A Bit of Maharal


R' Yehuda Loewe, also known as The Maharal [acronym of Moreinu HaRav Yehuda Loewe] was born around the year 1526, probably in the city of Posen. His father, R Betzalel Loewe, was a grandson of the famous R' Loewe the Elder of Prague, and the family traced its lineage back to King David.

The Maharal received his education from his father, from sages in his generation, and, in a great deal, from his own intense study.

The Maharal began his rabbinic career in Nikolsburg, Moravia (Czechoslovakia) in 1553. Eventually he was to become the chief Rabbi of all Moravia. From that position, he enacted many laws that strengthened the spiritual and physical plight of the Jews of that region.

In 1573 he left Nikolsburg and moved to Prague where he opened a yeshiva and taught numerous disciples. The Maharal stressed the study of Mishnah and initiated Mishnah study groups throughout Prague. R' Yom Tov Lipman, author of the Tosfos Yom Tov commentary to the Mishnah, was one of his students.

In Prague, the Maharal published many of his manuscripts. After publishing his first book, Gevuras Hashem, in 1582, he published Derech Chaim (a commentary on Tractate Avos), in 1589; Tiferes Yisroel (on the giving of the Torah), in 1593; Netzach Yisroel (on the rewards of the world to come and the Messianic era), in 1599 - as well as many other books.

A complete rendition of his works was published in 1972, in Jerusalem, and is currently available in Jewish bookstores.

A new and extensively footnoted edition is in the midst of being written by Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman (Hakablan St. 28/3, Har Nof, Jerusalem) and published by the Machon Yerushalayim Printing House.

This weekly column will focus on two of the Maharal's books: Tiferes Yisroel and Gevuras Hashem. It will attempt to present one of the author's unique and deep ideas in a crisp, albeit condensed, manner. Readers are invited to study the original text of the Maharal (whose location will be noted in each column) to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the point at hand.

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This week's Bit of Maharal