Yitzchak Meir Alter

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Yitzchak Meir Alter
Gerrer Rebbe
Full name Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter
Main work Chidushei Harim
Born 1799
Magnuszew, Poland
Dynasty Ger
Predecessor none
Successor Chanoch Henoch of Alexander
Wife Feigele Lipszyc
Children Avraham Mordechai
Cyna Pesia
Leah Hudes
Esther
Preserved part of the Jewish House of Religious Studies and Prayer at 57 Żelazna Street in Warsaw which housed the Yitzchak Meir Alter synagogue

Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter (Polish: Icchak Meir Rothenberg Alter), is considered to be the first Rebbe of the Ger Hasidic dynasty, which he founded in the town of Góra Kalwaria (known as "Ger" in Yiddish), Poland. He headed the Kupath Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Kollel Polen (Poland) [ קופת רמבעה"ן כולל פולין ורשה / וארשא]. He was also known as the Chidushei HaRim for his Torah books. He is sometimes referred to fondly as Reb Itche Meir by his followers.

Early life[edit]

Rabbi Rotenberg was born in Magnuszew, Poland, in late 1799. He came from a very distinguished family of rabbis, among the most prominent in Germany and Poland. He was a descendant of Rashi and of the Tosafist, Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg.

He married Feigele Lipszyc, daughter of Moshe 'Halfon' Lipszyc, in 1811, and settled in Warsaw. They had fourteen children (according to most published sources), most of whom died in infancy.

Rabbi Rotenberg became known as a Talmudic gaon. At first he was close to the rebbes of Kozhnitz. After some years he was drawn to the Rebbe, Reb Simcha Bunim of Prshischa, whose close adherent he became. After the demise of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim, Alter became a disciple of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, known as the Kotzker Rebbe, who was famous for his acerbic wit and Talmudic brilliance. He was soon followed by a large number of Reb Bunim's followers. Alter and the Kotzer Rebbe eventually became brothers-in-law, when the latter married Chaya Lipszyc, the sister of Alter's wife Feigele.

In 1830 he was forced to change his name to Alter because of his support towards the Poles during the November Uprising.

Rabbi Rotenberg was succeeded as Rebbe by his colleague and disciple, Rabbi Chanoch Henoch of Alexander.

One of his sons, Avraham Mordechai, and three daughters, Cyna Pesia, Leah Hudes and Esther, survived to adulthood and married. By the time of Alter's death on 23 Adar 5626 (1866), only one child (Esther) remained alive.

Works[edit]

Rabbi Rotenberg is also known for his talmudic commentary, though he wrote on many other areas. Extant published works are:

Rebbes of Ger[edit]

  1. Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg(1798–1866)
  2. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847–1905)
  3. Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866–1948)
  4. Yisrael Alter (1895–1977)
  5. Simcha Bunim Alter (1898–1992)
  6. Pinchas Menachem Alter (1926–1996)
  7. Yaakov Aryeh Alter (b. 1939)

Sources[edit]

  • Meir Einei Hagoilo, by Avrohom Yisochor Binyomin Alter and Avrohom Mordechai Alter, (1928)
  • Toldoth Horim, by Itshe Myer Broder of Ger.
  • No. 100 Elul 5727 Page 80 בית יעקב, פנחס יעקב הכהן לוין