Parnas, Ḥayyim Naḥman

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PARNAS, ḤAYYIM NAḤMAN (d. 1854), Lithuanian scholar. Parnas was born in Dubnov. After the death of his first wife, Parnas remarried and settled in Vilna. It was his practice to study wrapped in tallit and tefillin until mid-afternoon each day in his father-in-law's bet ha-midrash and to continue studying for the rest of the day at home. By means of his extraordinary diligence he achieved a mastery of both halakhah and Kabbalah. He delivered daily discourses on Isaac *Alfasi and the commentary on him by Nissim b. Reuben *Gerondi before the leading figures of the community in the bet ha-midrash. In 1850 he established a yeshivah in Vilna. In his prayers he followed the ritual of the "Ari" (Isaac *Luria), and every Sabbath, before the reading of the Law, when the congregation was going over the weekly portion, he studied the Zohar on it.

Parnas took an active interest in communal affairs and was himself widely esteemed. For many years he administered the distribution of Vilna's philanthropic funds, including those for indigent Jews residing in Ereẓ Israel. His approbations appear in a number of contemporary works. The last section of the Sha'agat Aryeh printed in the Slavuta edition (1833) contains some novellae of Parnas which display talmudic erudition. He concerned himself with the needs of the community as a whole and of the individuals in it, and because of his grasp of worldly matters many turned to him for advice on their problems.


S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (1915), 257; Ḥ.N. Maggid-Steinschneider, Ir Vilna (1900), 63, 185; H. Brawermann, Anshei Shem (1892), 36a.

[Samuel Abba Horodezky]