Joseph Meir Weiss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Joseph Meir Weiss (Weisz)[1] (Hebrew: יוסף מאיר ווייס‎‎), also known as the "Imrei Yosef" after his major work,[2] (March 15, 1838 – May 26, 1909)[3] was a Hungarian rabbi and founder of the Spinka Hasidic dynasty.[1][3]

Early life[edit]

Weiss was born in Munkacz, Hungary (now Mukacheve, Ukraine). His father, Rabbi Samuel Zevi (Shmuel Tzvi) Weiss,[4] was Av Beit Din of Munkacz, and his mother was the daughter of Tzvi Hirsch of Drohobycz, Hungary (now Drohobych, Ukraine).[3] Weiss attended the yeshiva of Rabbi Meir Eisenstaedter in Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhhorod, Ukraine).[3]

When Meir Eisenstaedter died in 1852, Weiss continued his studies under Meir's son, Rabbi Menachem Eisenstaedter.[3] Weiss then studied at Rabbi Shmuel Smelke Klein of Hust, Hungary (now Khust, Ukraine), author of Tzeror HaChaim.[3] His foremost mentor of Hasidism was Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Eichenstein of Ziditshov.[3] Eichenstein is to have said "I don't know why [Weiss] continues to visit us...He certainly does not need to acquire the fear of God from me."[3] Weiss was also influenced by Rabbis Chaim Halberstam of Sanz, Sholom Rokeach of Belz,[3] and Menachem Mendel Hager, the first Rebbe of Vizhnitz.[4]

In 1854, when Weiss was 16, his mother died.[3] That year, he married the daughter of Mordechai of Borşa (now Romania), but she died three years later.[3] Weiss married again and had two daughters, but his second wife died in 1868. In 1870, he married Perl, the daughter of Ezra Yaakov Basch of Săpânța (Yiddish: Spinka), Maramureş, Romania, near the Hungarian border.[3]


In Munkacs, Weiss established a yeshiva with a high level of Talmudic studies that drew students from other countries.[5] Following the death of his mentor, the Rebbe of Zidichov, in June 1873, Weiss established his own Hasidic sect in his third wife's hometown of Spinka.[3]

Weiss was called a "miracle worker",[3] and attracted thousands of followers.[4] He was also known for his self-mortification and ecstatic prayers.[4] He prayed during festivals with the words from Musaf Amidah:


Weiss died in 1909 and in 1972, his remains were reinterred in Petah Tikva, Israel.[3]

Weiss was succeeded as Rebbe by his son, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Weiss (1875–1944).[1][2] When World War II broke out, Yitzchak Isaac moved the Spinka court to Munkacs.[4] Yitzchak Isaac was murdered by the Nazis in the Auschwitz concentration camp, together with thirty one family members, in 1944.[3] After the war, Yitzchak Isaac's grandson, Jacob Joseph Weiss, re-established the dynasty in Jerusalem.[4] Other offshoots were established by descendants of Yosef Meir in Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Queens, Kiryas Joel, London, Antwerp, and Bnei Brak.[citation needed]


Weiss died in 1909. His writings, published posthumously, were:[4]

  • Imrei Yosef (1910–27) – a four-volume commentary on the Chumash
  • Imrei Yosef (1931) – sermons on the festivals and their customs
  • Hakdamat Likkutei Torah ve-ha-Shas (1911) – sermons and Hasidic teachings
  • Peirush la-Haggadah shel Pesach (1964) – a commentary on the Passover Haggadah
  • Tefillot u-Minhagim (1912) – a collection of prayers and customs

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hellman, Peter (4 May 2010). "The Spinka Rebbe’s Namesake". The Jewish Week. 
  2. ^ a b Nadler, Allan (23 January 2008). "Righteous Indignation: How Are We To Understand the Alleged Spinka Scandal?". The Jewish Daily Forward. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Rabinowicz, Tzvi (2000). Hasidism in Israel: A History of the Hasidic Movement and its Masters in the Holy Land. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 208–09. ISBN 978-0-7657-6068-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Antine, Nissan. "Spinka" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  5. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert. "Short History of Jews in Transcarpathia" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 2010-07-12.