Samuel ben Kalonymus He-Ḥasid ("The Pious") of Speyer

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SAMUEL BEN KALONYMUS HE-ḤASID ("The Pious") OF SPEYER

SAMUEL BEN KALONYMUS HE-ḤASID ("The Pious ") OF SPEYER (12th century), one of the first leaders of the *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz movement and a member of the most important Jewish family in medieval Germany. His father moved from Mainz to Speyer after the persecutions of 1096 and Samuel was born there. Nothing is known of his life, and very few of his writings have survived. It seems that he wrote some exegetical works on the Torah and the Midrash. However, only a few quotations in later works have survived. He undoubtedly studied esoteric theology, and probably even wrote in this field. The titles, "the Pious, the Saint, and the Prophet" by which he was known to later generations, seem to indicate that he was regarded as a mystic. He contributed to the authorship of Sefer Ḥasidim. It has been proved that he wrote the first part of the book (in the Parma Ms. version), which deals with the fear of God and the subject of repentance. It is probable that some other sections of that book are his, and were included in it by its main author, his son *Judah he-Ḥasid. Hebrew and Yiddish collections of stories of the 15th and 16th centuries incorporate many tales of his magical powers. According to these, he competed against gentile magicians and used his powers to save Jews from their oppressors. Such stories were also told about his son Judah. Though knowledge of Samuel's work is extremely limited, there is no doubt that he served as a creative link between the oral traditions of the Kalonymus family in the fields of ethics, theology, and mysticism, and the literature of the Ḥasidei Ashkenaz movement which developed in the late 12th and the 13th centuries. The Ḥasidim regarded Samuel as their earliest leader and the movement reached its peak under the leadership of his son Judah he-Ḥasid. Another son, Abraham, was one of the leading halakhic scholars of his generation.

bibliography:

A. Epstein, in: Ha-Goren, 4 (1903), 81–101 (reprinted in his collected writings, part 1 (1950), 247–68); I.A. Kamelhar, Ḥasidim ha-Rishonim (1917), 27–32; Y. Dan, Torat ha-Sod shel Ḥasidei Ashkenaz (1968), 47–50.

[Joseph Dan]