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Worms, Aaron

WORMS, AARON

WORMS, AARON (1754–1836), rabbi in France, born in Geislautern, Saar, son of R. Abraham (Aberle) Joseph. Aaron attended the yeshivah at Metz directed by R. Aryeh Loeb b. Asher *Guenzburg. In 1777 he became rabbi in Kriechingen (Créhange), Lorraine, and in 1785 was appointed dayyan in Metz and principal of its yeshivah. From 1813 he served as deputy rabbi, and from 1831, rabbi of Metz.

Although strictly orthodox, he was sympathetic to those desiring the integration of Jews into gentile society through "improvement of morals." During the French Revolution, he joined the National Guard and served as a member of the *Assembly of Jewish Notables and the Great *Sanhedrin (1806–07), where he expressed the view that the granting of civil rights to the Jews would encourage them to assume added responsibilities toward the state. In the Sanhedrin he gave an address on the relations between Jews and non-Jews according to the Talmud, in which he maintained that the phrase ovedei kokhavim u-mazzalot (idolators) does not apply to the non-Jews of the present time. On the contrary, the Talmud enjoins a spirit of brotherhood between Jews and non-Jews. He also expressed the view that it is preferable to pray in the vernacular and to understand what one is saying than in Hebrew if one could not understand it. For this reason he took no part in the "temple controversy" in Hamburg in 1818/19. Worms also opposed the retention of customs which had their basis in superstitious beliefs, as well as the exaggerated use of piyyutim in the prayers. R. Aaron encouraged the foundation of an educational institution in Metz where children were also taught secular subjects. He urged Jews to learn and practice crafts.

His work Me'orei Or was published anonymously in seven parts, the first three between 1790 and 1793; the last four, published between 1819 and 1831, were entitled Be'er-Sheva, Or la-Mo'ed, Ben Nun, and Ken Tahor. It examines questions of halakhah in the Talmud and Shulḥan Arukh and the origins of minhagim, and elucidates aggadah. Certain sections of the work include a "mahadura batra" ("final rescension") which complements the commentary and notes in the body of the work. He included in his works a considerable number of poetical compositions, piyyutim for festivals, Sabbath songs and hymns, and seliḥot for the High Holydays. He also published a commentary on the Maḥzor and the Passover Haggadah.

bibliography:

A. Cahen, in: rej, 13 (1886), 114, 119–124; N. Bruell, in: Beit Oẓar ha-Sifrut, 1 (1887), 20–31; M. Catane, in: Aresheth, 2 (1960), 190–8; N. Netter, Vingt siècles d'histoire d'une communauté juive (1938), 291–2.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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