Heller, Aryeh Leib ben Joseph Ha-Kohen of Stry

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HELLER, ARYEH LEIB BEN JOSEPH HA-KOHEN OF STRY

HELLER, ARYEH LEIB BEN JOSEPH HA-KOHEN OF STRY (1745?–1813), Galician rabbi, a descendant of Yom Tov Lipmann *Heller. Heller was born in Kalisz, and studied under Meshullam Igra of Pressburg. In his youth he served as rabbi of the small town of Rozhnyatov, Galicia, where he lived in poverty, and there he wrote his works. He went from there to Lemberg where he was a teacher of Talmud. The publication of his Keẓot ha-Ḥoshen brought him fame, and in 1788 he was elected rabbi of Stry (Pol. Stryi), where he established a large yeshivah. Stry was a center of Ḥasidism, and although Heller violently opposed the Ḥasidim, the ḥasidic rabbis themselves held him in great esteem and referred to him as a "prince of the Torah." The dayyan David ha-Kohen attacked him and even published a work Ahavat David vi-Yhonatan in criticism of the Keẓot ha-Ḥoshen but the work had no repercussions.

Heller's Keẓot ha-Ḥoshen (2 pts., Lemberg, 1788–96), on the Shulḥan Arukh, Ḥoshen Mishpat, was acclaimed by scholars and students of yeshivot with unusual enthusiasm as soon as it appeared and to the present day is regarded as a classic work of halakhic pilpul. Jacob Lorbeerbaum, one of the important posekim of his generation, devoted a considerable portion of his Netivot ha-Mishpat (Zolkiew, 1809–16) to a polemic with Heller. Heller replied to the criticisms in a special work, Meshovev Netivot. Heller died before he completed the work, which covers only chapters 1–133 of the Ḥoshen Mishpat. As a result of this profound work Lorberbaum made considerable changes and additions to his work, even though he does not mention the name of his opponent. Beside Lorberbaum many other well-known contemporary rabbis discussed the Keẓot in their own works, which in itself is an unusual phenomenon. Heller's other works were also enthusiastically received by scholars: Avnei Millu'im (Lemberg, 1816) on the Shulḥan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer, and the Shev Shemateta (ibid., 1804), an examination and clarification of the laws concerning cases which involve doubt. All his works have gone through many editions and all still serve as a cornerstone of the method of Torah learning in the yeshivot, despite the radical changes in method effected in the Lithuanian yeshivot by Ḥayyim *Soloveichik. These three works may therefore be regarded as classics in the accepted sense of the word. It is worthy of note that his method of study gained adherents both in Poland and Lithuania despite the difference in method in both places. The Keẓot combines great acumen with logical reasoning, and is distinguished by its scintillating analysis, and its emphasis on the inner logic of the halakhah. Specially worthy of note are the introductions which Heller wrote to his works, particularly that to his Shev Shematata. It freely combines sound logic, extensive erudition, and a profound acumen in its explanation of aggadic topics and ideas and morals. Heller had three sons: david, who published the Shev Shematata; joseph dov, rabbi of Weicislaw; and hirsch, who was rabbi of Uzhgorod. His son-in-law Solomon Judah *Rapoport (Shir), edited Heller's later works, prepared them for publication, provided them with indices, and attached his own comments. Heller's brothers, whom he mentions frequently in his works, were also outstanding talmudists. His brother Judah *Heller appended to the Keẓot ha-Ḥoshen his Kunteres ha-Sefekot.

bibliography:

A. Stern, Meliẓei Esh al Ḥodshei Tishri u-Marẓeshvan (1933), 95b, no. 235; H. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 246–52; J.A. Kamelhar, Dor De'ah (19532), 126–9; Sefer Stry (1962), 32, 111; S. Raz, in: Shanah be-Shanah (1963), 515–9; N. Ben-Menahem, Mi-Sifrut Yisrael be-Ungaryah (1958), 295–329.

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