The tombstone of Horowitz in Frankfurt am Main-Innenstadt.
|Title||Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz|
|Died||July 1, 1805|
The descendant of a long line of rabbinical ancestors and the son of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Horowitz of Chortkiv, he received a thorough Talmudic education, chiefly from his older brother, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, together with whom he was a follower of Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch, the Maggid of Mezeritch. He married at an early age the daughter of the wealthy Joel Heilpern, who provided for him and permitted him to occupy himself exclusively with his studies. Adverse circumstances then forced him to accept a rabbinical position, and he became rabbi of Witkowo, from which place he was called later on to Lachovice.
He was involved in the controversial "Get of Cleves" case and wrote a responsum to validate the divorce. However, according to tradition, before he was able to publish the responsa his ink bottle spilled over the paper. His students convinced him that enough rabbis had written on this case and it was not necessary to rewrite it. Rabbi Avraham Abish, then the Rabbi of Frankfurt, had fought to invalidate the divorce; in response, when he died in 1769 the rabbinical court in Frankfurt vowed not to hire for the position of Chief Rabbi anyone who had written a responsum validating the divorce. Since Rabbi Horowitz's responsum had never been published he was able to become the rabbi in the very prestigious community.
Although a cabalist, he disagreed with Rabbi Nathan Adler, who held separate services in his house according to the cabalistic ritual. When Moses Mendelssohn's Pentateuch appeared, Horowitz denounced it in unmeasured terms, admonishing his hearers to shun the work as unclean, and approving the action of those persons who had publicly burned it in Vilna (1782). Following the same principle, he opposed the establishment of a secular school in 1794.
Horowitz's chief work is "Hafla'ah," novellae on the tractate Ketubot, with an appendix, "Kuntres Aharon," or "Shevet Achim," Offenbach, 1786. The second part, containing novellae on the tractate Kiddushin, also with an appendix, appeared under the title "Sefer ha-Makneh," in 1800. Other-works are: "Nesivos la-Shavet," glosses on sections 1-24 of the Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Lemberg, 1837; "Giv'as Pinchas," a collection of eighty-four responsa, in 1837; and "Panim Yafos," a cabalistic commentary on the Pentateuch, printed with the Pentateuch, Ostroh, 1824 (separate ed. 1851, n.p.).
Rabbi Horowitz was one of the last pilpulists in Germany, and he therefore represents the developed stage of rabbinical dialectics. It was in keeping with these views that he opposed secular education and even the slightest change of the traditional form of public worship (see his denunciation of a choir in the synagogue, in "Givas Pinchas," No. 45).
- Aaron Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, s.v.;
- M. Horovitz, Frankfurter Rabbinen, iv., Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1885