Eisenstadt, Abraham Ẓevi Hirsch ben Jacob

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EISENSTADT, ABRAHAM ẒEVI HIRSCH BEN JACOB

EISENSTADT, ABRAHAM ẒEVI HIRSCH BEN JACOB (1813–1868), halakhic authority. Eisenstadt, who was born in Bialystok, was appointed rabbi of Berestovitsa, district of Grodno, in 1836, and of Utina (Uttian), district of Kovno, in 1856. Eisenstadt took upon himself the task of collecting and digesting the enormous amount of halakhic material scattered throughout the responsa literature, and relating it to the relevant laws in Caro's Shulhan Arukh, publishing his digest in Pitḥei Teshuvah. At the end of his introduction to Even ha-Ezer he enumerates 180 volumes of responsa and other works that he used. In the introduction he explains that the purpose of his book is to supply a missing link in the chain of posek literature, namely, the decisions to be found in responsa. In addition to establishing the halakhah he also gives the reasons and the essence of the arguments in the different responsa. This enabled rabbis to give decisions on matters and problems which had arisen as a result of changed conditions since Caro's code had appeared. Eisenstadt regarded the literature dealing with Even ha-Ezer as of supreme importance, as he believed that it was impossible to come to a practical decision on any of the laws discussed in it by relying upon the original text. As a result, his work on this section of the Shulḥan Arukh is very detailed. Since the Sha'arei Teshuvah (Dubnow, 1820), begun by Ḥayyim Mordecai Margolioth of Dubnow and completed by his brother Ephraim Zalman *Margolioth, already met this need with regard to the Oraḥ Ḥayyim, Eisenstadt confined himself to the other three sections of the Shulḥan Arukh. His own novellae on the Shulḥan Arukh are highly regarded by halakhists.

Pitḥei Teshuvah on Yoreh De'ah and Even ha-Ezer was published during Eisenstadt's lifetime (1836 and 1861) and on Hoshen Mishpat (1875) after his death. He also published Seder Gittin va-Ḥaliẓah by Michael b. Joseph of Cracow accompanied by his own commentary and glosses, also entitled Pitḥei Teshuvah (1863), in which he gave the sources of the book in the Shulḥan Arukh and among the rishonim and aḥaronim. Many of his responsa appear in the works of contemporary rabbis. Eisenstadt died in Koenigsberg where he had gone for medical treatment. His son benjamin (1846–1920) was appointed to succeed him in Utina after his death, and served in this post for 52 years. He was the author of Masot Binyamin (1921), talmudic novellae. Benjamin's son abraham Ẓevi (1871–1939) succeeded his father in Utina and served there for 19 years. He was one of the early Zionists. Leon *Rabinovich, editor of Ha-Meliẓ, was also a grandson of Abraham Ẓevi Hirsch Eisenstadt.

bibliography:

S.M. Chones, Toledot ha-Posekim (1910), 502; H. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 313, 325–30; Yahadut Lita, 1 (1959), 256f.; 3 (1967), 26.

[Shmuel Ashkenazi]