Maharsha

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Maharsha

Shmuel Eidels (1555 – 1631) (Hebrew: שמואל אליעזר הלוי איידלס‎), was a renowned rabbi and Talmudist famous for his commentary on the Talmud, Chiddushei Halachot. Eidels is also known as Maharsha (מהרש"א, a Hebrew acronym for "Our Teacher, the Rabbi Shmuel Eidels").

Biography[edit]

The Maharsha was born in Kraków, Poland. His father, Yehuda, was a Talmudist and both parents were descendants of rabbinic families - his mother Gitel was a cousin of Rabbi Yehuda Loew, the Maharal of Prague. From early childhood, the Maharsha's remarkable talents were evident. When he came of marriageable age, the Maharsha was offered many prestigious shidduchim (marriage partners), but he rejected them, asserting that he wanted to devote himself solely to Torah study.

He married the daughter of Edel Lifschitz of Posen and the late Moshe Lifschitz, rabbi of Brisk. He then moved to Posen and he established a yeshiva there. For twenty years all the expenses of the yeshiva were assumed by his mother-in-law. In appreciation of her support he adopted her name. After her death, he served as rabbi in the following prominent communities: Chełm, Lublin and Ostroh. Eidels was also active in the Council of Four Lands.

His son-in-law was R. Moses ben Isaac Bonems of Lublin, who authored his own novellæ on the Talmud, published with the Ḥiddushe Halakhot, last recension (Mahdura Batra).

Works[edit]

Chiddushei Halachot (חידושי הלכות - "Novellae in Jewish Law") is an "incisive and keenly analytical" commentary on the Talmud, Rashi and Tosafot together, and with a focus on Tosafot. It is said that if one grasps the Maharsha, then one has understood the Tosafot. This commentary was quickly accepted and was printed in almost all editions of the Talmud. Chiddushei Halachot is based on Maharsha's teaching in his yeshiva, and he refrained from printing his commentary on those pages that were studied while he served on the Council of Four Lands.

The Maharsha also wrote an extensive commentary on the aggadot of the Talmud known as the Chiddushei Aggadot (חידושי אגדות - "Novellae in Aggadah") reflecting a wide knowledge of philosophy and Kabbalah.

External links[edit]