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Berechiah Berakh ben Eliakim Getzel

BERECHIAH BERAKH BEN ELIAKIM GETZEL

BERECHIAH BERAKH BEN ELIAKIM GETZEL (c. 1670–1740), rabbi and author. Born in Cracow, Berechiah Berakh served as a rabbi in Klementow and later as a preacher in Yaworow (Yavorov). The leader of Polish Jewry, Abraham Isaac *Fortis (Ḥazak), allowed him to preach in every place without previously obtaining the permission of the local rabbi. His eloquent sermons belong to the end of the period of the Council of Four Lands. He spoke out against the low moral standards prevailing in the upper strata of Polish Jewry in the first half of the 18th century. He criticized rabbis who took gifts from the parents of their pupils, judges who accepted remuneration beyond that permitted by law, and preachers and communal leaders who accepted gifts in return for their efforts. He also criticized the practice of lending money at interest. His outspokenness earned him many opponents. Isaac Eisik of Szydlowiec withdrew an approbation he had given to Berechiah's book of responsa when he learned that the latter, whose words were misinterpreted, prohibited a certain marriage permitted by Solomon *Luria. As a result, the above-mentioned book, together with four others on which Berechiah had labored for more than 22 years, was forcibly taken from him and he had to flee. Only a small part of his works (on the Pentateuch, Psalms, Talmud, and Turim) survived, and was published by Berechiah in two volumes, entitled Zera Berakh as a supplement in two parts to the work of the same name in two volumes by his grandfather *Berechiah Berakh b. Isaac Eisik. The first consists of explanations and homilies to Genesis (Halle, 1714), and the second of novellae to the tractate, Berakhot (Frankfurt on the Oder, 1731). A commentary on the Pentateuch, Zera Berakh, part 4 (mentioned ibid., part 3) has remained in manuscript.

bibliography:

Michael, Or, 299, no. 647; H.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 (1893), 50a–52b; Halpern, Pinkas, 477–9; A. Yaari, Meḥkerei Sefer (1958), 445–9.

[Samuel Abba Horodezky]

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