Chacham Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi

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Chacham Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi

Hebrew: חכם צבי הירש אשכנזי
Also Known As: "חכם צבי - אבד"ק"
Birthplace: Velké Meziříčí, Moravia, Czechoslovakia
Death: May 01, 1718 (59)
Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), Then Poland (now Ukraine)
Place of Burial: Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), Then Poland (now Ukraine)
Immediate Family:

Son of Rabbi Yaakov ben Binyamin Zak Ashkenazi, of Vilna and Nechama Ashkenazi
Husband of 1st wife Chacham Tzvi Ashkenazi and Sarah Rivka Ashkenazi (Mirels) [Chacham Zvi 2nd wife]
Father of Dau, Chacham Zvi Ashkenazi, ch.#1; Yaakov Israel Emden, s#5; (child) Moshe Ashkenazi, (s#12); child Bat Sheva Ashkenazi, (d #13); Daughter Ashkenazi, (d#15) and 11 others
Brother of Benjamin Wolf Ofner
Half brother of Rachel Emden

Occupation: Spiritual leader, Chacham, Rav & ABD in Salonica, Sarayevo, Altona, Amsterdam, Lwow, Rabbi
Managed by: Yigal Burstein
Last Updated:

About Chacham Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi

Chacham Tzvi. .צבי הירש אשכנזי, חכם צבי

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch ben Yaakov Ashkenazi (b.1656-9?, Moravia (most likely,Velké Meziříčí) - May 2, 1718, Lviv) (Hebrew: צבי הירש בן יעקב אשכנזי‎), known as the Chacham Tzvi (after responsa by the same title), for some time rabbi of Amsterdam, was a resolute opponent of the followers of the false messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.

He had a chequered career, owing to his independence of character. He visited many lands, including England, where he wielded much influence. His writings are known to us mainly through his responsa which are held in high esteem, perhaps most famously his responsa ruling that foreigners in Israel need keep only one day of a holiday. He was the grandson of Elijah Ba'al Shem of Chelm.

Early life and education

He was descended from a well-known family of scholars. As a child, he received instruction from his father and from his grandfather, Ephraim ha-Kohen, then rabbi at Alt-Ofen (now Budapest), and later went to Salonica, where for some time he attended the school of Elihu Cobo. In Salonica he also witnessed the impact of the Sabbatai Zevi movement on the community, and this experience became a determining factor in his whole career.

During his stay at Salonica, Ashkenazi devoted himself mainly to an investigation of the Sephardic methods of study. Upon his return journey to Alt-Ofen he seems to have stayed some time (probably till 1679) at Constantinople, where his learning and astuteness made such an impression that, though a Polish scholar, he was termed "Chacham" (a Sephardic title reserved for rabbis). He retained this title throughout his career. Shortly after his return he married the daughter of a prominent citizen of Alt-Ofen.


In 1686 Alt-Ofen was invaded by the Austrian army, and Ashkenazi's young wife and daughter were killed by a cannon-shot. He fled, becoming separated from his parents (who were taken captive by the Prussians), and proceeded to Sarajevo, where he received an appointment as rabbi. He remained in that city until 1689, in which year he resigned (probably on account of some contention with certain members of his congregation), and left for Germany. In Berlin he married Sarah (died at Lemberg January 23, 1719), the daughter of Meshullam Zalman Mirels Neumark, chief rabbi of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck.

On the advice of his father-in-law he went in 1690 to Altona, where the leading members of the congregation founded a study-house (Klaus) and installed Ashkenazi as rabbi. His yeshiva became celebrated, and pupils assembled from all parts to hear him; but his income as rabbi of the Klaus was only 60 thalers annually, so that he was compelled to defray his living expenses by engaging in various business pursuits (e.g. dealing in jewelry). After the death of his father-in-law, whom Ashkenazi had latterly aided in his official duties, one party in the Jewish community wished to have Ashkenazi installed as rabbi of the three congregations (the unity known as AH"U), while another party favored the election of Moses ben Alexander Rothenburg. Finally it was decided that both candidates should serve, but alternately, each for a period of six months. Friction and strife over religious questions ensued, and finally became so intense that, in 1709, Ashkenazi deemed it advisable to resign and resume his duties as rabbi of the Klaus.


Appointment and welcome

Less than a year later, on 10 January 1710, he received a letter of appointment to the chief rabbinate of the Ashkenazi congregation of Amsterdam. In addition to free residence, the office carried with it a yearly salary of 2,500 Dutch guilders (a large sum, in view of the fact that fifty years later 375 guilders was the usual salary of the chief rabbi of Berlin). Unselfish and independent by nature, Ashkenazi renounced the perquisites of his office, such as fees in civil suits, in order to maintain his independence, and accepted the high position only upon the condition that under no circumstances was he to be required to subordinate himself to the congregation, or to be obliged to receive gifts, and that he should be permitted to preserve absolute freedom of action on all occasions.

From the very beginning he encountered in Amsterdam a hostile party, whose principal leader was Aaron Polak Gokkes. Indeed, the difficulties with the directors became so serious that, on 26 May 1712, it was decided to dismiss the chief rabbi at the end of the term (three years) mentioned in his letter of appointment. Ashkenazi announced that he would not under any circumstances accept this dismissal, which he regarded as unjust. Serious difficulties arose. The rabbi's salary does not seem to have been paid, for in the register of the records of the congregation it is stated that on Saturday 4 Nisan 5472 (12 April 1712), the parnasim sent a secretary and two attendants of the congregation to Ashkenazi to inform the latter that upon the return of the letter of appointment he would be paid the money to which he was still entitled. Ashkenazi, however, naturally declined to return this piece of evidence, a copy of which has been preserved among the official documents of the congregation.

The Chayun incident

On June 30, 1713, Nehemiah Chiya Chayun arrived at Amsterdam and requested permission of the Portuguese congregation to circulate his writings, which had been published at Berlin. Ashkenazi thought Chayun was an old enemy of his from Sarajevo and Salonica, and at once requested Solomon Ayllon, Chacham of the Portuguese congregation, not to accord patronage to the stranger, who was unfavorably known to him. Ashkenazi believed himself justified in making this demand, as the Portuguese congregation and its rabbi had, from the beginning, treated him most courteously, and had already, during his term at Altona, repeatedly sent to him from the Sephardim of Hamburg, Amsterdam, and London religio-legal questions for his decision. Chayun thereupon called on Ashkenazi personally and made an explanation; whereupon the rabbi retracted his accusation, stating that it was a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile several members of the Portuguese congregation had submitted Chayun's writings to the judgment of Moses Hagiz, a messenger from Jerusalem then sojourning at Amsterdam, who immediately discovered their Shabbethaian principles and tendencies and gave the alarm. He also called the attention of Ashkenazi to the dangerous doctrines published in Chayun's book, whereupon the rabbi again warned the directorate of the Sephardim congregation not to support the author. Ashkenazi rejected a proposition to designate the objectionable passages, and declined to act as member of a committee of investigation, because he did not regard Ayllon, the rabbi of the Sephardim, as a competent authority on such questions. Thereupon a fierce contention ensued, during the progress of which Hagiz fought valiantly beside Ashkenazi.

A great number of pamphlets were issued by both sides, in which the contestants indulged in the most vehement abuse of each other. On 23 July 1713, Ashkenazi placed Chayun under the ban, because the investigating committee appointed by the Sephardic directorate had not yet made its report. In consequence of this measure, both Ashkenazi and Chagiz were subjected to street attacks, more particularly at the hands of the Portuguese, who threatened to kill them. In the midst of the constantly increasing bitterness and animosity, the report of the committee, which had been prepared by Ayllon alone, was publicly announced. It was to the effect that the writings of Chayun contained nothing which could be construed as offensive to Judaism. It was publicly announced in the synagogue that Chayun was to be exonerated from every suspicion of heresy, and on the following day a public reception was tendered him at the synagogue, on which occasion unparalleled honor was shown him. Naturally, the Sephardic opponents of Ashkenazi had found excellent support among the rabbi's adversaries in his own German congregation. The controversy was now waged so fiercely that even the family-life of the community became affected, and all peace vanished from the otherwise model congregation of Amsterdam. Ashkenazi was deserted, except for a few friends that remained faithful to him. When, finally, he was summoned by the directors of the Portuguese congregation to appear before their tribunal—which, of course, had no jurisdiction—he refused to do so, as he anticipated that he would be asked to retract and to praise and recommend Chayun.

Placed under ban

Through a Christian advocate the directorate again summoned Ashkenazi to appear, 9 November 1713, and when he again refused, he and Moses Hagiz were formally placed under the ban by the Portuguese community. Ashkenazi was temporarily placed under arrest in his own home (probably to protect his life) by the municipal authorities, who had been influenced against him by Ayllon and the Portuguese leaders; and the whole matter was brought before the magistracy in order to secure Ashkenazi's deposition and banishment from Amsterdam.

The magistrates thereupon sought the opinions of certain professors at Leiden, Utrecht, and Harderwijk, including Willem Surenhuis and Adrian Reland, on the dispute; but their decision, if given, has not been made known.


Ashkenazi forestalled the magisterial action by resigning his office and fleeing, in the beginning of 1714, from Amsterdam, perhaps secretly, with the aid of his friend Solomon Levi Norden de Lima. After leaving his wife and children at Emden, he proceeded to London at the invitation of the Sephardic congregation of that city. In 1705 he was invited to pronounce a judicial decision concerning the orthodoxy of the rabbi David Nieto, who, in a certain sermon, had given utterance to allegedly Spinozistic views. In London Ashkenazi found many friends, and received many tributes of regard. Even before this he had been invited to take the rabbinate of the Sephardic congregation, but refused. It seems that his portrait in oil was painted here, after he had refused, on account of religious scruples, to have his bust stamped on a coin. In the following spring he returned to Emden, and proceeded thence to Poland by way of Hanover, Halberstadt, Berlin, and Breslau, stopping at each place for some time. After roaming about in the vicinity of Opatów, Poland, he was called to Hamburg to serve as member of a judicial body convened to settle a complicated legal question.

Upon the death of Simhah Cohen Rapoport, in 1717, Ashkenazi was called as rabbi to Lemberg, where he stood in high repute, both in his congregation and in the community at large. Four months after entering upon this office, he died.

Praised by contemporaries

Of a firm and unselfish but abrupt and passionate disposition, Ashkenazi everywhere aroused the discontent and hatred of the rich and the scholarly. Extensive learning, keen intelligence, and exceptional linguistic attainments, all combined to make him one of the most distinguished men of his day. All his contemporaries, even those who knew him only as the head of the Klaus at Altona, unite in praising his profound learning, his astuteness, his clearness of exposition, which never degenerated into the subtleties of the pilpul, and his absolute disregard for the influence of money. He would suffer serious deprivation rather than accept pecuniary assistance; and this characteristic, interpreted by the wealthy of that day as obstinacy and arrogance, became to him a source of much suffering and enmity.

Of his works, only a part of his responsa have been printed, under the title "Responsa Chacham Tzvi" (Amsterdam, 1712, and since frequently republished). They are distinguished by lucidity of treatment and an undeviating adherence to the subject.


His son Jacob served as rabbi in Emden and followed in his father's footsteps in combating inroads of the Sabbattean movement. His daughter Miriam was the wife of Aryeh Leib ben Saul, the rabbi of Amsterdam and the mother of Chief Rabbi Hirschel Levin and grandmother of the first Chief Rabbi of the British empire, Solomon Hirschell. Ashkenazi's son David was the Av Beit Din of Novyy Yarychev, Ukraine, and an ancestor of The Divrei Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam's mother Miriam.

See Dr. Neil Rosenstein's The Unbroken Chain for details about conflicting opinions as to how Miriam was a descendant of David.

1913-1996 Eger Family Association - pg. 3 - according to this source he was born in Saloniki and died Levov. It is unlikely.

According to R' Hersh Goldwurm, The Early Acharonim [Brooklyn: Mesorah Publ. 1989], R' Zvi Ashkenazi [OR 17184] was the grandson of R' Ephraim HaKohen [b. Vilna 1616, d. Budapest 1678], a descendant of R' Ephraim Fishl b. Moshe Yehuda, the first rabbi of the Ashkenazic community in Jerusalem. Some identify the latter with R' Ephraim Fishl of Brisk, a son-in-law of the Maharshal.

Die Grabschriften des alten Judenfriedhofes in Eisenstadt- Dr. Bernhard Wachstein- page 78

About חכם צבי הירש אשכנזי (עברית)

צבי הירש אשכנזי, חכם צבי (1656, או א' באלול ה'תי"ח, 30 באוגוסט 1658, טרביטש, מורביה – א' באייר ה'תע"ח, 3 במאי 1718, לבוב) היה רב ופוסק, מחשובי הרבנים בסוף מאה ה-17 ובתחילת מאה ה-18, מכונה החכם צבי על שם ספרו. אביו ורבו של רבי יעקב עמדין.

חייו ופעליו

נולד בעיר טרביטש שבמוראביה, לאביו הרב יעקב בן בנימין ז"ק ולאימו נחמה בת הרב אפרים הכהן. בתחילה למד אצל אביו, ובהמשך נסע לעיר אובין (אנ') (חלק מבודפשט המודרנית) שבהונגריה, ולמד אצל סבו, הרב אפרים הכהן (רב קהילת אובין) מחבר ספר "שער אפרים", צאצא לרבה הראשי של ירושלים אפרים פיש. (סבו זה היה חתן לאחד מבני בניו של רבי אליהו בעל שם מחלם). כמו כן נדד לעיר סלוניקי שבחבל הבלקן, שם למד במשך שנתיים אצל הרב אליהו קובו; ממנו רכש את שיטת הלימוד הספרדית.

בהמשך חזר לאובין, שם התחתן ונולדה לו בת. לפי המתואר בספר "מגילת ספר" של בנו, רבי יעקב עמדין, נהרגו אשתו ובתו בשנת 1686 (ה'תמ"ו) כאשר בעת המצור של צבא אוסטריה על העיר פגע פגז של תותח בביתו ומוטט אותו על האשה והבת, והוא עצמו ברח מהעיר לפני כיבושה. הוא נדד והגיע לסרייבו שבבוסניה שם כיהן כרב הקהילה עד 1689. בהמשך, יצא לחפש את הוריו שנשבו, ונפדו בברלין, ובדרכו התארח אצל רבי שמואל אבוהב בוונציה, ועבר גם באנשבך, פיורדה ופראג.

בבואו לברלין נשא לאשה את שרה רבקה, בתו של הרב משולם זלמן מירלש נוימרק אב"ד קהילות אה"ו. אחר נישואיו ישב בעיר אלטונה 18 שנים, ייסד שם ישיבה, ופעל רבות לתיקוני הדת בעיר. בשנת תס"ו מונה לרב של קהילות אה"ו, לצידו של הרב משה מרוטנברג, בהסכם רוטציה של 6 חודשים לכל אחד. בעקבות חילוקי דעות שהתעוררו בשאלה הלכתית בדינה של תרנגולת בלי לב נאלץ להתפטר, דבר שהיסב לו חולי כבד. לאחר מכן מונה לרב קהילת האשכנזים באמסטרדם. הקהילה קצבה לו סכום עצום של 2,500 גילדן לשנה, פי עשרה מהמקובל בערים אחרות באותה עת. בני הקהילות, האשכנזית והספרדית, כיבדוהו מאוד. בעיר זו הדפיס את ספרו, שו"ת חכם צבי. אך בעקבות חילוקי דעות (להלן) נאלץ ה"חכם צבי" לעזוב את העיר.

בעזבו את אמסטרדם, שלח את משפחתו לעיר אמדן, והוא עצמו נדד לאנגליה, לבקשת הקהילה הספרדית בלונדון שהעריכה אותו, ובעבר פנתה אליו בשאלת מעמדו של דרשן הקהילה, רבי דוד ניטו. עבר בקהילות רבות באשכנז ובפולין, כשבחלקן השתהה מספר חודשים, עד שהגיע בחורף של שנת ה'תע"ח ללבוב שבגליציה, שם כיהן כרב מספר חודשים, עד יום מותו בא' באייר ה'תע"ח (1718), והספיק לתקן בעיר מספר תקנות חשובות.

בנו, רבי יעקב עמדין, בא ללבוב להספידו, והדפיס את ההספד בספר "יציב פתגם". את תולדותיו כתב בספרים "תורת הקנאות" ו"מגילת ספר".


לחכם צבי היו 16 ילדים, יחד עם בתו הקטנה שנספתה באובין, כנזכר למעלה. להלן שמותיהם, נרשמו ע״י יוסף נחמיה הכהן קוואדראט מלונדון

  • 21.
  • 1. בתו הקטנה שנספתה באובין, ה׳ תמ״ו - 1686
  • 2. מרים, אשתו של רבי אריה לייב מאמסטרדם - נו. תנ״ב - 1672 באלטונא
  • 3. רחל א״ש, אשתו של רבי יצחק, בנו של רבי מאיר איזנשטט. נו. תנ״ד - 1674 באלטונא
  • 4. [%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%94] נחמה, אשתו של הרב נפתלי הירץ שכיהן כרב בפשדבורז. נו. תנ״ו - 1676 באלטונא. הייתה אלמנה שנים רבות, והתגוררה בבית גיסה רבה של אמסטרדם.
  • 5. רבי יעקב עמדן, היעב"ץ. נו. תנ״ח - 1678 באלטונא
  • 6. הרב אפרים אשכנזי, מרבני הקלויז בברודי. נו. ת״ס - 1680 באלטונא
  • 7. הרבנית לאה רוקח. נו. תס״ב - 1682 באלטונא
  • 8. הרב [%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%94] נתן אשכנזי, מרבני הקלויז בברודי, אבי אביו של רבי יעקב מליסא. נו. תס״ד - 1684 באלטונא
  • 9. הרב דוד, אב"ד ירטשוב. נו. תס״ו - 1686. סבו של הרב דב בעריש אשכנזי רבה של לובלין ושל הרב דוד מטרניגרוד, סבו של רבי חיים הלברשטאם.
  • 10. הרבנית דבורה ממדינת וואלין. נו. תס״ח - 1688 באלטונא
  • 11. הרב אברהם משולם זלמן, כיהן כרב באוסטרהא ובלונדון. נו. ת״ע - 1690 באלטונא
  • 12. הילד משה. תע״ב. באמסטרדם
  • 13. הילדה בת-שבע. תע״ב. באמסטרדם
  • 14. ילד או ילדה. באמסטרדם
  • 15. ילדה. נו. באמסארדם , נפ. בעמדין
  • 16. ילדה. נו. תע״ו - 1696 באפטא, נפ. תע״ט - 1699 בלבוב

אין סימוכין לצאצאים הר״מ, :

  • 17. ר׳ געציל ראקובער מקרקוב
  • 18. ר׳ משה אשכנזי מבראד.
  • 19. ר׳ משה א.ב.ד. בקאמינקא
  • 20. ר׳ יצחק אשכנזי, א.ב.ד.
  • 21. ר׳ יעקב מרדכי כ״ץ או אשתו של הרב יעקב מרדכי כ"ץ אב"ד ברודא, בנו של רבי נפתלי כ"ץ, בעל ה"סמיכת חכמים".
  • 22. ר׳ זוסמאן
  • 23. ר׳ נפתלי צבי אשכנזי מלבוב
  • 24. הרבנית פרידה חריף, אשתו של הרב יעקב חריף, רבה של לשנוב וגליל פודוליה.
  • 25. לאה, שדעות כותבי היחוסין חלוקות בדבר זהות בעלה וצאצאיה.
  • 26. אסתר.


החכם צבי התנגד רבות לשבתאות, דבר המתבטא במלחמתו נגד נחמיה חייא חיון כאשר האחרון שאף להדפיס את ספרו דברי נחמיה על התורה, בשנת תע"ג. באותו זמן כיהן החכם צבי כרב הקהילה האשכנזית, ובעקבות מלחמתו הסתכסך עם קהילת הספרדים בראשותו של רבי שלמה אאיליון, שטענו שהחכם צבי מתערב בעניינם. בעקבות המחלוקת נאלץ לעזוב את אמסטרדם, יחד עם רבי משה חגיז שסייע לו באותה מלחמה.

בלימודו העיוני שילב החכם צבי את שיטת הלימוד הספרדית עם שיטת הלימוד האשכנזית.

בעת שהותו באמסטרדם הוציא לאור, בשנת תע"ב, את חיבורו חכם צבי, המהווה שילוב בין שו"ת לבין חידושים תלמודיים.

Chacham Tzvi. .צבי הירש אשכנזי, חכם צבי

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Chacham Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi's Timeline

August 20, 1658
Velké Meziříčí, Moravia, Czechoslovakia
Buda, Budapest, Hungary
- 1689
Age 27
Sarajevo, then Turkish Empire, Yugoslavia
- 1709
Age 31
Altona Klaus (Yeshiva), Altona (Hamburg), Germany
June 4, 1697
Altona, Hamburg, HH, Germany
Amsterdam, Government of Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
- 1709
Age 48
Altona-Hamburg- Wandsbeck Congregation, Altona (Hamburg), Germany
- 1714
Age 51
Ashkenazi Congregation of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands