Wesel, Baruch Bendet ben Reuben

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WESEL, BARUCH BENDET BEN REUBEN (also called Benedict Reuben Gomperz ; d. c. 1753), German rabbi and author. Baruch Benedict was called Wesel after the town where he was born. He was a member of the distinguished *Gomperz family of Germany and western Europe. His grandfather, Elijah Gomperz, was a Court Jew of Frederick William i of Prussia and through his influence greatly assisted his coreligionists. His father was a wealthy Berlin merchant. In 1724 Wesel was appointed one of the three members of the Breslau bet din and wrote a commendation for the Sha'arei Tefillah of Solomon Zalman Hanau. In 1728 the *Council of Four Lands appointed him rabbi of the Polish community in Breslau. That same year he wrote a commendation for the printing of the Pentateuch in Dyhernfurth. He inherited a considerable fortune from his father, engaged in business, and did not take a salary from the community. Unsuccessful management of his business affairs, however, led to his financial ruin, and in 1733 the community reinstated his salary. He subsequently applied to be exempted from the high taxes imposed upon wholesale merchants and to be transferred to the category of second-class taxpayers. His application was rejected, however, and he was imprisoned, compelled to pay, and deprived of the title rabbi. He was expelled from Breslau in 1738, but was permitted to take up residence in the neighboring villages. When Frederick ii conquered Silesia in 1740, Wesel sent him a laudatory poem in Hebrew and German, written as an acrostic of his name, and Frederick noted this. Subsequently, in 1744, when 12 Polish-Jewish families were granted a permanent permit to live in Breslau, and when a special privilege was granted to Polish merchants, Wesel was elected chief rabbi of Breslau, and the Prussian government recognized him and his community. The same order also permitted the Jews to establish a cemetery in Breslau (previously they had to use the cemetery of Dyhernfurth). Wesel suggested that the funds for the cemetery and for taxes generally be raised from a special tax imposed on meat. However, he did not live long enough to consecrate the cemetery, and he himself was buried in Dyhernfurth. Ten of his responsa were published in 1745 under the title Mekor Barukh and republished with additions by his son in 1771.


D. Weinryb, in: Tarbiz, 9 (1938), 65ff., 85; M. Brann, in: Jubelschrift … Graetz (1887), 229, 237ff.; idem, in: Festschrift … J. Guttmann (1915), 237; Halpern, Pinkas, 474.

[Itzhak Alfassi]