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Pineles, Hirsch Mendel ben Solomon


PINELES, HIRSCH MENDEL BEN SOLOMON (known as "Shalosh " from the last (Hebrew) letters of his name, Hirsch Mendel Pineles ; 1806–1870), Galician scholar and writer. Pineles settled in Brody and joined the circle of young maskilim who gathered round Nachman *Krochmal. He perfected his German, and began to educate himself in philosophy, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and astronomy, specializing in mathematics and the calculation of the Jewish calendar. In 1853 he moved to Odessa, and in 1855 to Galati in Romania, where he lived until his death. He was an active member of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle and involved in its program in Romania.

Pineles began his literary career with a letter to Krochmal in 1836 published in Kerem Ḥemed (2 (1936), 108–113). He wrote the first critical article on Krochmal's Moreh Nevukhei ha-Zeman (in: He-Ḥalutz, 1 (1852), 123–4); and he published critical book reviews as well as numerous articles on a variety of subjects in Kerem Ḥemed (2 (1936), 125–9, 168–71), in Ha-Maggid (8–11 (1864–67)), Yeshurun, and elsewhere. For about 30 years he engaged in a fierce controversy with Ḥ.S. *Slonimsky on the method of calculating the Jewish calendar (see Kerem Ḥemed, 8 (1854), 27–37, 85–109).

Pineles is best known for his Darkah shel Torah (Vienna, 1861), a critical examination in 178 sections of the Mishnah and its interpretation, followed by a treatise on the Hebrew calendar including tables. The stated aim of the work was to justify the Oral Law and substantiate the words of the scribes where they deviate from the literal text. Pineles defended the Mishnah both against the authors of the Talmud, who honored it but distorted its plain meaning, and against the detractors of the Talmud, who attempted to find defects in it and to devalue it. He also sought to explain a number of difficult passages in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. His work is characterized by critical acumen and boldness. Believing that some explanations given by the later amoraim distorted the original Mishnah, he attempted to interpret a number of mishnayot in a new way. His deviations from the traditional explanations of the amoraim were attacked by traditionalists, one of them being his brother-in-law, Moses b. Joel Waldberg, a leading banker in Bucharest (Kakh hi Darkah shel Torah, pt. 1, Lemberg, 1864; pt. 2, Jassy, 1868). Pineles, however, maintained that he had no heretical intent and himself attacked certain scholars for their extreme views – chiefly Abraham *Geiger for his Urschrift und Uebersetzung der Bibel in ihrer Abhaengigkeit von der innern Entwicklung des Judenthums (1857; a review of which is published at the end of Darkah shel Torah) and J.H. *Schorr – stressing his own attachment to tradition (Darkah shel Torah, no. 14, p. 19).


Fuenn, Keneset, 286–8; Lachower, Sifrut, 2 (1929), 191, 311; B. Wachstein, Die hebraeische Publizistik in Wien, 1 (1930), 160–1; N.M. Gelber (ed.), Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael. 6 (1955), 211; Kressel, Leksikon, 613–4.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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