Ephraim Solomon ben Aaron of Luntshits

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EPHRAIM SOLOMON BEN AARON OF LUNTSHITS

EPHRAIM SOLOMON BEN AARON OF LUNTSHITS (Leczyca ; 1550–1619), rabbi and renowned preacher. He was known as "Ephraim of Luntshits," the popular pronunciation of Leczyca among Polish Jews. The name "Solomon" was added some time after 1601. In his youth Ephraim was sent to study in the yeshivah of Solomon *Luria. At an early age he had already gained a reputation as a preacher, in which capacity he traveled to Lublin, Lemberg, Jaroslaw, and other towns. It is not known whether he ever held a regular communal post before he became head of a yeshivah in Lemberg when he was already past fifty. In 1604, he arrived in Prague where he served as president of the rabbinical court and head of the yeshivah, but he relinquished his rabbinical post in the last year of his life. As a preacher he was distinguished for his lucid and fascinating sermons. He addressed the heads of the *Council of Four Lands when they met in Lublin and was apparently on friendly terms with the leaders of that council on whose recommendation he was appointed rosh yeshivah in Lemberg. Ephraim's sermons shed much light on the religious and communal life of the Polish-Jewish community of his time. He railed against the wealthy members of the congregation whose passion for money and luxury caused them to withhold assistance from their needy brethren and he criticized their pretensions to spiritual and religious status on the basis of their commercial success. He said that wealth corrupts and destroys the character of men when they do not appreciate its purpose. At the same time, he complained about the poor who wished to enjoy the charity of the rich without making any effort to provide for their needs. In addition, he attacked certain casuistic methods of talmudic study (pilpul) which often neglected the truth, and the desire for personal aggrandizement among communal leaders.

Ephraim's sermons were collected and published in various books: Ir Gibborim (Basle, 1580); Olelot Efrayim (Lublin, 1590); Oraḥ le-Ḥayyim (ibid., 1595); Keli Yakar (ibid., 1602), commentary on the Pentateuch in homiletic style that was subsequently included in various editions of the rabbinical Bible (Mikra'ot Gedolot); Siftei Da'at (Prague, 1610); Ammudei Shesh (ibid., 1617); Petiḥot u-She'arim (Zolkiew, 1799). He also compiled a book of sermons entitled Rivevot Efrayim, which is occasionally mentioned in his other works. He composed three seliḥot in connection with the invasion of Prague in 1611 by the army of the bishop of Passau.

bibliography:

M. Gruenwald, Rabbi Salomo Efraim Luntschitz (Ger., 1892); I. Bettan, Studies in Jewish Preaching (1939), 273–316; idem, in: huca, 8–9 (1931/32), 443–80; Halpern, Pinkas, 607, index; H.H. Ben-Sasson, Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), 263, index; idem, in: Zion, 19 (1954), 142–66; H.R. Rabinowitz, Deyokena'ot shel Darshanim (1967), 137–49; G. Klemperer, in: hj, 12 (1950), 38ff.

[Abraham David]