Epstein, Kalonymus Kalman of Cracow

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EPSTEIN, KALONYMUS KALMAN OF CRACOW (d. 1823), ḥasidic ẓaddik. A disciple of *Elimelech of Lyzhansk and *Jacob Isaac ha-Ḥozeh ("the Seer") of Lublin, he became noted for the ecstatic mode of prayer he adopted. In 1785 he organized groups of Ḥasidim in Cracow, and arranged minyanim where they prayed with devekut ("devotion") employing pronounced bodily movements. They were strongly opposed by the Cracow community, this opposition resulting in excommunications issued by Isaac Ha-Levi of Cracow and his bet din in 1786 and 1787. Epstein, however, withstood his opponents and actively propagated Ḥasidism throughout western Galicia. His main work, Ma'or va-Shemesh (Breslau, 1842), a commentary on the Pentateuch, is one of the fundamental works of Ḥasidism, and includes information on the activities and the personalities of ẓaddikim. It was published in many editions. His son, Aaron (d. 1883), succeeded Epstein as the leading propagator of Ḥasidism in western Galicia and founded the first kloiz (ḥasidic synagogue) in Cracow, called after him R. Aaron's kloiz. Another son, Joseph Baruch of Neustadt (d. 1867), became known as a miracle worker. He was known as "the good Jew" of Neustadt, for the simplicity of his life and conduct.


A. Markus, Ha-Ḥasidut (1954), index; B. Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron (1969), 39–45, 95; A. Bauminger, in: Sefer Kraka (1959), 33; M.S. Geshuri, ibid., 167–8; L. Grossman, Shem u-She'erit (1943), 65; Dubnow, Ḥasidut, 167–8, 450–2.

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Epstein, Kalonymus Kalman of Cracow

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