Isaiah Menahem ben Isaac

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ISAIAH MENAHEM BEN ISAAC (d. 1599), rabbi in Poland. In accordance with the custom prevalent in his time, his father-in-law's name was added to his and he was referred to as "Mendel [Menahem] Avigdors." Isaiah Menahem was one of the chief spokesmen of the *Council of Four Lands. He served as rabbi of Praga (a suburb of Warsaw), head of the yeshivah of Szczebrzeszyn, rabbi of Lodomeria, and in 1591 succeeded *Meir of Lublin as rabbi of Cracow. While rabbi of Lodomeria, he drew up a new formula for the hetter iska (permitting the lending of money on interest), which was opposed by Mordecai *Jaffe and Joshua *Falk. As a result, when he became rabbi of Cracow, he amended the formula. This amended formula, known as Shetar Hetter Iska ke-Tikkun Muram (Morenu Rav Mendel), was wrongly attributed to Moses *Isserles. In his Naḥalat Shivah, *Samuel b. David ha-Levi defends the formula and highly praises Isaiah Menahem. Isaiah Menahem was among the signatories of the takkanah adopted by the Council of Four Lands at Lublin in 1587, prohibiting anyone from acquiring rabbinic office by payment or other unjust means. He is referred to in the responsa Baḥ of Joel *Sirkes (no. 77) and in the Matenat Kehunnah on the Midrash Rabbah (Lev. R. 2) of Issacher Ashkenazi who acknowledges his indebtedness to him for the explanation of a certain passage. Together with his son Moses he wrote notes to the Ammudei ha-Golah of *Isaac of Corbeil which were published with the text (Cracow, 1596). He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch (Be'urim Kabbedu ha-Shem, Cracow, 1604). One of his piyyutim was published in the Ḥag ha-Pesaḥ of J. Kitzingen (Cracow, c. 1597).


A. Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, 1 (1864), 486 no. 52; J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-ẓedek (1874), 45–49; Azulai, 1 (1905), 214 no. 118 (Pelelat Soferim); H.D. (B.) Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron; Halpern, Pinkas, 6, 8, 63, 74.

[Abram Juda Goldrat]