Reb Aisel Harif

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Yehoshua Aisek Shapira, Rabbi

Also Known As: "Aisel Harif", "Eizel Harif", ""Eizel the sharp"", "YEHOSHUA ISAAC SHAPIRA", "Eizel the prodigy from Globok", "Rabbi Aisel Slonimer", ""The Iron Head"", "Chatan Reb Yitzchak Fein", "Eizel Harif SHAPIRA", "JOSHUA ISAAC BEN JEHIEL", "Rav Eizel Charif"
Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Glubki near Vilna
Death: 1873 (72)
Slonim, Hrodna Province, Belarus
Immediate Family:

Son of Yehiel Shapira and Rasha Shapira
Husband of Haya Fine
Father of Issacher Ber Shapira; Moshe Shapira; Nechama Schluper and Mordechai Shapira

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Reb Aisel Harif

Rabbi Yehoshua Aisek Shapira lived in the 19th century and was the great-grandson of Rabbi Luria, the famed Kabbalist of Safed.

Rabbi Aisel Slonimer, as he was known, spent most of his rabbinic life in Slonim, in the Grodno district of Byelorussia, He was called Harif (Sharp) because of his prodigious memory and his sharp tongue. His witticisms and clever retorts are legendary.

Rabbi Aisel wrote many of his major works in Slonim, including Emek Yehoshua and Nahlat Yehoshua which encompass his responsa (questions and answers to problems of his day); Noam Yerushalmi, his commentary and glosses on the Jerusalem Talmud; and Sefat HaNahal and Ibbei HaNahal which contain many of his sermons.

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YEHOSHUA ISAAC SHAPIRA , From Yahadut Lita , volume 3 page 101 by Eilat Gordin Levitan.

Rabbi YEHOSHUA ( Eizel Harif "Eizel the sharp") was the son of Yechiel Shapira. He was born in Glubokie in 1801. His father; Yechiel who was a deeply learned man was the grandson of the writer of "Seder Hadorot".

Already at an early age Yehoshua showed a great promise for learning. By age eight he could read complex texts and his father took upon him to further his sons' education. Soon the father realized that he had no answers to some of the intricate questions that his son asked and he enrolled him in the big Minsk Yeshiva school "Blumka" under the R"M of R' Avraham Dboritzer who was known as a distinct prodigy.

They boy grew up in the Yeshiva and became famous as “Eizel the prodigy from Globok “ He became involved in correspondence and meeting with many Jewish sages of his times in Minsk and in other areas. He was renowned as a genius and received offers from respectful communities to became their rabbi. But his father in law; R’Ytzhak Fein did not want him to leave his house. Finally he took a job in the town of Kalvarija.

He became known as Eizel Harif ("sharp") because he was one of the keenest intellects and most outstanding pilpulists of his day. He was Av. Bet Din successively at Kalvarija, Kutno, Tiktin, and, finally, Slonim. He died in 1873. His keen witticism became commonly used many years after his death.

Left three prominent sons;

  1. Rabbi Berush Shapira , the Rabbi of Ostrov.
  2. Rabbi Moshe Shapira, Rabbi in Vilkomir and Riga. Wrote; “Pnay Moshe” (Vilna 1872), “Birkat Moshe” (Pietrekov 1909) ”Drashot Mha R”M” ( 1900 Pietrekov) and “Emek habacha”
  3. Mordechai Shapira, his third son was politically involved in Jewish causes;

His son in law was Rabbi Yosef, son of Zvi- Hirsh Shlofer. He was known as “the prodigy from Denenburk”(Dwinsk)- The rabbi of Slonim. He wrote “Porat Yosef” (Vilna 1871) and “Markevet Yosef” (Warsaw 1898)

From the internet; R' Yehoshua Isaac Shapiro z"l ("Reb Eizel Charif") R' Eizel was born in 1801 in Glubki, near Vilna, and his first teacher was his father, R' Yechiel. R' Eizel was a child prodigy whose genius was recognized by the age of seven, and he was soon nicknamed, "The Iron Head" (presumably because he never forgot what he learned).

He later earned the nickname "Charif" / "The Sharp One," although he claimed, in his humility, that it was only an acronym of "Chatan Reb Yitzchak Fein" / "son-in-law of R' Yitzchak Fein."

At one point, R' Eizel was a disciple of the chassidic rebbe, R' Aharon of Staroselya (a leading disciple of Chabad's founder, R' Shneur Zalman), but he later became a critic of chassidut. He also studied in the famed Blumke's Kloiz in Minsk, where, it is said, he used to review the entire Talmud every month.

In 1832, R' Eizel was appointed Rosh Yeshiva and Darshan / preacher in Minsk's Kloiz Chevra Kadisha.

R' Eizel received semichah / ordination from R' Abale, the Av Bet Din / Chief rabbinical Judge of Vilna, and through the latter's recommendation was appointed a Dayan / rabbinical judge in Kalvaria, Lithuania.

After 1839, he held rabbinic positions in Kutna and Tiktin.

In 1853, R' Eizel was appointed rabbi of Slonim, the town with which he his associated for posterity. In every town where he served, R' Eizel somehow found time, despite his superhuman schedule of learning and writing, to engage in numerous communal and charitable activities. In addition, many dinei Torah / legal disputes were brought to R' Eizel for resolution, and he was one of the three judges appointed to rule on the dispute involving the leadership of the Volozhin Yeshiva.

R' Eizel's nickname, "Charif," alludes in part to his sharp sense of humor, which he readily used to humble those who he felt needed humbling and to criticize those whose scholarship was not up to par with the standard that he expected of Torah leaders. (Chassidic rebbes were frequent subjects of his witticisms.)

In particular, R' Eizel was adept at making puns or plays on the words of verses and Talmudic statements. R' Eizel died in 1873, leaving 11 works including Emek Yehoshua, Nachalat Yehoshua and a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, Noam Yerushalmi.

Many of his derashot are in the style of the 18th century Parashat Derachim, explaining midrashic stories and actions of biblical figures in halachic terms. All exhibit a wide-ranging knowledge of halachah, midrash and Tanach. (An example will appear in an issue of Hamaayan.) (Gedolei Ha'dorot p. 685) Copyright © 2000 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.The editors hope these brief 'snippets'

Hamaayan

It is true that the Jews committed a very great sin with the golden calf,

but we must nevertheless admit that that generation was better than our own.

They were willing to cast away their gold and silver in order to make

themselves a god, while in our days, people are willing to cast away God, as

it were, in order to make themselves gold and silver.

---R. Eizel Harif (From uahcampus@shamash.org Sat Mar 6 00:04:48 1999 Date: Sat, 6 …)

Tiktin site;

The Rav was Rabbi Yehoshua Isaac Shapiro, known as "Reb Izele Charif," who published eleven sefarim, including the Eimek Yehoshua and Noam Yehoshua. From Tiktin, he went to Slonim and became known as "Reb Izele Slonimer.

"Ikalvarija site;

Eizel Harif SHAPIRA, JOSHUA ISAAC BEN JEHIEL (d. 1873), rabbi and talmudist. Known as Eizel Harif ("sharp") because he was one of the keenest intellects and most outstanding pilpulists of his day. He was Av Bet Din successively at Kalvarija, Kutno, Tiktin, and, finally, Slonim.

Rav Eizel Charif, the Rav of Slonim, felt that one of the town's teachers was not qualified to teach children. He discouraged some of the townsfolk from sending their children to study Torah from this teacher.

When the teacher heard of the Rav's actions he came to complain to him, "Rabbi, you are ruining my livelihood!"

Rav Eizel told the fellow that he would try to find him a job dealing with livestock.

The teacher looked horrified, " But Rabbi, I don't know anything about livestock!"

Rav Eizel responded, "That may be true, but the damage that can be done by improperly teaching young children is a lot worse than the damage you could inflict by not knowing much about the animal trade."

QUESTION: The Midrash comments on the verse "Al Zeh Hayah Daveh Libenu" (Eichah 5:17) the following: "Hashem caused tremendous anguish to a woman, she must count 11 days of Zivah after seven days of Nidah. What does this have to do with the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash, which is the subject of the above verse?

ANSWER: Rav EIZEL CHARIF (Emek Yehoshua, Drush #15) explains that there is a fundamental difference between a Nidah and a Zavah: A Nidah is Tamei for a fixed period of time. As soon as her seven days of Nidah are up she may be Toveles in a Mikvah, regardless of whether or not she bled during those seven days. On the other hand, a Zavah may only be Toveles if she experiences seven consecutive clean days. If she sees blood within these seven days she has to count another period of cleanliness, such that her becoming Tehorah is dependent on more factors than just time. Source:http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/dafyomi2/nidah/

FAMILY TREE

  • Great great Grandfather: Yehiel HEILPERIN, Born: 1660, Minsk, Died: 1746, Minsk

  • Great great Grandmother: Rachel UNKNOWN
  • Great grandfather ( father of paternal Grandmother of Yehoshua) Isaac Asher HEILPERIN , Born: Minsk
  • Paternal Grandfather: Mordechai SHAPIRA, Born: Abt 1750, ( Glubokie)

  • Paternal Grandmother: Unknown HEILPERIN, Born: Minsk
  • Father: Yehiel SHAPIRA Born: Abt 1772 ( Glubokie) . Died: Abt 1840 ( Glubokie)
  • HaRav Harif's Son; Yehoshua Isaac Eisel_harif SHAPIRA , Born: 1801, (Glubokie, now Belarus), Died: 23 Dec 1873, Slonim- now Belarus

  • Son's Spouse: Haya FINE, Born: Abt 1806, Minsk, Belorussia, Died: Slonim
  • Children:
  1. Issahar Dov Ber SHAPIRA Born: 1828, Minsk, Belorussia. Married: Abt 1865, Ostrow. Died: 1902, Ostrow, Poland.
  2. Moshe SHAPIRA Born: 1835, Kalvariya, Lithuania. Died: 23 Dec 1911, Riga.
  3. Mordechai SHAPIRO Born: Abt 1838, Kutno ?, Poland. Died: Slonim, Lithuania.
  4. Nechama SHAPIRA Born: Abt 1840, Slonim, Lithuania. Married: Abt 1858, Slonim. Died: Slonim.

Bibliography;

  • “Emek Yehoshua” (Warsaw 1842),
  • “Drushim”,
  • “Sfat Hanachal”,
  • “Avi Hanachal”
  • “ Noam Yerushalmi’ – four volumes (Vilna 1863- 1866) ‘Ezat Yehoshua” (Vilna 1868) and a few others.

Rabbi Yehoshua Aisek ben Yehiel Shapira, or as he was mor affectionately known, Reb Aisel Harif. Famous in his day as a giant in the world of Torah study as well as for the sharpness of his mind and his tongue, R. Aisels's witticisms and secular sayings still appear from time to time in rabbinic literature, Torah columns and anthologies of Jewish humor.

References:

Rabbi Aisel Harif by Y.L. Levin, Vilna 1918 - Hebrew From the Mouth of R. Aisels, by M. Reitzeson, Slonim 1931, Der Yiddisher Oitzer, by A. Engelshar, Poland and reprinted Bnei Brak 1966 - Yiddish Toldot HaYishuv HaYehudi b'Slonim, by Kalman Lichtenstein, Tel Aviv 1960 - Hebrew

Source

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Rabbi Yehoshua Aisek ben Yehiel Shapira, or as he was mor affectionately known, Reb Aisel Harif. Famous in his day as a giant in the world of Torah study as well as for the sharpness of his mind and his tongue, R. Aisels's witticisms and secular sayings still appear from time to time in rabbinic literature, Torah columns and anthologies of Jewish humor.

References: Rabbi Aisel Harif by Y.L. Levin, Vilna 1918 - Hebrew From the Mouth of R. Aisels, by M. Reitzeson, Slonim 1931, Der Yiddisher Oitzer, by A. Engelshar, Poland and reprinted Bnei Brak 1966 - Yiddish Toldot HaYishuv HaYehudi b'Slonim, by Kalman Lichtenstein, Tel Aviv 1960 - Hebrew

Source

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Reb Aisel Harif's Timeline

1801
1801
Glubki near Vilna
1833
1833
Age 32
1835
1835
Age 34
Riga, Riga, Latvia
1837
1837
Age 36
1837
Age 36
1873
1873
Age 72
Slonim, Hrodna Province, Belarus