Berechiah Berakh ben Isaac Eisik

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BERECHIAH BERAKH BEN ISAAC EISIK (d. 1663), called "the Elder" in differentiation from his grandson *Berechiah Berakh b. Eliakim Getzel; rabbinical scholar, dayyan, and preacher in Cracow; his father-in-law was Yom Tov Lipmann *Heller. Berechiah studied under the kabbalist Nathan Shapiro, and became a dayyan of the bet din of Joshua Hoeschel of Cracow. He officiated as chief preacher to the community in Cracow, belonging to a category of preachers held in high esteem. His sermons were published under the title Zera Berakh in two parts: the first (Cracow, 1646) includes Berechiah's exposition of Genesis, concluding with the portion Masei, and the second (1662) completes the commentary to the end of Deuteronomy and includes sermons on the Five Scrolls and the Passover Haggadah. His commentaries are not only representative of homiletics in 17th-century Poland-Lithuania, but provide wide-ranging disquisitions on central problems of Jewish society, such as the causes of the Chmielnicki massacres in 1648–49. He also composed a special elegy, entitled "El Male Raḥamim," on the martyr's death suffered by *Mattathias in Cracow in 1663, which was introduced into the Cracow liturgy. Berechiah died in Constantinople on his way to Ereẓ Israel.


H.H. Ben-Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), index.

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Berechiah Berakh ben Isaac Eisik

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