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Maisel, Elijah Ḥayyim


MAISEL, ELIJAH ḤAYYIM (1821–1912), Polish talmudist and rabbinic leader. Maisel studied at Volozhin and at the age of 20 was appointed rabbi of Gorodok. After serving for two years, he resigned the office, devoting the next ten years to study. After serving as rabbi in a number of small communities, he was appointed to the important rabbinate of Lomza, and then in 1874 to the even more important one of Lodz. He was an erudite scholar, with a great understanding of and sympathy for humanity. Though a Mitnagged, he was loved by the people of Lodz, most of whom were Ḥasidim. He was a firm and fearless leader, taking an active part in all the community's philanthropic and religious institutions, to assist which he devoted most of his income. When they lacked money, he would borrow and himself guarantee the repayment. If the wealthy members of the community refused to meet these debts, he changed his post, making it a condition that the new town paid his charitable debts in his old community. On one occasion the community of Bialystok offered to pay his debts in Lodz. However, not wishing to lose him, the community of Lodz immediately paid the debts. He kept open house and none who came for help was turned away empty-handed. Though lenient to others in personal religious matters, he strove with all his energies to prevent the breakdown of public religious life. He once stood on the Sabbath at the entrance of a Jewish shop until its owner promised to keep it closed in future.


O. Feuchtwanger, Righteous Lives (1965), 12–15.

[Mordechai Hacohen]

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