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The Children of Rabbi Meir ben Isaac Eisenstadt

Also Known as MaHaRaM A"Sh or Panim Meiroth

by Bernard Israelite Kouchel

Introduction

Panim Meirot

Panim Meiroth, printed in Amsterdam (click on the image for a larger view)

Bernhard Wachstein (1868-1935), historian, bibliographer and genealogist published scholarly studies of the gravestones of the Jewish communities of Vienna and Eisenstadt.

It was in 1988, through concurrent research by Dan Efrat, Israel, and Bernard Israelite Kouchel, USA, that the exact connection of Michael EISENSTADT [son of MaHaRaM A"Sh] to Leah MIRKES was re-established. Through this union, the Eisenstadt-Israelit family can trace its ancestry to R' Meir KATZENELLENBOGEN (c1480-1565), Chief Rabbi in Padua. See lineage recorded in Chapter Five of The Unbroken Chain, by Neil Rosenstein.

The following is a translation of the Wachstein excerpt from Die Grabinschriften des alten Judenfriedhofes in Eisenstadt [The Grave Inscriptions of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Eisenstadt] re: the genealogy of the children of Meir b. Isaac EISENSTADT [MaHaRaM A"Sh], rabbinic authority.

Translation (German to English)

Bernhard Wachstein, Die Grabinschriften des alten Juden-friedhofes in Eisenstadt, Wien: Holzhausen 1922, pp. 78-83

[Translated by Joachim Mugdan, Feb. 1995 for Bernard Israelite Kouchel; additions appear in square brackets, footnotes in the original are indicated by page and number, translator's notes by letters; OR refers to the number in Otzar haRabbanim by Nathan Zvi Friedmann, Bnei Brak c. 1975]

[p. 78]
The children of Meir b. Isaac [OR 12775, also known as MaHaRaM A"Sh (Eisenstadt) or Panim Meiroth] are:

1. Isaac [OR 10451], whom we have met in Eisenstadt in 1723 [cf. p. 65]. His father mentions him in Panim Meiroth III, No. 14, where we should perhaps read [5]496 [1735/36] instead of [5]476 [1715/16], and in Kothnoth Or [Meorei A"Sh p.31d]. He [Isaac] conducted a scholarly correspondence with Chayim Cohen Rapaport [OR 6179]; cf. the latter's responsa, part Eben ha-Eser, No. 69 and appendix. Isaac was rabbi in Neswisch and later in Biala and Slawatycze. He was married to Rachel, the second daughter of Zvi b. Jacob Ashkenazi [Chacham Zvi] [a] and had one son with her [78/1]. He was a zealous partisan of his brother-in-law Jacob Emden in the latter's fight against Jonathan Eibenschitz, cf. Eduth beYaakov p.65a ff and 55a ff (sheet 19, 2), where the brother-in-law relationship is not mentioned. On the dispute, cf. also L. Lewin in Jahrbuch der juedischen literarischen Gesellschaft XI, p. 196 ff and passim.

[a]: According to R' Hersh Goldwurm, The Early Acharonim [Brooklyn: Mesorah Publ. 1989], R' Zvi Ashkenazi [OR 17184] was the grandson of R' Ephraim HaKohen [b. Vilna 1616, d. Budapest 1678], a descendant of R' Ephraim Fishl b. Moshe Yehuda, the first rabbi of the Ashkenazic community in Jerusalem. Some identify the latter with R' Ephraim Fishl of Brisk, a son-in-law of the Maharshal.

[78/1]: Jacob Emden, Megilat Sefer, p. 69: "and they have only a single son, tender and good, wise and a scribe". On p.59, Emden mentions his sister and reports that at the time - about 1714 - she stayed with her father-in-law in Eisenstadt. But at that time Meir was not yet in Eisenstadt; memoirs are not always reliable as regards dates. - The MaHaRaM A"Sh asks his daughter-in-law about how her father Chacham Zvi dealt with the problem of carrying a pocket watch on Shabbat; Panim Meiroth II, p. 83b top.

2. Michael [OR 13120]. Eleazar Kallir reports several remarks in his name in Or Chadash on the Tora [78/2]. In 1765 he was already dead [78/3]. [p. 79] Among his children were Moses, rabbi in Klezk [OR 14406], and Salomon, private gentleman in Brest-Litowsk [b]. Their cousin Eleazar Kallir, who was also the former's brother-in-law, mentions explanations in their names [79/1].

[78/2] Meorei A"Sh, p. 10b, 52a and 60a. His nephew Kallir calls him there as well as on p. 62 c "the pious and famous rabbi, the light of the diaspora [if I read the abbreviation correctly]".

[78/3] Approbation by his son Moses of Thursday [evening?], 25 Shvat [5]525 [16 February 1765, a Shabbat!], for Meorei A"Sh. K[allir] also mentions him with the eulogy for the dead [i.e. adds z"l or the like to the name], but we cannot draw any conclusions from that since the eulogy could have been added just before the book went into print.

[b] According to Otzar haRabbanim, he was rabbi in Brisk [Brest-Litowsk] [OR 18373]. A third brother was Zvi Hirsch [OR 17181], rabbi in Loebschitz [sp?] and Mir.

[79/1] Meorei A"Sh, p. 62c, the above-mentioned approbation for Meorei A"Sh and Or Chadash on Pesachim near the end.

3. Eliezer [OR 2445], who lived in Szydlowiec, where his father had worked earlier. One of Eliezer's sons, Jacob [OR 9483], lived in London and published the booklet Toldoth Jacob there in 1770. Among Jacob's descendants was Moritz Gruenwald, Grand Rabbi of Bulgaria, who died in London on 10 June 1895; cf. the genealogical sketch in his Jungbunzlauer Rabbiner, p. 26. A grandson who also bore the name Eliezer was a student of his great-uncle Eleazar Kallir, whose manuscripts he put in order. In c. 1788 he went from Poland to Kolin in order to hear Kallir's lectures [79/2].

[79/2] Preface to Chavat Yair Chadash [?] (Prague 1792) and p. 63a.

4. Sabbathai [OR 18038]. He was rabbi in Biala, Lithuania, later in Szerszow [79/3]. In 1765, he approved Meorei A"Sh. In the same work, p. 86a, we find two explanations by him. Sabbathai lived to an old age, as we can see from his approbation dated Sunday, 7 Adar II [5]537 / [16 March] 1777 for the work Ateret Joseph by Joseph b. Dov Beer of Liskov, Zolkiew 1788, where he is called yashish ('old man') in the heading [c].

[c] His grandson Benjamin [OR 3667] was dayan in Rosinai [sp?] and died on 1 Tammuz 5607 / 15 June 1847.

5. (Moses) Yehuda [OR 6860]. Like two of his brothers, he was rabbi in Biala. On 8 June 1764, the day when the Polish king was elected, he experienced a serious looting, in which he lost all of his belongings except his clothes and those of his wife and children. The looters extended their "privilege" from 3 to 24 hours, during which [as mentioned before] a large part of the Maharam A"Sh's literary heritage was destroyed [79/4].

[p. 80] To his father's work Or haGanuz, which he edited, he added his own contribution in the preface. He seems to have lived in Eisenstadt between 1764 and 1766, where he was a guest of the couple Samuel and Kressel Guens [80/1]. Yehuda's wife was the daughter of the renowned scholar Naftali Hirz b. Chanoch Henoch from Zolkiew [80/2].

[79/4] [Hebrew text not translated.] As we learn from this report, the looters went from Biala to Brest-Litowsk. There the leaders of the Jewish community obliged (under threat of a ban) anyone who acquired something of the robbed goods to return it to the owner without any benefit.

[80/1] Cf. No. 323 and No. 445.

[80/2] About Hirz from Zolkiew [OR 16210], in whose name Chidushim are reported in Or Yekarot, cf. Buber, Kria Nisgava, p. 64, No. 247.

6. Benjamin [OR 3666]. As rabbi of Lackenbach in Hungary, he signed the approbation for Meorei A"Sh on Thursday, 22 Cheshvan [5]526 [6 November 1765, a Wednesday!]. In the same work, p. 88c, Kallir mentions an explanation of a Talmud passage in his name. Before his term in Lackenbach, we find him among the leaders of the community in Ungarisch-Brod between 1728 and 1747 [80/3].

One of Benjamin's sons was Salomon; he was a learned man but - judging from the titles he is given [80/4] - not a rabbi [d]. His son-in-law Jacob of Schlaining near Rechnitz in Hungary was a student of his great-uncle Eleazar Kallir, whose Chavat Yair heChadash he edited (Prague 1792) in order to improve his financial situation [80/4].

[80/3] Frankl-Gruen, Geschichte der Juden in Ungarisch-Brod, p. 23.

[80/4] [Hebrew quotation from preface to Chavat Yair heChadash not translated; continuation on p. 81:] On the title page, he is also mentioned as editor. At the beginning there is Eize Divrei Tora. K. himself did not try to profit from his work as an author. On the contrary, he offered his manuscripts for print free of charge and was even willing to order books worth 100 ducats; cf. the announcement in the above-mentioned work.

[d] According to Otzar haRabbanim, he became rabbi in Lackenbach in 1770 [OR 18740].

[p. 81]
7. Chava, the daughter of MaHaraM A"Sh, was probably born in Eisenstadt in c. 1722. Her first husband was Eleazar [OR2841], a grandson of the Mattersdorf rabbi of the same name, the second Wolf Helen, a descendant of the famous Salomon Luria (MaHaRShaL). The son by the first marriage, Eleazar Kallir [OR 2906, "Kalin"], was born in c. 1739 after the death of his father, who died before the end of his 20th year; he spent his first five years in his grandfather's house, and after the MaHaRaSh's death he found in his stepfather a benevolent man who acted as a father to him. Undoubtedly Eleazar Kallir was the most important of Meir b. Isaac's descendants. He was a keen dialectical thinker, a brilliant speaker and in contrast to so many authorities of the old school his style was clear and transparent. At an early age, he became rabbi in Zabludow in Lithuania; from there, he went to Rechnitz in his native Hungary, where he stayed almost 13 years. In 1778, he was simultaneously offered posts in Vishnitz, Boskovitz and Kolin. He chose Kolin, where he stayed until his death on 15 Cheshvan [5]562 = 22 October 1801, refusing an offer from Altofen [Budapest] in 1788 [81/1].

He wrote Or Chadash on the Tora and the five Megillot (which he published in 1766 in Fuerth, together with his grandfather's Kutnot Or, under the title Meorei A"Sh [81/2]), Or Chadash on the Talmud tractates Pessachim and Kiddushin in two volumes that were reprinted several times as well as a collection of homilies, Chovat Yair Chadash, Prague 1792. A posthumous work, Cheker Halacha was edited by his son Alexander Suesskind Kallir and his great-grandson Eleazar Horwitz in 1838 (Vienna: Anton Strauss' widow).

[p. 82] The book deals with halachic topics and contains part of the scholarly correspondence, answers to questions that were addressed to him. He corresponded also with Yechezkel Landau [82/1] and Zvi Hirsch Zamosc [82/2].

I know of his approbations for: Eretz Tzvi, Prague 1786; Beit Aharon, Sulzbach 1786; Binyan Shlomo, Sklow 1789; Maamar Mordechai, Brno 1790; Amudei Shittim, Prague 1791; responsa Yaalat Chen Prague 1793; Divrei haTanaugim, Prague 1794; Chok leYisrael, Prague 1798; Taam haMelech, Brno 1801.

The only son of Eleazar was Alexander Suesskind [OR 5723, "Siskind Rokeach"], the progenitor of the famous Kallir family in Brody. In his youth, he pursued learned studies [82/3]; later, he became a merchant. Alexander Kallir died in 1845. Alexander's son Mayer was president of the Brody Chamber of Commerce and corresponding member of the Imperial Institute of Geology. In 1868, he received hereditary nobility. For some time, he represented his hometown (whose Honorary Citizen he was) in the Landtag [regional parliament]. He died on 1 June 1875 at the age of 86; cf. the necrology in Israelitische Wochenschrift 1875, pp. 227-228, reprinted from the Lemberg Israelit.

Nathan von Kallir, Mayer's son, was likewise president of the Chamber of Commerce. His hometown, which he represented in the Imperial Council, awarded him the title of Honorary Citizen, too. He died childless in Vienna in 1886.

Another of Alexander Kallir's sons, Lazar (named after his grandfather), died in 1861 at the age of 59; cf. Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums 1861, p. 167.

Moses Kallir, a brother of Mayer and Lazar, was born in Brody in 1806 and died in Vienna in 1889. His daughter Klara [Chaja], who died in Vienna in 1909, was the wife of Fischel Landau, who died there in 1920 and had been awarded the Honorary Citizenship of Brody as early as 1868.

[p.83] From them are descended: Dr. Alfred Landau [b. Brody 1850, d. Vienna 1935], folklorist and philologist, perhaps the greatest expert on the Jewish-German dialect; Adele Mises [earlier Edle von Mises] [f], Alexander Landau and Fannie Lourie. All of Eleazar Kallir's daughters were married to scholars who contributed to the works of their father-in-law. One of them was David Joshua Heschel [OR 5153], son of Zvi Hirsch Horowitz and grandson of Pinchas Horowitz, the author of HaPelea [?]. A grandson of David Joshua Heschel Horowitz was Lazar Horwitz, who died as a rabbi in Vienna on 11 June 1868. Another son-in-law of Kallir was Moses [OR 14816], the son of the Eisenstadt rabbi Michael b. Asher Lemmel haLevi Glogau (cf. No. 594) [OR 9261].

[81/1] Cf. preface to Chovat Yair Chadash. Biographical and genealogical data can also be found in the other works and in the prefaces by the editors of Cheker Halacha. A biography of Kallir was published by Reich, Beth El II, pp. 286-296.

[81/2] Cf. above, p. 76. The title Meorei A"Sh alludes to the name Meir and to Eisenstadt (A"Sh).

[82/1] Cf. the reference to Noda biYehuda [g] in Schwartz, Shem haGedolim meEretz haNer [?] I, p. 29, No. 179.

[82/2] Responsa Tiferet Tzvi on Even haEzer No. 96; H. calls K. his relative.

[e] According to Otzar haRabbanim, his sons-in-law also included R' Yitzchak, Rosh Beth Din in Slonim [OR 10398], R' Yitzchak Fraenkel [sp?] [OR 10942] and R' Yekuthiel Salman of Kletzk [OR 11551].

[f] Philo-Lexikon (Berlin 1936) has an entry for Richard Edler von Mises, b. Vienna 1883, mathematician, professor in Berlin, from 1933 in Istanbul.

[g] R' Yechezkel (haLevi) Landau [OR 9054] was also known by the title of his collection of responsa, Noda biYehuda. According to The Early Acharonim, he was a descendant of R' [Abraham] Yehoshua Heschel of Cracow (b. Brisk, d. Cracow 1663). According to Philo-Lexikon, R' Yechezkel Landau was born in Opatow in 1713 and died in Prague in 1793; he fought both against Sabbatianism (Eibenschuetz) and against the German Enlightenment [Moses Mendelssohn's German translation of the Tora]. BTW, his grandson Israel Jona b. Joseph haLevi Landau [OR 12212a] was rabbi in Kempen/Posen, where he died in 1824. The community was divided about who should succeed him (Irene Newhouse's ancestor David Honigmann mentions this in his memoirs). At that time, the Rosh Beth Din in Kempen was R' David Mugdan (1757/58-1828, a brother of my 4g-grandfather) [OR 4903], and R' Akiva Eger wrote him a letter asking him to support R' Israel Jona's son Joseph Shmuel Landau [OR 9000]. R' Joseph Shmuel did succeed his father, but died in 1836 at the age of 37.

8. Breindl, who died in Eisenstadt in 1748; cf. the text of the gravestone inscription, p. 48, No. 181 and the comment in the German part. The names of her father and her husband are now missing on the partially weathered stone. The source is the death register, where she is called "Breindel Jafe, daughter of the Gaon MaHaRaM A"Sh".

On the genealogy of Meir b. Isaac, cf. also Eisenstadt, Da'at Kedoshim, pp. 187-198. Since some of the dates are incorrect, his information must be used with care.

[g] According to Otzar haRabbanim, the MaHaRaM A"Sh had three further sons:
Jacob [OR 9482] was rabbi in Eisenstadt (1730-1784);
Moshe [OR 14449] was rabbi in Mir (1740), as was his son Zvi Hirsch [OR 17182];
Zvi [OR 17180].

R' Zvi A"Sh [OR 17180] is described as the son-in-law of R' Eleazar [OR 2841] (i.e. his sister's husband) and as the father of R' Aharon A"Sh [OR 1498], but the entries 2841 and 1498 refer back to R' Michael's son Zvi Hirsch A"Sh [OR 17181] (cf. note [b] above). Otzar haRabbanim also lists several other members of the Eisenstadt family.

Addendum by B. Kouchel--
i.) Loebschitz [sp?] = Lubtch/Lyubcha, Belarus
ii.) Rosinai [sp?] = Ruzhany, Belarus.

Israel Tuvia Eisenstadt born Ruzhany, wrote Da'at Kedoshim (1898), based on a blood libel incident that took place there in 1660. The book is a major source of rabbinic families, including Eisenstadt (pp187-198). See bibliography at: http://www.jewishgen.org/Rabbinic/infofiles/biblio5.htm

Bernard Israelite Kouchel has been researching his ancestry since 1988. He is the founder of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and past director and special projects manager at JewishGen. He lectures and writes about genealogy. This article is a translation he commissioned to fill in gaps in his Eisenstadt genealogy. He may be reached by email at bkouchel@jgsbc.org.