Horowitz, Samuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg

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HOROWITZ, SAMUEL SHMELKE OF NIKOLSBURG

HOROWITZ, SAMUEL SHMELKE OF NIKOLSBURG (1726–1778), rabbi and kabbalist in Poland and Galicia. Samuel was the elder brother of Phinehas b. Ẓevi Hirsch *Horowitz and in their youth both were among the disciples of *Dov Baer the Maggid of Mezhirech. Samuel, who did much to spread Ḥasidism in Poland and Galicia, served as a rabbi in several towns there: Rychwal, 1754, and Sieniawa, 1766; from 1773 he officiated in Nikolsburg (Mikulov), Moravia, first as av bet din and later as rabbi of the province. This last appointment gave rise to bitter opposition, but Empress *Maria Theresa confirmed him in office by virtue of his Ḥasidism and Orthodoxy, "even though he does not know German and is not versed in the laws of the land." Samuel is considered one of the pioneers of Ḥasidism, of whom miraculous stories are related in ḥasidic legend. In fact, however, he did not wholly accept the Ḥasidism taught by *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov. Though he surrounded himself with young scholars and educated them in Ḥasidism, Samuel was an ascetic who remained in his home and kept people at a distance. An undertone of protest against the prevailing atmosphere of folly and levity among the Ḥasidim can be discerned in his teachings. Among his works are Divrei Shemu'el (1862), which contains homiletic and kabbalistic commentaries and novellae on Bava Batra and on the laws on festivals in Oraḥ Ḥayyim; and Nezir ha-Shem (1869), which includes novellae on the Shulhan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer. Samuel took part in the literary controversy over Ḥasidism requesting that the rabbis of Brody refrain from imposing the Vilna ban on Ḥasidism and discount the accusations that Ḥasidim opposed tradition.

bibliography:

Israel of Slutsk, Sefer Vikku'aḥ (1798), 18; A. Walden, in: Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash (1864), 70–71; M. Bieber, Yalkut Menaḥem (1903), 14–18; A.H.S.B. Michaelsohn, Shemen ha-Tov (1905); Dubnow, Ḥasidut, 81, 125; I.Z. Kahana, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 4 (1950), 279–80; D. Feuchtwang, in: Gedenkbuch zur Erinnerung an D. Kaufmann (1900), 380; W. Mueller, Urkundliche Beitraege zur Geschichte der maehrischen Judenschaft (1903), 160; M. Buber, Tales of the Ḥasidim (1964), 182–94; Horodezky, Ḥasidut, index.

[Avraham Rubinstein]