The Schorr Family Legend

Last update 13 March 2006

Legend ... what Legend??

My father rarely spoke about his family or antecedents, but one tale he did impart to me - at the time I was inducted into the US Army - was that we were descended from a noted vunder-rebbe called Tevuot Shor (in fact, I remembered the name - indistinctly - as something like Tuvia Schorr), and that this Rebbe prophesied that none of his descendents would die in combat. Dad said that this thought was a comfort to himself and his older brother Joseph (both of whom, he said, had been in heavy combat during WWI) ... and should also sustain me if necessary. I'm sure he was passing on well accepted family tradition, even though - at the time - it meant almost nothing to me.

I have since found occasion to dig deeper into the subject.

First, there were two Tevuot Shors. Both were noted Rabbi's who were known by the title of their most important work.

Next I came across the claim of Lena, daughter of my great grandfather Shimon Schorr, as told to me by her granddaughter Carol (Greene) Unger. Lena said that she (and, presumably, her siblings) was an eighth generation direct descendent of the Tevuot Shor (more or less chronologicaly consistant with 'The Younger', who died in 1737).

With regard to the prophesy - it seems to have worn itself out. During WWII one of Shimon Shor's grandsons was killed in action while fighting with the British Army and more recently, Avi, the son of my cousin Hanna Mintz, was killed fighting with the IDF in the Yom Kippur war.

Finally I should mention that almost everyone with the name Shor (or one of the many variants thereof) has a family tradition claiming descent from one or more of the legendary rabbi's of this outstanding Literary/Rabbinic dynasty.

And that's only part of it ...

R'Alexander Sender (Tevuot) Shor was a direct descendent of 'The Eagle' of the Shor Rabbinic Dynasty R'Naftali Zvi-Hersh Shor, who fathered many children and had many illustrious descendents - including both Tevuot Shors.

R'Naftali himself was the product of illustrious forebears. His father R'Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor was said to have been a descendant of the noted 12th century tosafist Rabbenu Yosef Behor-Shor (for more about Rabbenu Yosef see Profiles) and his mother to have been a descendant of the renouned 11th century Commentator RASHI (for more about RASHI see Profiles) .

Lineage from T'vuot Shor (the younger) to R'Naftali

The following lineage is well documented; most of the links are verifiable by means of records of what is/was inscribed on the gravestones of the individuals mentioned.

  • Alexander Sender Shor (Appx 1660 - 1737) was one of the great scholars of his age. He was known by the title of his major work Tevuot Shor. (For more about Tevuot Shor see Profiles!)

  • Alexander was the son of Efraim Zalman Shor (Appx 1630 - 1674)who was Magid in Lvov, and whose wife was the daughter of R'Alexander Sender Shapira.

  • Efriam was the son of Yehuda Lev Shor (Appx 1610 - 1640) whose wife was the daughter of R'Zvi Lavish.

  • Yehuda was the son of Avraham Shor (b Appx 1590) whose wife was the daughter of R'Gershon B"R Avraham B"R Eliyahu (aka Eliyahu m'Lvov, aka Eliyahu Oringal) Myzlish. He is mentioned with honor in the records of the small synagogue of Lvov; he died and is buried in Lvov.

  • Avraham was the son of Shmuel Shor (Appx 1550 - 1632) who had been rabbi in Turbin and Rosh Mesifta (head of an Academy) in Lvov. He died on 20 Tamuz 5392 and is buried in Lvov.

  • Shmuel was the son of Naftali (Zvi Hersh) Shor, aka R'Hersh Alsacer (Appx 1530 - 1587). R'Naftali was born in Alsace. He became friend and protege of the RAMA and married Rivka, the daughter of R'Yisrael (B"R Shalom) Shachna, ABD Lublin and si"l of the RAMA. (For more about R'Naftali see Profiles)!

Lineage from R'Naftali to Rabbenu Yosef Behor Shor

In 'The Chronicles of the Shor Family', H D Friedberg states that the Shor family begins with Rabbenu Yosef b'Itzhak Behor Shor of Orleans in Northern France ...

Naftali Shor was the son of Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor (Appx 1510 - 1571). He lived in Moravia (Maharin?), Ashkenaz and Alsace in the 16th century. His wife Hannah (see Lineage ... to Rashi, below) was the daughter of Naftali Hertz Treves, Rabbi of Frankfurt am Main. (For more about R'Moshe see Profiles)!

  • Moshe was the son of Haim Shor, aka R'Avraham Haim Shor of Maharin.

  • Haim was the son of Shmuel Shor

  • Shmuel was the son of Avraham Shor , aka R'Avraham ben Shmuel of Posna

  • Avraham was the son of Shmuel Shor , aka R'Shmuel of Posna. R'Shmuel was the fi"l of R'Avraham (son of Yehoshua), head of the Jewish community of Posna

  • There would be from six to eight generations between Shmuel of Posna and R'Avraham Behor Shor.

  • Avraham Behor-Shor is mentioned in a number of tosafot

  • Avraham was the son of Yosef Behor-Shor (b Appx 1140) aka R'Yosef b'Itzhak of Orleans, aka R'Yosef b'Itzhak b'Yosef. R'Yosef was a tosafist, exegete and poet who lived in Orleans in Northern France in the last century of the fifth millenium (1140 -1240); he taught Torah and inspired many students; he is regarded as one of the important and creative commentators on the Pentateuch . (For more about Rabbenu Yosef see Profiles)!

  • Yosef was the son of Itshak of Orleans, aka R'Itzhak b'Yosef who is cited in the Tosafot as father of R'Yosef (aka R'Yosef Behor Shor) of Orleans

  • Itzhak was the son of Yosef m'Chinon, aka R'Yosef b'Itzhak who is cited in the Tosphot as father of R'Itzhak of Orleans, the father of R'Yosef Behor Shor

  • R'Yosef m'Chinion claimed to be of the tribe of Yosef, and a descendent of Yosef the son of the Patriarch Yacov.
  • Lineage from R'Naftali to RASHI

    • R'Naftali Shor was the son of Hanna Treves and R'Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor. They lived in Moravia (Maharin?), Ashkenaz and Alsace in the 16th cent.

    • Hanna was the daughter of Naftali Hertz Treves who was Rabbi in Frankfurt am Main and author of Sidur Kabbala and Naftulei Elokim.

    • Naftali was the son of Eliezer Treves who was Rabbi in Slatstat, Alsace (1480).

    • Eliezer was the son of Shmuel Treves .

    • Shmuel was the son of Yoseph Treves (d 1435) who was Rabbi of Marseilles, France.

    • Yosef was the son of Yohanan Treves (Appx 1365 - 1429) who followed his father footsteps by going to Spain to advance his studies. When his father died, he returned to Paris and was appointed Rabbi of Paris and Chief Rabbi of France. In 1394, when the Jews were again expelled from France, R'Yohanan was at the head of those who resettled in Italy. His wife was the daughter of R'Menashe Viza who was well placed in the court of the king of Poland. R'Yohanan died 9 Av 5189 .

    • Yohanan was the son of Matityahu Treves, aka R'Matityahu Haprovinci (Appx 1335 - 1385). He studied with his father and then with R'Peretz Hacohen and R'Nisim Girondi in Barcelona, Spain. After expulsion, pogroms and the black plague (subsided about 1350) few Jews remained in France, but in 1360 king Charles V invited the Jews to return and R'Matityahu was welcomed as Rabbi in Paris. He succeeded in uniting Jews of Northern and Southern France and established a major Yeshiva in Paris.

    • Matityahu was the son of Yoseph Treves, aka R'Yoseph ha'Gadol (Appx 1305 - 1370), a scholar of Province who became Rabbi in Marseilles.

    • Yosef was the son of Yohanan Treves, aka R'Yohanan Ashkenazi(Appx 1280 - 1350) who left France when Jews were expelled (1285-1314) by king Phillip IV and settled in Ashkenaz.

    • Yohanan was the son of Avraham Treves (Appx 1230 - 1300) who was a notable 13th cent French scholar and the grandson of R'Yehudah of Paris (ie child of R'Yehuda's daughter and (?) Treves)

    • Avraham's mother was the daughter of Yehuda b'Yom-Tov, aka R'Yehuda of Paris (Appx 1115 - 1155) who was a noted tosaphist and a student of R'Yacov b'Meir (aka Rabbenu Tam). He married the widowed wife of his uncle R'Itzhak b'Meir (she was the daughter of R'Itzhak Hazaken).

    • Yehuda was the son of Yom-Tov b'Yehuda, aka R'Yom-Tov of Falais (Appx 1090 - 1140) who was a grandson and student of RASHI. He was born in Falais, France and was a noted tosaphist in Lotir, Falais and Paris (c 1140). His sons were Yehuda and Yosef, aka R'Yosef of Falais (scholar and Tosafist c 1200).

    • Yom-Tov was the son of Miriam (b Appx 1070) whose husband R'Yehuda b'Natan (aka RYBaN), was one of the great Tosaphists of Troyes. R'Yehuda was a student of RASHI and completed many of the commentaries left unfinished when RASHI died; he also wrote his own commentaries on many tractates of Talmud.

    • Miriam was the daughter of Shlomo b'Itzhak, aka RASHI(1040 - 1105). RASHI was a noted rabbi, commentator, physician. He wrote widely accepted commentaries on Torah, Talmud, Midrashim, Pesakin, Responsa . (For more about RASHI see Profiles)!

    • RASHI claimed to be 33rd generation descendent of the Tanna (scholars who are cited in the Mishna) Rav Yohanan Hasandlar.


    Moshe (Efraim Zalman) Shor (Appx 1510 to 1571)

    In the Chronicles of the Shor Family, H D Friedberg states that the first descendant of R"J Behor Shor that was known to him was R'Hiam Shor, who lived at the beginning of the third century of the current millenium (appx 1440-1480); lived in Moravia (Maharin?) and was the father of R'Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor who was born at the end of the third century (appx 1520-1540).

    R'Moshe is the first reasonably well defined ancestor of this distinguished branch of the Shor family. He is said to be a descendent of R'Yosef Behor Shor, tosafist of Orleans, N France; lived in Moravia (Maharin?), Ashkenaz and Alsace in 16th c (1540-1640) ... reasonably well defined because there is still a great deal of controversy surrounding him:

    • In the book Ancient Jewish Families by J L Shapiro, the ancestors of R'Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor are listed as R'Haim son of R'Avraham, Son of R'Shmuel Shor who was a descendent of R"J Behor Shor.

    • According to R'Meir Wunder (Elef Margoliot) R'Moshe was the son of R'Haim Shor, a descendent of R"Y Behor Shor; he married the daughter of R'Peretz (Shapira) of Krakow, the grandson of R'Peretz ABD of Kosnitz (in principality of Baden, Ashkenaz), the son of R'Shlomo Speyer Shapira ABD Heilbrun & Landau, the grandson of R'Matityahu Treves whose Ancestry can be traced to Rashi.

    • R"Y Levenstein (HaEshkol v'Ha Peless) claims R'Moshe was the son of R'Avraham of Meharin, the grandson of R'Avraham, son of R'Shmuel Shor of Posna, who was a descendent of R"J Behor Shor. He married M'Hana, daughter of R'Naftali Hertz Treves, aka R'Hertz Hazan, who was physician to the king of Poland and ABD of Krakow and of Lublin (died in Lublin in AM 5331, 1571 CE).

    • J"L Shapiro (Mishpahot Atikot b'Isroel) states that R'Moshe was the son of R'Haim, son of R'Avraham, son of R'Shmuel Shor, who was descended from R"Y Behor Shor. He was married to Hava, daughter of R'Naftali Hertz Treves (ABD and Warden in Frankfort am Main) who was also a descendent of R'Matityahu Treves (Hava died in 1571).

    • The latter marriage seems quite likely, in that son Naftali Zvi-Hersh would have been named for his grandfather.

    Children of R'Moshe were:

    Naftali (Zvi Hersh) Shor (Appx 1530 to 1587)

    R'Naftali was born in Alsace (aka R'Hersh Alsacer). He left home as a youth and travelled to Krakow to study at the Yeshiva of R'Moshe Iserlis (the RAMA). He became a friend and protege of the RAMA and married Rivka the daughter of R'Yisrael (B"R Shalom) Shachna, ABD Lublin and si"l of the RAMA.

    After his marriage and at the suggestion of his teacher, the RAMA, he returned to Alsace with the intent of serving as Rabbi in one of the communities of Ashkenaz. However, conditions were difficult for Jews in that part of Europe and he soon returned to Poland where, on the recommendation of the RAMA he was installed as Rabbi in Brest (prior to 1558). Later, he became Head of the Bet Midrash in Lublin where many of his students became well-known Rabbis and authors. R'Naftali was a renowned teacher and scholar. R'naftali died in Lublin, 7 Shvat 5347. Children of R'Naftali were:

    • Avraham Hiam Shor (Appx 1560 to 1632); rabbi in Satanov, ABD and RM in Belz. (For more about R'Avraham see Profiles)!

    • Efraim Zalman Shor (Appx 1550 to 1633) aka Tvuot Shor (the Elder); Rabbi in Sversin (1617), Horudna, Brest, Lublin. (For more about R'Efraim see Profiles)!

    • Shmuel Shor (Appx 1550 to 1632); rabbi in Turbin, RM in Lvov. R'Shmuel is the direct ancestor of R'Alexander Sender - Tevuot Shor the Younger (see above).

    • M'Margele Shor (born Appx 1550); wife of R'Eliezer (Lazer or Lipman) Ashkenazi-Halperin - ABD Tikitin, son of R'Moshe Halperin - author of Zihron Moshe (Lublin 1611). Their sons were R'Yisrael, R'Yitshak Izaac (aka Itsik Stanhov) and R'Moshe Yehuda Zalki.

    • Reizel Shor (born Appx 1550); wife of R'Yisrael son of R'Avraham Meizels of Krakow. Reizel died in Krakow 24 Shvat 5388 (1628), a few days after her husband who died on 18 Shvat

    • Eigele Hasnal Shor

    Avraham Hiam Shor (Appx 1560 to 1632)

    R' Avraham was rabbi in Satanov, ABD and RM in Belz (about 1624) and according to Lowenstein (Ir Tehila) rabbi in Lvov; he died in Belz 9 Shvat 5492 and is buried in Lvov.

    R'Avraham was an author and interpreter of Jewish law. While still a youth, he and his friend R'Mordhai Asher, ABD and RM in Brzezany established a Bet Midrash and invited outstanding young rabbi's to join them in a program to study and clarify the Order Kidushin, which neither Rashi or the Tosaphists had succeeded in unraveling. Resulting corrections and clarifications were compiled in the form of a hand- written manuscript Zoan Kedoshim (citing himself and R'Mordhai Asher as authors). It was published by R'Avraham's grandson R'Haim b Ozer (Vansbeck, 1729).

    His major work Torat Haim - novellae relating to the six orders of the Talmud (part 1 Lublin, 1624; part 2 Krakow 1636) was republished many times. Kontres Bedek Habayit (notes on the part of the Shulhan Aruch - Eban Haezer - which deals with divorce) was printed with Aryeh b Davids Gur Aryeh (Amsterdam, 1733). He is cited by R'Binyamin Salnik in Masaot Binyamin and by Delmedigo in Elim.

    The identity of his wife is not known. The author of Elef Margaliot speculates that he may have married his niece, daughter of R'Efraim Zalman [Tevuot] Shor (this could explain claim that his grandchildren were descendents of R'Shaul Wahl).

    Efraim Zalman Shor (Appx 1550 to 1633);

    Polish rabbinical scholar and author. From 1613 to 1624 he was ABD and rabbi in Grodno (Horudno), Szczebrzeszyn (Shebrshin), Brest-Litovsk and Lublin. In 1618 he was one of the rabbis who signed the 'Takana' of the Council of Four Lands. The esteem in which he was held can be guaged from the fact that his 'haskama' (approbation) to the 'Ikarim' of Joseph Albo with the commentary 'Ez Shatul' (Venice, 1618) appears before that of R'Meir, MAHARAM of Lublin.

    The identity of R'Efraim's first wife is not known however, the children she bore him were:

    At 70 years of age (Appx 1615) the widowed R'Efraim married Hanele, the daughter of King's Minister Shaul (Yudiche) Wahl of Brest (scholar, businessman and advisor to Polish kings and nobles) the son of R'Shlomo Yehuda Katznelenbogen of Padua and Florence. Their son, who also became a renouned scholar was R'Yacov Shor (Appx 1615 to 1655).For more about R'Yacov see Profiles!

    In his later years R' Efraim was Rabbi, AB"D and head of his own Academy (Yeshiva) in Lublin; he died in Lublin on 18 Tishrei 5394.

    R'Efraim's fame as a scholar rests on his work 'Tevuot Shor' (Lublin, 1615-16) a digest of the voluminous 'Bet Yoseph' of Josef Karo (which was based on the 'Arba Turim' of Jacob b'Asher) in which Shor adds new sources and comments on some of the sources of the 'turim' provided by Karo and b'Asher. His responsa and decisions are frequently quoted by his contemporaries. He was referred to by the name of his work, but later, in order to distinguish him from his relative Alexander Schor, who also wrote a work under the same title, he was referred to as 'the Elder Tvuot Schor'.

    Alexander Sender Shor (Appx 1655 to 1737)was the son of R' Efraim Zalman Shor , Magid of Lvov; he was born in Lvov and orphaned as an infant. Alexander was something of a prodigy and was appointed Rabbi of Hovenov (vicinity of Belz) as a youth (some say as early as 1670). Shor was marrried to Voytel, the daughter of Moshe Mordechai Leibush of Zolkiew, president of the Council of Four Lands.

    About 1704 he resigned his position in Hovenov, feeling himself both unwilling and unable to continue to bear the responsibility of the rabbinate. He went to live in Zolkiew where he remained for the rest of his life, devoting himself to study and writing and earning his living working in a distillery. He died 27 Shvat 5497 (1737) and is buried in Zolkiev; his wife died in Zolkiew on 24 Heshvan 5500.

    Shor was considered one of the foremost scholars of his age. He was the author of a definitive work on shehita and kashrut referred to in its entirity as 'Tevuot Shor'. The work was published in Zolkiew in 1733. In accordance with rabbinic custom (relating to the authors of landmark works of scholarship) he is known by the title of his work - as the Tevuot Shor (frequently abbreviated to 'the TEVUSH'). Actually, he was/is sometimes called Tevuot Shor the Younger, since an earlier Shor relation - R'Ephriam Zalman B"R Naphtali Herz Shor - had also published a noteable work by the same name.

    'Tevuot Shor'consists of three parts: Simlah Hadashah (a digest of the laws of ritual slaughter - shehita and trefut), Tevuot Shor (an Index to the laws) and 'Bekor Shor' (miscellaneous appended material including novellae on both the 'halaka' and 'aggada' to 'Hulin' and other tractates). The work attained great popularity. It has been republished at least 17 times and came to be regarded as the authoritative work on the subject. Schor generally assumes a stringent interpretation of the relevent laws. In practice, knowledge of' 'Tevuot Schor' was regarded as a prerequisite for a 'Shohet' before he was granted a 'kabbala' (a permit to practice 'shkita').

    The name of the book became almost a concept: of an expert in the laws of 'shkita' it was said: "he is an expert in the 'Tevuot Schor'. Commentaries were written on it, the most important being 'Levushei Serad' of D S Eybeshuetz (Moghilev, 1812) and the 'Tikunei ha-Zeva' of Isaiah Borochowitz (1883).

    Alexander Shor had a sister to whom he was devoted. There is no record of her name or the identity of her husband, however, she had a son, Efraim Zalman who was called R'Zalman Lokovar. R'Zalman composed a poem which his uncle (the Tevuot Shor) included in his work Behor Shor (Masehet Taanit) with the inscription: "These are the words of my nephew, the complete scholar and outstanding rabbi Our Teacher the Rabbi Rav Efraim Zalman, may god preserve him, Maggid in the Great synagogue of our congregation. His son, Menahem Mendel Zolkovar, was Magid in the city of Brody (see Maalot Yochsin, pp 55).

    Shaul Katznellenbogen-Wahl was Born in Padua. He was the son of R'Shmuel Yehuda Katzenelenbogen-Mintz (author of the book 'Twelve Sermons of R'Itshak Mintz') who was the son of R'Meir K'bogen (author of Questions and Answers of Maharam Padua).

    In his youth his father sent him to Poland to study in the great Yeshivas of Galicia. On his way he was set upon by bandits and robbed of his money. He wandered from city to city, Yeshiva to Yeshiva, until settling in Brest-Litovsk. He remained there, became a merchant and prospered (he adopted the name Wahl but is referred to as Saul Judycz, ie son of Yehudah, in state documents of Poland-Lithuania). Wahl gained wide reputation for his wisdom and the respect of the ministers and princes of Poland.

    Some claim that Saul's introduction to the Polish Court and his initial success was due to the patronage of Prince Radziwell, who promoted Wahl's cause out of gratitude to his father R'Shmuel Yehuda of Padua. The Prince, at a critical time during a pilgrimage, found himself in Padua and was given immediate and unconditional aid by R'Yehuda.

    In 1578 King Stephen Bathory granted him a lease to salt pans in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with the sole right to sell their products, and in 1580, to the salt mines in Wieliczka near Krakow. Later he became collector of the kings revenues in the Brest region and in 1589 King Sigismund III granted him the status 'servus regis' (the Kings servant ie minister/courtier) in his capacity as advisor and confidant to the king and nobles of Poland.

    A legend propogated by some of his descendents claims that on the day King Stephen died the assembly (of Polish Nobles) failed to elect a new king by the end of the day. In order not to leave the realm without a ruler, the assembly appointed Wahl to serve as King, until one could be properly elected. The next day, Sigismund was elected by the assembly and the reign of 'King for a day' Saul 'Judische' Wahl ended (there is no available historical record of such an incident).

    From the 1580s Wahl was a 'parnas' (warden) of the Jewish community of Brest, and a leader of Lithuanian Jewry, taking an important part in the Council of the Four Lands from its inception. In 1593, thru the mediation of Wahl (in spite of opposition of the city council), the Brest Jewish Community was given the right to adjudicate lawsuits between Jews.

    Saul was married to the daughter of David Drucker, (aka David Wahl - 'parnas' and leader in the Jewish community of Brest) and they had thirteen children. In spite of the extent of his business, political and social interests and activities Wahl is said to have been a devoted husband and father. One of his contemporaries said of him that: "... whoever has not seen Shaul Wahl in the midst of his family, surrounded by children and grandchildren - cannot appreciate the greatness of Shaul". Saul Wahl died in 5377 (1617).

    R'Yacov (son of Efriam Zalman) Shor. His mother was Hanele, the daughter of R'Shaul Wahl (Minister and advisor to kings and nobles of Poland) was the second wife of R'Efriam.

    R'Yacov expounded Torah and trained notable students, as a religous teacher in Brest (1639). He became ABD of Lutzk (1647) and sent Responsa to the great sages of his age. He was ABD of Brest (1650) and became known as Abir Hagaonim (the noblest of the Gaonim). He was author of Pilpulei Harifta on the talmudic order Sanhedrin (Amsterdam, 1655) later published as Bet Yacov (Venice, 1693). He is mentioned in Bet Hillel by R"Hillel B"R Naftali Hersh (Dyhrnfurth, 1691), Bet Yacov by Yacov Zausmer (Dyhrb-furth, 1696), Responsa Geonim Battrai and Helkai Mehokek. R'Yacov was a pupil of R'Abraham B"R Aaron Binyamin of Slonick (author of Masaot Binyamin AB"D Brest.

    His signature appears in 1647 and 1649 in the Pinkas of Lithuania, following that of Yona Teomim, AB"D of Grodno. His signature while in Brest appeared in 1650, 1651 and 1655. He was also the author of a book of responsa which remained a hand written manuscript.

    Among the numerous legends relate to R'Yacov and His parents are the following:

    The wife of King Szigismund III of Poland died; some of the king's advisors suggested that he marry the beautiful, clever young daughter of his Jewish Minister Wahl. One of the advisors, a friend of R'Shaul, revealed the plan to him. At this time, the noted Rabbi R'Efriam Zalman (Tvuot) Shor, Rabbi in Brest and already 70 years of age, was widowed. R'Shaul approached the aged sage and proposed marriage to his virginal daughter in order to prevent the intermarriage. R'Efriam consented and they were wed ...

    Another legend is that Henely was promised to the brilliant R'Heshiel of Brest but Minister Wahl reneged saying that he wouldn't give his daughter to a man who could not speak or read the Polish language. This led to enimity between the minister and the community of Brest - in that he had insulted their Rabbi by reneging on his promise and then married his daughter to R'Efriam, who was also illiterate in Polish ... Later when Henely aproached R'Heshiel to train her son Yacov for the rabbinate, he refused. She consoled her son telling him that he had been rejected because her father had once greatly angered R'Heshiel. When RE"Z died, the widow Henely devoted all her strength and considerable intelect to ensuring that her clever son would be properly trained ...

    Legends about Saul Wahl, his accomplishments and his philanthropies are recorded in Gdulat Shaul (ed. by H Edelmann, London, 1854; 4a-b).

    Olga (born Appx 1536) was the daughter of R'Moshe Efraim Zalman Shor and sister of R'Naftali Hersh Shor. Her husband R'Yosef Yona (Appx 1526 to 1578) was the son of R'Kalonymos Kalman (rabbi in Brest - 1560) who was the son of R'Yosef Yona (noted scholar of Lublin - 1540). Her husband is described as an attractive man who rejected worldly pleasures to live the life of an ascetic. Their son was:

    Efraim Naftali Hersh (Appx 1556 to 1622). R'Efriam was ABD Brest and Lodimir and Parnass, and a member of the Committee of Four Lands. He died in Lodmir 25 Tamuz 5382. His wife was the daughter of R'Yacov Halevi Weil (the son of R'Moshe Weil, whose wife, Bina Katzenellenbogen, was the daughter of R'Meir, MAHRAM Padua) . Their son was:

    Yacov (Appx 1570 to 1644). R'Yacov was ABD in Brest and, after death of RE"Z Shor in 1634, was appointed ABD and R"Y in Lublin. He died in Lublin 17 Kislev 5405. His wife was Shprintza, daughter of R'Shmuel Uri Shraga (aka R'Shmuel R'Utka's) Weil (he was son of Yacov - ABD of Bomberg-Schwaben, a descrndent of the MAHRAM of Rothenberg ). Their son was:

    Avraham Joshua Heshiel (Appx 1596 to 1664), aka R'Heshiel of Krakow. R'Avraham was R"M Brest and in Lublin and in 5416 he was appointed ABD in Krakow. He died in 5424. His first wife M'Miriam, was the daughter of R'Moshe Isserlis (aka R'Moshe R'Lazers - Parnass and Magid in Brest, d 1640) son of Eliezer Isserlis (brother of the RAM"A and husband of Miriam, daughter of R'Shlomo Luria - MARASH"L of Lublin - 1510 to 1573). His second wife was M'Dina, the daughter of R'Shmuel Yehuda K'bogen-Wahl son of King's Minister R'Shaul Wahl.

    Rabbi Shlomo ben Itshak (Itshaki) aka RASHI (1040 - 1105).

    Rashi was a renouned Bible and Talmud scholar. He was born in Troyes, France into a cultured, well-to-do family that was related to many great Jewish scholars of his age in France and Germany. At an early age he went to Germany to study in the Academies at Mainz and Worms. At age 25 he returned to his native town of Troyes and founded his own academy which attracted many students. His learning and character raised him to position of respect among the Jews of Ashkenaz and Spain.

    The pressing need for an adequate and complete commentary on the Bible and the Talmud prompted Rashi to set about writing his famous, definitive interpretation of these works. It was said that " ... he brightened the eyes of Israel with his commentaries on the Torah and the Talmud" and he was called 'Parshan Datah' (commentator par excellance).

    His commentaries excel all others in the lucidity and precision with which they explain even the most intricate subject. Though his primary objective was to establish the plain and exact meaning of the biblical text, he also included interpretations from the Midrash whenever he felt they contributed to the better understanding of Scripture. Rather than suggest forced interpretations, however, he would on occasion admit that "I cannot explain this". Rashi's commentary on the Bible was the first dated Hebrew book printed (1475) and had a great influence on Jew and non-Jew alike; it was translated into Latin, studied by Nicolas of Lyra (13 cent) and used in the preparatioin of the first German translation of the Bible. Several super-commentaries have been written on it. R's commentary on the Babylonian Talmud was based on a preliminary study of the textual tradition with a view to establishing correct readings. In this work too his style is characterized by lucidity, logic and terseness. His commentary on the Talmud was left incomplete, ending in the tractate 'Makkot', p19b; it was continued by his grandson Samuel b'Meir.

    It was said that but for Rashi's commentary, the Talmud would have been forgotten. Unlike the Tosaphists, he did not enter into dialectical discussions, but would obviate questions and difficulties by a judicious word or phrase. His interpretations of talmudic passages have often determined halakhic decisions; in his responsa he emerges as one of the great authorities of Jewish law.

    Rashi often translated difficult words into French; his commentaries contain about 10,000 French words and incidentally constitute a valuable source for the study of old French.

    When centers of rabbinic learning in the Rhineland were destroyed by the ravages of the First Crusade (1096) and the great teachers killed, the commentaries of Rashi were eagerly sought by hundreds of students without teachers. He attracted many students to his school in Troyes, which became the most important center of rabbinic learning in central Europe. It was due to the influence of Rashi and his school that France became the classical land of 'Bible and Talmud' study, while Spain remained the center of Jewish poetry and philosophy.

    For many centuries study of the Pentateuch and the Talmud meant, in essence, the study of Rashi's commentaries; his work formed an essential part of Jewish basic education, and has to this day continued to retain its freshness and value.

    Rashi had three daughters and no sons; his work was carried on by his sons-in-law, grandsons and other of his students. Rashi died in Troyes on 13 July 1105.

    Rabbenu Josef Behor Shor (aka R'Josef of Orleans) b'Josef).

    The name Behor Shor (firstling bullock) derives from the blessing applied to Joseph when Moses blessed the Children of Israel (Deut 33:17) ...

           his firstling bullock, glorifies him
           his horns are the horns of the wild-ox
           with them shall he gore nations
           all of them, unto the ends of the earth
           they are the ten thousands of Ephriam
           and the thousands of Manassah.

    R'Josef studied with R'Jacob b'Meir (1100 - 1171) aka Rabbenu Tam, his brother R'Samuel b'Meir (1080 - 1158+) aka Rishbam (both noted tosafists and grandsons of Rashi) and Josef Caro. Despite the doubts of some scholars, the identity of R'Josef Behor Shor and tosafist R'Josef of Orleans is accepted. Gross (Berliner Magazin, i 93; idem, Gallia Judaica, p 34) showed that the explanations given in the Tosafot (Hul 112b; Yeb 25b, 36b) in the name of R'Josef b'Isaac, are quoted in the Sefer Mitzvot Katan (book on Jewish Precepts by R'Itshak of Korbel, 13th c) and in the 'Responsa' of R'Meir b'Baruch of Rothenburg (1220 - 1293, one of the last and greatest of the tosafists) as those of R"J Behor Shor.

    R"J b'Isaac of Orleans is mentioned frequently in the tosafot. He was on very friendly terms with R'Jacob Tam, who held him in great esteem and referred to him in terms of high praise. Four of his halakic questions addressed to Rabbenu Tam are preserved in the 'Sefer HaYashar' (p 71a), while excerpts from others are quoted by earlier authorities. R'Abraham b'Josef of Orleans (mentioned several times in the tosafot) is assumed by most researchers to be his son.

    Besides writing tosafot on the greater part of the Talmud, R"J wrote Biblical commentary marked by considerable acumen. In his exegesis, he uses literal interpretation (pshat) in the manner of Rashi, Jos Caro, and particularly R'Samuel b'Meir. He has small regard for grammar, and is not as extreme as R'Samuel b'Meir in his avoiding homiletic comments, adding these occasionally alongside the literal interpretation. He strongly opposes allegorization of the Commandments, neglect of which he vehemently assails, adopting a similar attitude regards the precepts of 'tefilin' and the 'mezuzah'. This did not, however, prevent him giving literal interpretation to some passages, which were contrary to accepted 'halakah', which he neither repudiates nor controverts. In many respects he pursued a new and original course, though in his efforts to produce novel interpretations his comments are at times strange and pilpulistic.

    R"J dwells at length on biblical characters and investigates the motives for their actions. In many ways his exegesis is similar to those of the Spanish commentators as in his efforts to explain away anthropomorphic expressions, to defend actions of the patriarchs and reject calumnies against them, to regard miracles as almost natural phenomena and to give, to a greater extent than his French predecessors, a rational basis for the Commandments. He anticipates later Biblical criticism by assuming duplicate narratives in the Bible and by striving to give rational explanations to the miraculous stories.

    R"J knew Latin, and was well aquainted with the Vulgate Bible and with Christian Biblical exegesis. In speech and writing he refuted christological interpretation of biblical passages (attacking appostates and Christians, against whom he argued a great deal). He rejected attempts to find biblical allusions to Christian dogma. He also rejected allegorical explanations that deny validity of the Commandments. "Although they have translated the Bible from the holy tongue to the vernacular, the Lord has given them neither the heart to understand, the eyes to see nor the ears to hear"!

    Prior to WWII, his commentary on the Pentateuch, in manuscript form, were housed in the libraries of Leyden and Munich. The parts on Genesis & Exodus were published by Jellinek (Leipsic, 1855); parts of other books were published in the Berliner in 'Peletat Soferim' (1872) and excerpts from his commentary on Psalms were published in Revue des Etudes Juives (V 58, 1909, p 309-11). R'Joseph's commentary on the Pentateuch, was issued in its entirety by Joseph Gad (1956-60).

    R"J was author of liturgical poems, piyyutim and Selihot: In his commentary on Genesis and Exodus, he adds a poem (style of Ibn Ezra) at the end of each weekly portion expressing his hopes and hopes of the Jewish people. He wrote piyutim (style of northern French and German paytanim) telling of the sorrows that afflicted his generation. Several of these were published by Habermann (Tarbiz, Vol 9, 1937-8).

    (c) 1997

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