Wednesday, August 6, 2008

גדולתו של יהונתן

One student, for example, described how when his time came to "graduate," to leave the yeshiva, Eibeschutz, in a spontaneous gesture, grabbed his wife's prized Sabbath silver candlesticks and gave it to the young graduate as a lifelong token of his teacher's affection.

- Leopold Greenwald, Beit Yehonatan (Sziget, 1908), second section (comments and additions), 3a

Zerah Eidlitz, one of Jonathan Eibeschutz's more illustrious students, a leading light in Prague's rabbinical and Talmudic establishment in the mid-eighteenth century, whose sermon collection and Talmudic comments are republished in the yeshiva world down to the present day. Born in Prague 1725 to pious but impoverished and undistinguished parents, Zerah was orphaned at an early age. Such circumstances should have prevented him from ever having the educational or financial opportunities necessary to pursuing a life of achievement. But Jonathan Eibeschutz took the boy in, raised him, educated him, and married him off to a wealthy girl, whose family supported him in style for decades and eventually enabled him to pursue a distinguished intellectual and religious career, to even head a yeshiva of his own in Prague and to occupy a highly honored position in the community, a sincere pillar of Prague orthodoxy.

- Or la-Yesharim (Jerusalem, 1995 edition), unpaginated biographical introduction. See Zerah's autobiographical remarks on page 93. According to one story, Eibeschutz not only arranged Zerah’s marriage to a wealthy bride, a member of the well-connected Yerushlami family of Prague, he also arranged, when the young wife died not long after the marriage, for Zerah to marry her sister. This second marriage required adroit maneuvering on the part of Eibeschutz, see Klemperer, 355; Zinz, 260-261.

Rabbi Meir Fischel's (1703-70), head of the senior beth din of Prague for four decades, another pillar of the Prague rabbinical establishment,..... referred to his teacher Eibeschutz as "equal to Maimonides in the non-mystical branches of the Torah and equal to the ARI (Isaac Luria of Safed [1534-72], the greatest kabbalist of all time) in the mystical branches.

-Klemperer, Chayei Jehonathan, 136.

(quoted in D. Katz - "A case study in the formation of a super-rabbi.."



yet(professor)shalom and landau (noda be'yehuda)would contend that RJE was still a devout Sabbatian

Wolf2191 said...

I wrote this post after reading Scholem's article on the subject. I have a good deal to write on the subject but I don't know if it will do any good.

There is no question that R' Yonosan had some connection to Sabbatianism - so did the Ramchal for that matter. But it was a basically benign form that could fit (in my own view) within the limits of Orthodox Theology.

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