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Kramer, Moses ben David, of Vilna


KRAMER, MOSES BEN DAVID, OF VILNA (d. 1688), talmudist and rabbinic leader. Kramer was born in Cracow. He was called Kramer (shopkeeper) because he obtained his livelihood from a shop managed by his wife, refusing to accept a salary from the community. After serving for a time as dayyan in Brest-Litovsk, he was appointed as head of the Vilna bet din in 1673. He was regarded as one of the main Jewish spokesmen of his time and participated in the meetings of the *Council of Four Lands. His name appears among the signatories to the resolutions adopted at the "assembly of Selts," at the "assembly of Leaders," and, together with other Lithuanian rabbis, at the "assembly of Khomsk." Kramer was an erudite scholar but no works written by him are known. However his son-in-law, Joseph b. Jacob of Pinczow, included some of his statements in his Rosh Yosef (Amsterdam, 1707). In the introduction he states, "I have included many things which I myself heard from my father-in-law, Moses. As is well known he excelled in many directions, both in the revealed law and in esoteric lore. He would almost seem to have been divinely inspired and wondrous deeds were accomplished by him…. He directed great yeshivot." His extant statements indeed reveal brilliance and profundity. Many of his novellae are quoted in the Derash Shemu'el of Samuel Feibush (Duerenfurth, 1694). Many great scholars and leaders of Vilna were descended from him, including Elijah of Vilna.


S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (19152), 102–3; Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 1 (1888), 71; H.N. Maggid-Steinschneider, Ir Vilna (1900), 9–11.

[Abram Juda Goldrat]

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