely with him and served as a manuensis for a number of his works. He was sent by the Gra to publicize the latter's strident opposition to Chassidism. He came to the Land of Israel as one of the leaders of the second wave of the aliyah of the Gra's students.
Saadia Gaon (Rasag) was a philosopher, posek, biblical commentator, polemicist, grammarian and pre-eminent Jewish leader of Mesopotamian Jewry. He was born and educated in Cairo, Egypt. In 928 he was appointed Gaon (preeminent spiritual and temporal leader) of the academy of Sura, and subsequently his influence spread throughout the Jewish world. Most of his works have been lost over time, but his best-known work, Emunot v'De'ot, which was the first systematic work of Jewish philosophy, is still extant and popularly studied to this day. His ground-breaking work in Hebrew grammar was part of his polemic against Karaism. Parts of his commentaries to Torah and Talmud have been preserved in books written by other Geonim, some of which have recently been published. He was the first Torah sage to write extensively in Judeo-Arabic.
Samson Raphael Hirsch was a German scholar, rabbi, activist and pioneer of the Torah Im Derekh Eretz school of contemporary Orthodox Judaism. He received both a general and religious education as a youth, the latter taking place under the mentorship of Chacham Isaac Bernays and Rabbi Jacob Ettinger. He began studies at the University of Bonn but did not obtain a degree. At the age of 22 he became the Chief Rabbi of Oldenburg. Within 8 years he had published both his "Nineteen Letters of Ben Uziel" and "Horeb", together presenting compelling intellectual explications of Orthodoxy and a defense of its precepts and institutions. He also served as rabbi in Emden, Nikolsburg (Moravia), and Frankfurt am Main. In each post he used his considerable skills as an orator and writer to promote an Orthodoxy that could withstand the relentless challenge of the Reform movement. As Chief Rabbi of Moravia, he was politically active in the ultimately successful struggle for Jewish emancipation. Later, he was largely responsible for convincing the Prussian parliament to permit Jews to secede from the official state-recognized Jewish religious community, allowing break-off congregations to preserve their traditional, Orthodox character. His greatest legacy, however, is his philosophy of Torah Im Derekh Eretz, synthesizing Torah learning with secular learning, particularly of the sciences. His influence reached far beyond Germany, and his Torah commentary, which has been translated from the original German to Hebrew and English, is widely studied and often quoted.
12-13th century French Tosafist, also known by the acronym "Rash" or "Rashba" (not to be confused with R' Shlomo ben Aderet). Born in France, he first studied under Rabbeinu Tam, and later under Rabbeinu Yitzchak (Ri HaZaken) who was his primary teacher. Rosh considers him to be the preeminent Baal Tosafot after Rabbeinu Tam and Ri. Many of the Tosafot which are printed in our Talmud are either taken from Rash's work, "Tosafot Shantz", or based on them. Rash's commentary on Mishnayot Zeraim and Taharot, on which there is no Talmud, is printed along with Rambam's commentary in the Vilna Shas. In 1211, Rash joined a group of 300 French and English scholars who emigrated to Israel in order to escape the persecution of Jews taking place in their countries. He lived in Jerusalem, earning him the title "Ish Yerushalayim", and is buried in Akko (Acre).
Samuel ben Uri Shraga Phoebus was a Polish rabbi and Talmudist of Woydyslaw in the second half of the 17th century. In his early youth he was a pupil of Rabbi Heshel in Cracow, and on the latter's death he continued his studies under R. Heshel's successor, Rabbi Leib Fischeles, whose daughter he married. Samuel officiated as rabbi in Shydlow, Poland, whence he was called in September 1691 to the rabbinate of Fürth, Germany. The reason is not known; but he longed for his former rabbinate and returned to his former position in 1694. Samuel wrote a clear and comprehensive commentary, known as "Beit Shmuel", on the Shulhan Arukh Even ha'Ezer, which appeared in Dyhernfurth in 1689. However, being that he did not have with whom to discuss his work while he was first writing it, he later thoroughly revised it while serving as Rabbi in in Fürth, where he had the opportunity to collaborate with other scholars, and released a second edition in 1694. He wrote also several responsa and opinions, one of which is published in Ḥinnukh Bet Yehudah, No. 131. His daughter married R. Aaron Hart, the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom.
One of the greatest sages and Halakhic authorities of Salonika in the 16th century. A student of R. Levi ben Haviv (Ralbach) and Rabbi Yosef Taitacz, he served as rabbi in many communities in Turkey, and the Talmudic academy he headed produced many great scholars, among them R. Avraham di Boton (author of 'Lechem Mishneh') and R. Menachem Di Lunzano. He received Halachic inquiries from Italy and the entire Balkan region, and nearly one thousand of his responsa were printed by his son as "Responsa of Maharashdam." His sermons were published under the name "Ben Shmuel", and he also wrote novellae on the Talmud, which have never been printed.
16th century Rosh Yeshiva and Kabbalist in Safed, disciple of the Arizal and R' Hayyim Vital. He established a large Yeshiva in Safed which promoted the study of Halacha and Kabbalah. His most famous work is "Midrash Shmuel" on Pirkei Avot, which contains an anthology of other commentaries along with his own insights. He also wrote commentaries on the Megillot: "Iggeret Shmuel" on Ruth, and "Lechem Dimah" on Eichah. His commentary on Esther has been recently published.
Rabbi Saul (Shaul) Lieberman was a prominent 20th-century rabbi and talmudic scholar. He served as Professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) for over 40 years, and also served as dean of the Harry Fischel Institute in Israel and president of the American Academy for Jewish Research. Among his many works, he is most prominently known for his publication of an edition of the text of Tosefta, along with extensive commentary.
Ovadiah ben Ya'akov Seforno was an Italian rabbi, Biblical commentator, philosopher, halachic authority, and physician who wrote commentaries on a good portion of the Tanach. After an early period of wandering, he settled in Bologna, where he founded a yeshiva. Sforno was held in high regard by his contemporaries, Maharam Padua and Maharik Kolon and is also quoted in responsa of contemporary authorities who consulted him on issues of Halacha. Seforno was admired for his wide knowledge by Henry II, King of France, to whom he sent a Latin translation he prepared of his philosophical work, Or Amim.
Shabbatai Hakohen – better known as Shach, after the acronym of his most famous work – was a Lithuanian/Polish rabbi, halachic scholar and Talmudic commentator. He was raised in Vilna, and studied in Tykotzin, Cracow and Lublin. He returned to Vilna, where he married the daughter of the wealthy great-grandson of the Rema, and served in the beit din of R. Yehuda Lima. In 1655, he, along with the entire Jewish community, fled from the advancing Swedish army. He eventually became rav of Holešov. His grave there remains a pilgrimage site to this day. His great work, Siftei Kohen, is one of the most important commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch. His rulings were widely accepted by Ashkenazic Jewry as authoritative. He also wrote critical comments on the Turei Zahav of R. David ben Shmuel Halevi, his older contemporary whom he honored greatly but to whom he did not defer.
Shabbetai Bass was a Polish printer, publisher, bibliographer and author of Siftei Chakhamim, the most widely used supercommentary on Rashi's commentary to the Chumash and Megillot. His surname stems from his position as bass singer in the choir of the Altneuschul of Prague, where he went to learn Torah after his parent's martyrdom. He settled in Amsterdam in 1679 after extensive travels, where he learned the printer's craft. He subsequently settled in Breslau where he set up a successful publishing/printing establishment. He was a ground-breaking bibliographer whose classification system was unprecedented at his time. In his old-age, he was falsely charged with printing works considered blasphemous by Christian authorities. As a result, he had to spend time in prison before eventually getting acquitted. His last years were devoted to revising his bibliographical work, but he died before he could complete the revision.
Samuel David Luzzatto, also known as the Shadal, was an Italian scholar, poet, philosopher and Biblical commentator. With the help of Rabbi Isaac Samuel Reggio, he was appointed a professor at the rabbinical college of Padua, where he taught Bible, philology, philosophy, and Jewish history until his death. Though religiously observant and a defender of tradition, he applied critical scholarship to his Hebrew commentary of the Torah. He was a prolific writer, contributing to Hebrew and Jewish journals, and corresponding in Hebrew, Italian, French and German with the major rabbis and scholars of his day. Some of this correspondence was later collected by his son and published as Iggerot Shadal.
A student of Rashba, he leaned more towards the side of Kabbalah and even wrote a super-commentary on the mystical elements of Ramban's commentary on the Torah. He also wrote the Migdal Oz commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah.
Prime disciple of Rashi, who assisted his teacher in composing his monumental commentary on the Bible and Talmud. On the title page of Rabbeinu Shemaiah's commentary to Tractate Midot it states that it was composed in his teacher's presence. His daughter was married to Rashi's grandson, Rashbam.
Sherira Gaon bar Hanina was a scholar and the penultimate member of the Geonim. He descended on both sides from prominent families, counting among his ancestors Rabba ben Abuha of the family of the exilarch, as well as several Geonim. He served as av beit din of Pumbedita before being elected as head of the academy, where he served for 30 years before appointing his son, Hai Gaon, in his place. In response to the challenges of the Karaites he wrote a famous iggeret (epistle) providing the first comprehensive explication of the development of Oral law. Though including historical records already contained in the Talmud, the Iggeret relies mainly on the written and oral records of the Babylonian academies, providing almost the only source for the history of the chain of tradition for almost 500 years.
Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, known as Rav Shagar for his acronym, was a Torah scholar and a religious postmodern thinker in the 20th and 21st centuries. His teachings draw upon chasidic teachings, the work of early Religious Zionist thinkers - particulary that of Rav Kook - and contemporary philosophy, with an eye toward deepening personal religious experience. In 1996 he established, together with Rabbi Yair Dreifuss, Yeshivat Siach Yitzchak, where he served as head of the yeshiva until his death.
Simeon Kara was a French rabbi who lived in Mans in the 11th century; brother of Menahem ben Ḥelbo and father of Joseph He is counted among the prominent French rabbis, although no work of his has survived.
Simeon ben Zemah Duran, (Hebrew: שמעון בן צמח דוראן), known as Rashbaz (רשב"ץ) or Tashbaz was a Rabbinical authority, student of philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and especially of medicine, which he practised for a number of years at Palma de Majorca. He was a near relation but not a grandson of Levi ben Gershon, a student of Ephraim Vidal, and of Jonah de Maestre, rabbi in Zaragoza or in Calatayud, whose daughter Bongoda he married. After the persecution of 1391, he fled Spain with his father and sister, for Algiers, where, in addition to practicing medicine, he continued his studies. In 1394 he and the Algerian rabbi, Isaac ben Sheshet (known as Rivash) drafted statutes for the Jewish community of Algiers. After the Rivash's retirement, Duran became rabbi of Algiers in 1407. He held this office until his death whereupon his son Solomon ben Simon Duran succeeded him.
Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, popularly know as Kli Yakar after his homiletic commentary on the Torah, was a Polish rabbi who served as chief rabbi of Prague after the Maharal. He was famed as a gifted preacher whose derashot, or sermons, would captivate his many listeners. His writings focus on ethical matters, and his collected homiletical interpretations of Torah passages, Kli Yakar, remains one of the most popular works of its kind.
Shlomo ben Joseph Ganzfried was the rabbi of Brezevitz for many years before returning to his hometown of Ungvar (Austrian Empire/Ukraine) to serve as a judge on the rabbinical court. In his role as community leader, Ganzfried came to believe that every Jew needed to know and understand Jewish law if Orthodoxy was to survive. To that end he composed the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which was published both in Hebrew and in Yiddish and quickly became popular.
Dedicated to Torah study from his youth, he became one of the period's greatest experts in halacha. He was one of the main editors of the Vilna edition of the Talmud and eventually became the rabbi of Vilna. Though he was more focused on study than communal affairs, he was an ardent supporter of the new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
16th century Kabbalist and composer of the "Lecha Dodi" hymn recited on Shabbat eve. Born in Salonica, he studied under the great mysticist, R' Yosef Taitatzak. He emigrated to Israel in 1535 and settled in Safed, where he taught Kabbala to a distinguished group, among them R' Moshe Alshikh and R' Yosef Karo, as well as his famous brother-in-law R' Moshe Cordovero. He is the author of "Manot HaLevi" on Megillat Esther, as well as many other works.
Born into a Polish rabbinic family and noted as a child prodigy, he made his way to the chassidic court of Rabbi Meir of Apta. Connecting to several other chassidic figures along the way, he eventually established his own hassidic court in Radamsk, in the context of which he was able to use his great talents, both as a communal leader and as a hassidic rebbe.
Solomon ben Judah Aaron Kluger (שלמה קלוגר), born at Komarow, Congress Poland, was chief dayyan and preacher of Brody, Galicia. He was successively Rabbi at Rava-Ruska (Galicia), Kulikow (Galicia), and Józefów (Lublin), preacher at Brody, and Rabbi at Brezany (Galicia) and, again, at Brody (where he held the offices of Dayan and preacher for more than fifty years). During his long life Rabbi Kluger wrote a great number of works, totally one hundred and sixty volumes. He wrote on all the branches of rabbinical literature as well as on Biblical and Talmudic exegesis.
Solomon ben Simon Duran (Rashbash) (שלמה בן שמעון דוראן), was born in Algiers and was the son and successor of Simon ben Zemah Duran. Known for his prodigious Talmudic knowledge, he was the author of many responsa and polemics, including one against the Kabbalah. His defence of the Talmud from attacks by the Christian convert Geronimo de Santa Fé in 1437 was published under the title Milḥemet Ḥovah, and Setirat Emunat ha-Noẓerim, after the second part of his father's Ḳeshet u-Magen. His treatise Tikkun Soferim, which has frequently been ascribed to his father, is printed as an appendix to the work Yavin Shemu'ah. A letter he wrote to Nathan Najara as well as a dirge have been preserved in manuscript.
Shmuel Safrai (1919-2003) was Professor Emeritus of History of the Jewish People at Hebrew University. He received the Jerusalem Prize in 1986 and the Israel Prize for Land of Israel studies in 2002. Among his many published works is Mishnat Eretz Yisrael, a socio-historical commentary on the Mishnah that he compiled together with his son, Professor Ze’ev Safrai, and daughter, Dr. Chana Safrai.
An independent scholar and community activist, he was an important member of the Vilna community in his time. His prosperous business activities allowed him to devote himself to the poor and spend much of his time in the study of the Talmud. His notations are found in the back of the classic editions of the Babylonian Talmud used today.
Shneur Zalman of Liady was the founder of Chabad (Lubavitch) Chassidut, also known as the "Alter Rebbe" or "Baal HaTanya. He was a leading disciple of the Maggid of Mezeritch, who sent him to Lithuania to spread Chassidut and assigned him the task of composing an updated Shulchan Aruch which reflected the many new decisions that had been rendered since the original work by R' Joseph Karo had been published some two hundred years earlier. This highly respected work, known as "Shulchan Aruch HaRav", is considered the primary code of law for Chabad Chasidim as well as many other Chasidic groups. His best-known work is the vastly influential Likkutei Amarim, better known as the "Tanya", a systematic presentation of Chasidic philosophy, considered to be a core Chasidic text. His other works on Chassidut, all of which draw heavily on Kabbalah, are "Torah Ohr", "Likutei Torah", "Sefer HaMaamarim", and a commentary on daily prayers. He also composed some popular melodies. At the height of the dispute between Chassidim and Mitnagdim, he was falsely accused of fomenting rebellion against the Czar and imprisoned as a result. His release from prison is celebrated by Chabad Chassidim to this day. He was succeeded as Rebbe by his son, R. Dov Baer, known as "The Mitteler (Middle) Rebbe".
Disciple of Rashi and author of the Halakhic and liturgical compendium 'Machzor Vitry'. His son married the daughter of Rashi's son-in-law R' Meir ben Shmuel, and their son was the famed Tosafist R' Yitzchak of Dampierre (Ri HaZaken).
Yemenite scholar and rabbi in Hebron, most famous for his extensive commentary on the Mishnah, "Melechet Shlomo", which took 30 years to complete. He was born in Yemen and moved together with his family to the Holy Land as a young boy. After settling in Jerusalem, he became a student of R' Betzalel Ashkenazi and R' Chayyim Vital. He suffered from abject poverty and many other challenges, as described in the introduction to his work, but these tribulations did not prevent him from total devotion to Torah study. He eventually moved to Hebron, where he wrote his monumental commentary.
Solomon (or Salomon) Buber was a scholar and editor of Hebrew works, particularly known for his original research and prolific explication of midrashic literature. He wrote elaborate and exhaustive commentaries of midrashic works including Pesikhta de-Rab Kahana, Midrash Abkir, Midrash Tanchuma, Midrash Tehillim, Midrash Shmuel and Midrash Mishle. He was also the primary teacher of his grandson, Martin Buber, who lived with him from the age of three.
11-12th century Biblical commentator and liturgist, lived in Kastoria, Greece. His major work is 'Midrash Lekach Tov', a commentary on the Torah and Megilot which is based heavily on Midrashic sources and is cited by many early Rishonim. He also wrote liturgical hymns, some of which are still extant.
The Tosafists - Ba'alei HaTosafot - were members of a school of Torah and Talmudic interpretation which flourished in 12th and 13th century France and Germany. Their roots are in the work of Rashi – in fact Rashi's sons-in-law and grandsons are counted amongst the founders and most influential members of the school of Tosafot. Their comments on almost every tractate of the Talmud were collected, edited, augmented and passed on for generations, with certain collections gaining more prominence (depending on tractate and locale). Their approach is analytical, comparative and incisive, and many times takes a critical stance regarding Rashi's commentary. They were amongst the first French and German rabbis to quote extensively the Jerusalem Talmud and the Talmud commentary of Rabbenu Chananel (of North Africa). Other works also emerged from their school, most notably Machzor Vitri and the Torah commentary, Da'at Z'kenim.
Famed master of Chassidic thought and prolific author in all areas of Judaism: Halakhah, Hasidut, Kabbalah, and ethics. He also wrote scholarly essays on astronomy, geometry, and algebra. R' Tzadok, born into a rabbinic family affiliated with the Mitnagdim, was introduced to Chassidut when he met with R' Mordechai Leiner of Izhbitz and became his disciple. After the Izhbitzer's death he became a follower of R' Yehuda Leib Eiger of Lublin, and eventually his successor as Rebbe of Lublin. He authored "Pri Tzadik" on the Torah, "Tzidkat HaTzadik", "Resisei Layla", and many other works on various topics.
Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech, founder of the Dinov Chassidic dynasty and prolific writer, is known by the title of his primary work "Bnei Yissaschar", a classic Chasidic text containing discourses on the Torah and Festivals. He also authored numerous other works on various subjects. His father, R' Pesach, was a brother-in-law of R' Elimelech of Lizhensk, after whom he was named, and his mother was a descendant of R' Shimshon Ostropolier. He was a disciple of the Chozeh of Lublin, the Maggid of Kozhnitz, and Rabbi Mendel of Rimanov. He occupied rabbinical posts in Dinov, Struzov, Ribitsch, Lantzut, and Munkacsz.
Rabbi of Utena, Lithuania, and author of "Pitchei Teshuva" on Shulchan Arukh, which is a collection of references to responsa works. He also wrote a comprehensive commentary to R' Michel of Crakow's "Seder Gittin V'Chalitza".
Vidal of Tolosa was a French rabbi and halachic author. Very little is known about the details of his life. He is better known as the Maggid Mishneh, after his great work, a comprehensive commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah. Unfortunately, only a part of this work has been preserved and passed on. In the sections that remain, he seeks sources for the Rambam's rulings and defends him against criticisms such as those of the Ra'avad.
Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, also known as the Vilna Gaon, was a Talmudist and the greatest Torah authority of his generation. He had a photographic memory; according to legend he memorized the Pentateuch by the age of three. By the age of 20 he was already resolving complicated legal issues that confounded other rabbis. He wrote copious commentaries on virtually all Jewish texts, including corrective notes on the Talmud. He also authored books on grammar and mathematics and encouraged his students to learn the secular sciences. He may be best remembered as one of the leaders of the "Misnagdim," the opponents of the newly emergent Hasidic movement. He declared that the Hasidic belief in miracles and visions were lies and delusions. In response, he advocated a more rational approach to Torah observance that emphasized the traditional obligations of Torah study and fulfillment of the commandments.
Sephardi rabbi and kabbalist, author of the multi-volume "Kaf HaChaim" on Shulchan Arukh. Born in Bagdhad in 1870, he moved to Israel in 1904 and settled in Jerusalem, where he studied in the famed Kabbalistic academy 'Bet- El'.
Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky was a rabbi and educator in the mid-19th and turn of the 20th centuries. He served as a rabbi of several communities in Lithuania and Belarus and founded a yeshiva in Slutsk, Belarus, before emigrating to the United States, where he was elected elder rabbi by the United Orthodox Rabbis of America. Toward the end of his life, he emigrated to Israel, establishing a yeshiva in Safed. He is known for two central commentaries that he composed on the Jerusalem Talmud, Chiddushei Ridvaz and Tosfot Rid.
Yaakov Emden was a German rabbi, Talmudist and polemicist, son of the Chacham Tzvi. He is most well-known for his publicly promoted and literarily defended campaign against Rabbi Yonatan Eibeschutz, who he accused of being a hidden Sabbatean. He published many works, amongst which is a highly regarded and republished siddur with extensive commentary, and a collection of responsa titled "She'ilat Ya'avetz", as well as annotations on the Talmud and other works.
Jacob Ettlinger (Hebrew: יעקב עטלינגר) was a German rabbi and author, and one of the leaders of Orthodox Judaism. He is sometimes referred to as the Aruch la-Ner (ערוך לנר) because of his noteworthy Talmudic commentary by that same name. He was born at Karlsruhe, Baden, and died at Altona, Prussia. He studied with his father Aaron and Abraham Bing, where he also attended the university. He was among the earliest German rabbis who possessed academic training. He became one of the most prominent representatives of German Orthodoxy, functioning as district rabbi in various communities in Germany. His yeshiva was attended by a great many students preparing for the ministry, and many of them became leaders of Orthodoxy.
Son of the Mei HaShiloach, he succeeded his father as Rebbe in Ibiza, later moving to Radzin, where his oldest son and successor, Gershon Henoch, was already serving as Rav. A collection of his teachings was compiled by his son and published in a book entitled "Beit Yaakov".
Leading 14-15th century Halakhic authority, best known for his codification of the customs of German Jewry. Son and pupil of Moshe Levi Moelin, he succeeded his father as Rabbi of Mainz in 1387. "Minhagei Maharil", a compilation of German customs and synagogue rites was written by his student R' Zalman, and is frequently quoted in Rama's glosses to Shulchan Aruch. Another pupil, Eleazer b. Jacob, collected some of Moelin's responsa; these were published in Venice in 1549. Many more of Moelin's responsa which remained in manuscript were recently collected and published under the title "SHu"T Maharil HeChadashot".
Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum was a Polish rabbi, Talmudist and posek. His best-known works, Chavot Da'at on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah and Netivot Mishpat on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, have had a formative impact on classic Torah study to the present day. He was a great-grandson of the Chacham Tzvi.
Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg was a 19th century German rabbi and Torah scholar. As a child he studied with the local rabbi, Zechariah Mendel, a friend of R. Akiva Eger. R. Mecklenberg was a businessman until the age of 46, when he was offered and accepted the position of rabbi in Konigsberg, East Prussia. The Jews of Konigsberg were being influenced by the Haskalah, which he strongly opposed. His Torah commentary which he wrote at this time, Haketav Vehakabbalah, attempted to refute the reformers by demonstrating the close connections between Rabbinic law and Biblical text. Together with the Malbim, he publicly denounced the Reform Judaism's 1844 Braunschweig convention. He continued to serve as Rabbi of Konigsberg for 34 years, until his death.
Jacob Weil, later known as Mahariv (Hebrew: יעקב בן יהודה ווייל) was a German rabbi and Talmudist who flourished during the first half of the fifteenth century. He was one of the foremost pupils of Jacob Moelin (Maharil), who ordained him in the rabbinate, and authorized him to officiate in Nuremberg. Weil, however, did not avail himself of this permission lest he should offend an older scholar, Solomon Cohen, who had been appointed rabbi of that city long before. Weil was later called to the rabbinate of Erfurt; and congregations far and near, recognizing him as an authority, addressed their problems to him. Of Weil's works only a collection of opinions and decisions, "She'elot u-Teshubot", has been preserved. To this work was added an appendix entitled "Sheḥiṭot u-Bediḳot," containing regulations for slaughtering and for the examination of slaughtered cattle. These rules have been regarded as authoritative by later rabbis, have run through seventy-one editions, and the responsa have been the subjects of various commentaries and additions.
20th century rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in Baltimore, Maryland. He was born in Daŭhinava, in the Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), where his father, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ruderman, was the rabbi. He studied in Yeshivat Knesset Yisrael in Slabodka, under Rabbi Nathan Tzvi Finkel (the "Alter"), and the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, receiving semicha from the latter in 1926. In 1933, he moved to Baltimore, where he was immediately offered a rabbinical post. He accepted the position on the condition that he be permitted to open a yeshiva using the synagogue facilities; he named the new yeshiva Ner Yisroel, ('Light of Israel'). He wrote "Avodat Levi," which was published in his lifetime. An additional two volumes of his teachings were compiled and published posthumously by his students: ethical insights based on the weekly parsha named "Sichot Levi", and lectures on the 19th century work Minchat Chinukh and other Talmudic and halachic insights in "Mas'at Levi".
Yair Hayyim Bacharach was the great-grandson of the Maharal and major 17th century posek, who lived first in Koblenz and then remainder of his life in Worms and Metz. He wrote two major works חות יאיר (Villages of Yair); a collection of responsa by the title of which he is commonly referred. His other main work was מקור חיים (Source of Life); a commentary on the Shulhan Arukh. However, when he discovered that other commentaries, notably the Taz and the Magen Avraham had appeared, he withdrew his book and it was only published in 1982. Besides his Halakhic expertise he had complete mastery of all the sciences, music, history and poetry. He compiled a 46 volume encyclopaedia on many topics.
Yannai was a paytan (liturgical poet) of the Byzantine empire, who may have lived in Eretz Yisrael. He is considered one of the three greatest early paytanim, along with Yose ben Yose and Eleazar Hakalir. He was the first to use rhyme and introduced the convention of alluding to his name in acrostics. He was evidently a very prolific poet, though much of his work has been lost. A manuscript of his poems was discovered in the Cairo geniza and published in 1938.
Rabbi Yechezkel Panet was a leading rabbi in 19th-century Romania and founder of the Dayzh chasidic dynasty. Born in the town of Bielsko-Biała, Poland in 1783, he studied in Leipnik under Rabbi Boruch Frankel Thumim, in Prague under Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fishel, Rabbi Shmuel Landau, and Rabbi Elazar Fleklis, as well as in Linsk under Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rabin. He also studied with the Vilna Gaon and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, who became his chief teacher.
Rabbi Yechiel Heilprin was a Lithuanian rabbi, kabbalist, and chronicler. He was rabbi of Glusk until 1711, when he was called to the rabbinate of Minsk. There, he all officiated as head of the yeshiva until his death. Heilprin is especially known for his Seder HaDorot, a comprehensive historical and biographical chronicle of the Jewish people.
Yechiel Michel Epstein, also known as "the Aruch HaShulchan" after his great halachic work by that name, was a posek and the rabbi of Nevarodok, where he served for 34 years. He was married to the sister of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (Netziv). He was known for his charitable works, particularly for his support of the Rebbi Meir Baal HaNeis charity fund which funded the Jews of Eretz Yisrael.
16th century Italian scholar, author of a Masoretic commentary on the Bible. It was originally titled "Goder Paretz" by the author, but was published posthumously under the name "Minchat Shai" to commemorate the author's name. (The Hebrew letters שי are the initials of שלמה ידידיה)
Yedidiah Tiah Weil was one of the leading scholars in the second half of the eighteenth century in Central Europe. He came from a line of rabbinic personalities going back to the 13th century Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg. He received his early instruction from his father Netanel, the famed author of Korban Netan'el. In 1744 he married Gitel, daughter of Jacob Eger, a well-to-do resident of Prague. The expulsion of the Jews from Prague led him to Metz in 1745, where he remained until 1748, continuing his studies under Jonathan Eybeschütz. In 1770 he succeeded his father as rabbi of Carlsruhe. His will shows him to have been a man of great piety who was particularly knowledgeable in Kabbalah. He authored many works, only one of which he printed: "HaMarbeh L'Sapeir", a commentary on the Passover Haggadah. Wishing to conceal his identity as the author, he published it anonymously and even wrote an approbation to it to give the impression that it was written by someone else. Other works of his have been published in recent years.
Yehezkel ben Yehuda Landau was a senior figure in Prague Jewry. He is best known for the his responsa Noda BiYehudah (נודע ביהודה) and for his attempt to mediate between the disruptive fight between Jacob Emden and Jonathan Eybeschütz. Born in Poland Landau attended yeshivot in Ludmir and Brody where he was appointed Dayan. Later he moved to Prague where he was appointed chief rabbi and established a Yeshivah. Landau was highly esteemed not just by the community, but also by others; and he stood in high favour in government circles. Thus, in addition to his rabbinical tasks, he was able to intercede with the government on various occasions when anti-Semitic measures had been introduced. Though not opposed to secular knowledge, he objected to "that culture which came from Berlin", in particular Moses Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch. He authored responsa Noda Biyhuda (named in honor of his father, Yehuda), and a commentary on Talmud entitled "Tzion L'Nefesh Chaya" (named in honor of his mother, Chaya), or "Tzelach" for short.
Rav Yehoshua Buch lives in Israel and works for Makhon Orot HaYerushalmi, an institution dedicated to researching the Jerusalem Talmud and reviving the study of “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” or Torah that is unique to the Land of Israel.
After studying at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem, he went on to teach at various institutions of learning in Israel, while writing his voluminous commentary on the works of Maharal. He later moved to London, where he is the director of the beit midrash at the Hasmonean High School.
A rabbi and businessman close to the Russian court, he was able to spend much of his time involved in his rabbinic studies and in philantrophy. He supported a cadre of outstanding scholars in his magnificent beit midrash.
Yehuda Halevi was a Spanish poet and philosopher. He is considered to this day to be one of the greatest Hebrew poets of all time, and his liturgical poetry appears in several prayer rites. He had a comprehensive education, including both secular and Torah subjects. Many are of the opinion that he was a direct student of the Rif. He also served as court physician to the king of Castile, and due to an enthusiastic patron, was well-received in wide circles. He was especially close to the Ibn Ezra, who quotes him a number of times in his commentaries. His philosophical work, the Kuzari, is one of the great masterpieces of Jewish philosophy. He felt a particularly strong yearning for the Land of Israel towards the end of his life, leading him to travel first to Egypt where he stayed for a bit and then to board a boat to Israel. Although legend attributes his demise to the hooves of a military mount in Jerusalem, there is no conclusive contemporary evidence as to what befell him and whether he actually reached the Land of Israel.
Halakhic authority affiliated with the National Religious community, author of the Responsa Bnei Banim. He is a grandson of the preeminent 20th century Halakhic authority in America, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin.
Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (the Sefat Emet) was a Polish rabbi, Chassidic master, and rebbe of the Gerer Chassidim. His father died while he was still a boy and he was raised by his grandfather, the Chiddushei HaRim. He also served as head of the town's beit din. Upon his grandfather's passing in 1866, he refused to fill his position, instead choosing to submit himself to the leadership of R' Chanoch Henoch of Alexander. When the Rebbe of Alexander passed away in 1870, he reluctantly accepted the leadership of the Gerrer chassidim. Under his leadership, Ger became the largest and most influential Chassidic court in Poland. His many works were all posthumously called Sefat Emet, and they include a magisterial collection of chassidic insight and teachings based on the weekly Torah portion, as well as a scholarly commentary on Talmud. These works are widely studied throughout the Jewish world to this day. Unlike many Chassidic masters, he refused to accept money willingly given by his followers, and supported himself from a small store run by his wife. Although he encouraged the building and settling of the Holy Land, he was an opponent of the nascent Zionist movement. He died in 1905 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Avraham Mordechai (Imrei Emet).
Yehudah Leib Halevi Ashlag, also known as the Baal HaSulam, was a rabbi and kabbalist. He was born In Lodz to a scholarly family connected to the Hasidic courts of Porisov and Belz. He made aliyah in 1921 and was subsequently appointed rabbi of Givat Shaul, Jerusalem. He is best known for his work "Talmud Eser Sefirot", a commentary and re-editing of the work of Isaac Luria, as well as "HaSulam", a commentary on the Zohar.
Yehudah Yudel Rosenberg, also known as Rav Yudel Tarlow'er after the town of Tarlow where he served as rabbi, was born into a rabbinical family that claimed descent from Yehuda HeHasid. In addition to a thorough traditional education, he learned Hebrew literature and encouraged it's revival. In 1913 he emigrated to Toronto, where he became the rabbi of the Beth Jacob congregation. He was a prolific author, perhaps best known for his translation of the Zohar into Hebrew, as well as his book about the Maharal and the Golem of Prague.
Yehudah ben Shimon Ashkenazi was born in Frankfort and served as a dayan on the rabbinical court in Tykocin, Poland. He is best known as the author of a portion of the Ba'er Heitev, a major commentary on the Shulchan Aruch.
Polish author, famed for his exhaustive 3 volume commentary on the Sefer HaMitzvot of R' Saadia Gaon. He was born in Warsaw and studied under R' Yehoshua Leib Diskin in Lomza, The Netziv in Volozhin, and R' Chaim Soloveitchik in Brisk. Upon the loss of his wife in 1926, he moved to the Holy land and settled in Jerusalem. He also wrote "Chibat Tziyon", a commentary on Kaftor V'Ferach, as well as annotations to many other works.
Chief Rabbi of Sana'a, Yemen in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, known for his work "Milchamot Hashem" which questions the authenticity and origin of the Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah in general. He founded the 'Dor Deah' movement in Yemen, with the aim of combatting the influence of the Zohar and modern Kabbalah which were then pervasive in Yemenite Jewish life, and to restore what he believed to be a rational approach to Judaism rooted in authentic sources, including the Talmud, Saadia Gaon and especially Maimonides
Yirachmiel Yisrael Danziger was the second Rebbe of the Alexander Chassidic dynasty in Poland. His work, Yismach Yisrael, focuses on practical piety and is widely studied in other Chassidic circles as well. He emphasized ecstatic prayer in worship.
Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal was born in Hungary in 1885 from a family of well-known rabbis and Jewish leaders. In 1921 Teichtal became the head of the rabbinic court and Rabbi of Piešťany, Czechoslovakia (present-day Slovakia), where he established the Moriah yeshiva. Originally a staunch anti-Zionist chasid of the Munkatsher Rebbe, Teichtal changed his position on Zionism during the Holocaust. He described his new viewpoints in his book, Em HaBanim Semecha, in which he argued that only rebuilding the land of Israel could bring the ultimate redemption. Teichtal was murdered on a transport train during the closing days of World War II.
Rabbi Yisrael Eisenstein was a 19th-century scholar of Jewish law and chasidut, who served as rabbi in the cities of Bogopol and Nikolaev in present-day Ukraine. He wrote a collection of responsa entitled Amudei Esh, which was published posthumously together with some of his commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud entitled Amudei Yerushalayim. His other works, including a commentary on the Book of Joshua, remain in manuscript form.
Israel Bruna (ישראל ברונא) was a German rabbi and Posek. He is also known as Mahari Bruna, the Hebrew acronym for "Our Teacher, the Rabbi, Israel Bruna". He studied under the leading Ashkenazi rabbis of his time: Jacob Weil and Israel Isserlin, who ordained him and spoke very highly of him. He was then elected rabbi of Brno. After the expulsion of the Jews from that city (1454) he settled at Ratisbon, Bavaria, where he opened a yeshivah. His position in Ratisbon caused some controversy, dividing the community. Rabbi Anschel Segal, who already was operating a yeshivah there, felt Rabbi Bruna should have opened his yeshivah elsewhere. However, upon the death of Rabbi Segal he was accepted by the whole community. Rabbi Bruna was one of the greatest Talmudic authorities of his time: rabbis and scholars from various cities and countries sent him their queries on all matters relating to Jewish law. These responsa, Teshuvot Mahari Bruna, are his best known work. Importantly, they served as a source of Halakha for Moses Isserles' HaMapah - the gloss on the Shulkhan Arukh describing differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi practice.
One of the youngest of the disciples of the Vilna Goan, he moved to Palestine, where he first became rabbi of Safed and then Jerusalem. He nevertheless traveled to Europe as an emissary for the Jews living in Palestine.
Son of Rabbi Alexander Sender, who was the founder of the Komarna dynasty. Orphaned at a young age, Yitzchak Aizik was raised by his uncle, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh of Zhidichoiv. He authored many important Chassidic and Kabbalistic works, frequently quoting the Baal Shem Tov, of whom he considered himself a disciple although he was born after the latter's death. Among his better-known works are "Heichal HaBeracha" on Torah, "Zohar Chai" on the Zohar, and "Shulchan HaTahor" on Shulchan Aruch. A diary in which he recorded supernatural visions he experienced, the existence of which was originally known only to select individuals, has recently been published from manuscripts under the title "Megilat Setarim."
A very close student of Rabbi Isaac Nunis-Belmonte, he published many of his teacher's works posthumously. Eventually he became one of the main rabbis of Izmir and published his own commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah, as well as other works.
Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter, also known by his acronym as "The Rim," was the first rebbe of the Ger Hasidic dynasty. He was a Talmudic genius from a distinguished line of German and Polish rabbis that included Rashi and Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg. His hasidut was influenced by the Koznitzer Maggid, Reb Simcha Bunim of Prshischa and the Kotzker Rebbe, of whom he was a disciple. He established his own dynasty in the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria, or "Ger," in Yiddish. He is known for his work Chiddushei HaRim on Talmud and Shulchan Arukh. A collection of his insights on Chumash, "Chidushei HaRim al HaTorah", was recently published by a descendant.
Rav Yitzchak Nissim (1896-1981) was the second chief rabbi of the state of Israel, serving between 1955 and 1972. Born in Baghdad, Rav Nissim immigrated to Israel in 1925. He worked as a businessman alongside his rabbinic studies, and published responsa throughout his life. After his death, his son, Professor Meir Benayahu, established Yad HaRav Nissim - an academic publishing house and research institute as well as a beit midrash - in his memory.
He lived in France in the second half of the thirteenth century and was one of the scholars whose collective work was recorded in the Tosafot Sens. He also wrote an important commentary on the Torah called Paaneach Raza.
Born in central Europe, his studies took him west to the great Torah luminaries of the day in France. When he returned, he brought their Tosafist approach back to central Europe, first to Wurzburg and then to Vienna. He is most famous for his legal tract, Ohr Zarua. Among his students was Maharam of Rothenburg.
Yitzhak Yosef was born January 16, 1952 in Jerusalem. The son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, he is the Sephardi Chief Rabbi for the State of Israel (the Rishon Lezion), as well as the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia. He has written many foundational works for Sephardi Jews in Israel and the world, including Yalkut Yosef, a popular compendium of Jewish Law.
Rabbi Yitzchak ben Mordekhai Gershon was a 12th century German Tosafist. He studied in Regensburg under Rabbeinu Tam and Rabbן Yitzchak ben Asher Halevi (Riva), and later served as the head of the city's bet din. He compiled tosafot to most tractates of the Talmud.
Yoel Sirkes was a Polish rabbi, halachic scholar and Talmudic annotator. His best-known work, Bait Chadash, is one of the basic commentaries (together with R Yosef Karo's Beit Yosef) on R. Yaakov ben Asher's halachic code, the Arba'ah Turim. Hagahot Habach are his indispensable glosses on the text of the Talmud. The Taz was his son-in-law.
Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller was a Bohemian rabbi and talmudist. His best-known work, Tosafot Yom Tov, is one of the basic commentaries on the Mishnah. He also wrote Ma'adanei Yom Tov, an important commentary on Piskei HaRosh of Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel. He studied under the Maharal of Prague, and served as Chief Rabbi of Vienna and Prague. Many prominent rabbis of subsequent generations are his descendants.
Yonah ben Yisrael Babad was a German rabbi and posek. He lived in Regensburg during the 15th-16th centuries and was closely associated with Rabbi Yisrael Isserlein (Maharai). The influential work on Kashrut, Issur v'Heter HaAruch, has been attributed to him since the 17th century.
12th century French Tosafist and author of a commentary on the Torah and Psalms, as well as a number of liturgical poems. Joseph, a student of Rabbeinu Tam, was also called "Bekhor Shor" — an allusion to Moses' blessing to Joseph in Deut. (33,17).
Yosef Giqatillah was a Spanish rabbi and Kabbalist. He was a student of Rabbi Avraham Abulafia and, like his teacher, focused on mystical combinations of letters, numbers and divine names. Unlike his teacher, he tried to reconcile philosophy, of which he was quite knowledgeable, with Kabbalah. His work Sha'arei Orah, a dictionary of the kabbalistic symbolism of the sefirot, was considered a fundamental and even indispensable work by later sages.
Yosef Hayyim, also known as the Ben-Ish Chai, was the Chacham (rabbinic leader) of the Jewish community of Baghdad for over 50 years. He was a prominent authority on halacha and a master kabbalist. His work based on his classes on the weekly Torah reading, the Ben Ish Chai, contain both kabbalistic insights into the Torah portion as well as practical laws for everyday life. He also composed "Ben Yehoyada", a commentary on the Aggadic portions of the Talmud, and responsa entitled "Rav Pe'alim".
He followed the expulsion from Spain and became one of Egypt's leading rabbis, writing one of the most important commentaries on Rambam's Mishneh Torah. He spent the last years of his life in Jerusalem.
19th century Polish rabbi, prolific author, posek, and a leading rabbinical authority of his day. Elected rabbi of Lemberg, he officiated for eighteen years and was a widely recognised rabbinical authority. A wealthy man, he did not take a salary from his community and was known for his charitable nature. His most controversial ruling was permitting the use of machinery to bake Matzah for Pesach, which created a widespread halakhic controversy at the time. He authored many works, most notably his responsa "Shoel U'Meishiv". He died childless in 1875.
An important scholar of halacha, he grew up in Safed, but had to leave several times, before leaving Palestine altogether and settling in Constantinople. There, his stature grew and he become the chief rabbi of Turkey. He wrote several commentaries and volumes of responsa.
One of the mussar movement's oustanding personalities, he established the ascetic approach of Novardok. Besides the yeshiva of Norvodak, he established and had a profound influence on many other institutions of learning.
Early 14th century Spanish Kabbalist, student of Joshua ibn Shuib who was a student of Rashba. Author of a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah (which is mistakenly ascribed to Raavad), a commentary on Midrash Rabbah - Genesis, and other works of which only fragments exist.
Ze'ev Safrai (born 1948, Jerusalem) is an Israeli Professor in the Department for Israel Studies in Bar Ilan University, as well as an author, lecturer and researcher of Israel in the Second Temple era. Along with his father, Professor Shmuel Safrai, and sister, Dr. Chana Safra, he helped compile Mishnat Eretz Yisrael, a socio-historical commentary to the Mishnah.
Zechariah Mendel ben Aryeh Leib of Crakow was a Polish rabbi, and author of the Yoreh Deah and Choshen Mishpat sections of "Ba'er Heitev" on Shulchan Aruch, which is an abridgement of the lengthier commentaries. In 1671 he succeeded his father as rabbi of the Bohemian synagogue in Crakow. In 1689 he was appointed as rabbi of the Galician city Belz.
Zedekiah ben Abraham Anav was an Italian rabbi and posek. He studied in Wurzburg, Germany, under students of the great Ba'al Tosafot, R. Shimshon miShantz. Later, he returned to Rome, the city of his birth, and continued his studies under his uncle, R. Yehudah ben Binyamin. In his old age, he studied mystical interpretations of Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim with the famous itinerant kabbalist and mystic, R. Avraham Abulafia. His work, Shibbolei Haleket, was referenced extensively by subsequent poskim.
Zerahiah the Greek was a Jewish ethicist of the Byzantine Empire in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. He is sometimes referred to by his acronymistic name, the "Ra'Za'H." His book Sefer HaYashar, which is often confused with other works by that name, consists of 18 chapters dealing with the ethical principles underlying man's relationship to God.
A child prodigy who developed into a famous scholar and rabbi. Immigrating to Holland at the start of World War I, he eventually made his way to Pittsburgh, PA where he was a community rabbi and a prolific writer. While in Holland, he wrote a groundbreaking book on the status of women in Judaism.
Zvi Hirsch ben Yaakov Ashkenazi (Hebrew: צבי אשכנזי), received instruction from his father, R' Yaakov Zak, and grandfather, R' Efraim HaKohen, and subsequently traveled to Salonica to further his studies. He was ordained by the Rabbinate of Constantinople, who bestowed upon him the honorific Sephardi title "Hakham". His time spent in Greece saw him witness the effects of Shabbati Zevi and consolidated his anti-Shabbatian views. He returned to Moravia, but political upheaval forced him to move first to Altona and then Amsterdam. His time in Amsterdam was fraught with difficulty; much of it spent fighting Sabbatian sympathies. His uncompromising position resulted in major communal instability which forced him to flee the city, first to Emden and then London, where he wielded tremendous influence and was offered the position of Chief Rabbi. He declined, however, and subsequently left London and returned to Emden. An opponent of pilpul, his responsa are held in high esteem for their lucidity and focus. They were published under the title "Responsa of Hakham Tzvi".
Yonatan ben Uziel is considered to have been Hillel’s greatest student. The Talmud describes how his Torah study was so intense that birds flying above him during his studies would burn. He is credited with translating and explaining the Prophets in Aramaic.
He was born and grew up in Toledo. However, due to the inquisition, he first moved to Portugal and then to Turkey. There, he published his masterful commentary on the Torah and raised his nephew, Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Arukh. He eventually went to live in Israel, but it is not clear if he arrived and how and where he died.