Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles, "RaMA"

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Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles, "RaMA"

Hebrew: רבי משה בן ישראל איסרליש, הרמ״א, בעל ה״מפה״
Also Known As: "Moshe", "ReMA"
Birthplace: Kraków, Poland
Death: May 11, 1572 (38-46)
Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland
Place of Burial: REMA Cemetery, Krakow, Poland
Immediate Family:

Son of Rabbi Israel Joseph Isserles, [RaMA father] of Krakow and Dinah Malka Isserles, [RaMA mother]
Husband of Krendel Isserles, [RaMa #1 wife]; Golda Isserles, [ReMa #2 wife] and Shprintze Isserles, [RaMa #3 wife]
Father of Hendele Malka? Günsburg; Dreizel (Therese) Bunim-Meisels; wife of Hirsh Leib Bienenfeld; . dau. RAMA Isserles; Sara Luria and 6 others
Brother of Mrs. Eliyahu Lipshitz; Yitzhak Isserles, "The Rich" [REMA brother]; Joseph Isserles; Kendel Segal? Drucker?; Miriam Beila Horowitz (Isserles), REMA's sister and 3 others

Occupation: Rabbi, Dayan, Posek, Kabbalist, Talmusdist, Philosopher, Famous Rabbi, Chief Rabbi of Krakow, הרמ"א, the Rma, Rabbi of Krakow
Managed by: Yigal Burstein
Last Updated:

About Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles, "RaMA"

Moses ben Israel Isserles (or Moshe Isserlis) (February 22, 1530 / Adar I 25, 5290 – May 11, 1572 / Iyar 18, 5332), was an eminent Polish Ashkenazic rabbi, talmudist, and posek, an inline commentary on the Shulkhan Aruch (lit. "the set table").

He is also well known for the Darkhei Moshe, a commentary on the Tur. Moses Isserles is also referred to as "the Remo" or Rema רמ״א, the Hebrew acronym for Rabbi Moses Isserles. He is buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Cracow.

Jewish Dynasties

הרמ"א, 400 שנה לפטירתו - הרב ד"ר אשר זיו

הרמ"א, רבי משה איסרליש

Moses ben Israel Isserles - Biography

Moshe was born in Cracow. His father, Israel (known as Iserl), was a prominent Talmudist, said to have been independently wealthy, and probably headed the community; his (great?) grandfather, Jehiel Luria, was the first Rabbi of Brisk. (In an era which preceded the use of surnames, Moses became known by his patronymic, Isserels - corrupted in English to Isserles.) He studied in Lublin under Rabbi Shalom Shachna, who became his father-in-law; among his fellow pupils were his relative Solomon Luria (Maharshal), and Chayyim b. Bezalel, an older brother of the Maharal. Rema’s wife died young, at the age of 20 and he later established the "Rema Synagogue" in Cracow in her memory (originally his house, built by his father in his honor—which he gave to the community). He later married the sister of Joseph ben Mordechai Gershon Ha-Kohen.

Married to Krendel Everels, Golda bat Shalom Shakna (1532-1552); then Shprinze Katzenellenbogen, daughter of Mordechai Gershon Katz Ha-Kohen.

He returned to Cracow about 1550, when he established a large yeshiva and, being a wealthy man, supported his pupils at his own cost. In his teaching, he was opposed to pilpul and he emphasized simple interpretation of the Talmud. In 1553 he was appointed as dayan; he also served on the Council of the Four Lands. He became a world-renowned scholar and was approached by many other well-known rabbis, including Yosef Karo, for Halachic decisions. He was one of the greatest Jewish scholars of Poland, and was the primary halakhic authority for European Jewry of his day. He died in Cracow and was buried next to his synagogue. On his tombstone is inscribed: "From Moses (Maimonides) to Moses (Isserles) there was none like Moses". Until the Second World War, thousands of pilgrims visited his grave annually on Lag Ba'omer, his Yahrzeit (date of death).

Not only was Rema a renowned Talmudic and legal scholar, he was also learned in Kabbalah, and studied history, astronomy and philosophy. He taught that “the aim of man is to search for the cause and the meaning of things” ("Torath ha-Olah" III., vii.). He also held that "it is permissible to now and then study secular wisdom, provided that this excludes works of heresy... and that one [first] knows what is permissible and forbidden, and the rules and the mitzvot" (Shulkhan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, 246, 4). Maharshal reproached him for having based some of his decisions on Aristotle. His reply was that he studied Greek philosophy only from Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed, and then only on Shabbat and Yom Tov (holy days) - and furthermore, it is better to occupy oneself with philosophy than to err through Kabbalah (Responsa No. 7).

Amongst his many notable descendants are the composers Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer.


Darkhei Moshe (דרכי משה) is a commentary on the Tur as well as on the Beth Yosef, which is Yosef Karo's commentary on the Tur and the work underlying the Shulkhan Aruch. Isserles had originally intended the Darkhei Moshe to serve as a basis for subsequent halakhic decisions. As such, in this work he evaluates the rulings of the Tur - which was widely accepted among the Ashkenazim and Sephardim - comparing these with rulings of other halakhic authorities. The Beth Yosef was published while Isserles was at work on the Darkhei Moshe. Recognizing that Karo's commentary largely met his objectives, Isserles published the Darkhei Moshe in a modified form. An abridgement of the original work is published with the Tur; the complete version of the Darkhei Moshe is published separately.

HaMapah (המפה) is written as a gloss to the Shulchan Aruch of Yosef Karo, discussing cases where Sephardi and Ashkenazi customs differ. (Hamapah is the "tablecloth" for the Shulkhan Aruch, the "set table".) Karo had based his normative positions on three authorities: Maimonides, Asher ben Jehiel (the Rosh), and Isaac Alfasi (the Rif). Of these, only Asher ben Jehiel had non-Sephardic roots, having lived most of his life in Germany before moving to Spain, but even so, his work is largely Sephardic in orientation. Isserles thus created a series of glosses, in which he supplemented Karo with material drawn from the laws and customs (Minhagim) of Ashkenazi Jewry - chiefly based on the works of Yaakov Moelin, Israel Isserlein and Israel Bruna. All editions of the Shulchan Aruch since 1578 include HaMapah embedded in the text (introduced by הגהה Hagahah, "gloss"), and distinguished by a semi-cursive "Rashi script". Today, "Shulchan Aruch" refers to the combined work of Karo and Isserles. This consolidation of the two works strengthened the underlying unity of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. It is through this unification that the Shulkhan Aruch became the universally accepted Code of Law for the entire Jewish people.

Rabbi Isserles also wrote:

• Torath ha-Chatath, mainly on kashrut (the dietary laws);

• Torath ha-Olah and Mechir Yayin (on the Book of Esther), both philosophical;

• Teshuvot Rema, a work of responsa - see History of Responsa: Sixteenth century.

History of the Jews in Poland (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Jewish learning :

Late renaissance synagogue in Zamość (1610-1620).Yeshivot were established, under the direction of the rabbis, in the more prominent communities. Such schools were officially known as gymnasiums, and their rabbi principals as rectors. Important yeshivot existed in Kraków, Poznań, and other cities. Jewish printing establishments came into existence in the first quarter of the 16th century. In 1530 a Hebrew Pentateuch (Torah) was printed in Kraków; and at the end of the century the Jewish printing houses of that city and Lublin issued a large number of Jewish books, mainly of a religious character. The growth of Talmudic scholarship in Poland was coincident with the greater prosperity of the Polish Jews; and because of their communal autonomy educational development was wholly one-sided and along Talmudic lines. Exceptions are recorded, however, where Jewish youth sought secular instruction in the European universities. The learned rabbis became not merely expounders of the Law, but also spiritual advisers, teachers, judges, and legislators; and their authority compelled the communal leaders to make themselves familiar with the abstruse questions of Jewish law. Polish Jewry found its views of life shaped by the spirit of Talmudic and rabbinical literature, whose influence was felt in the home, in school, and in the synagogue.

In the first half of the 16th century the seeds of Talmudic learning had been transplanted to Poland from Bohemia, particularly from the school of Jacob Pollak, the creator of Pilpul ("sharp reasoning"). Shalom Shachna (c. 1500–1558), a pupil of Pollak, is counted among the pioneers of Talmudic learning in Poland. He lived and died in Lublin, where he was the head of the yeshivah which produced the rabbinical celebrities of the following century.

Shachna's son Israel became rabbi of Lublin on the death of his father, and Shachna's pupil

His contemporary and correspondent Solomon Luria (1510–1573) of Lublin also enjoyed a wide reputation among his co-religionists; and the authority of both was recognized by the Jews throughout Europe. Heated religious disputations were common, and Jewish scholars participated in them. At the same time, the Kabbalah had become entrenched under the protection of Rabbinism; and such scholars as Mordecai Jaffe and Yoel Sirkis devoted themselves to its study. This period of great Rabbinical scholarship was interrupted by the Chmielnicki Uprising and The Deluge


Rabbi Isserles had several children: "Drezil (named after his maternal grandmother), wife of R. Bunem Meizlish. A daughter whose name is unknown to us.... A son, R. Yehuda.... A third daughter...who is totally unknown to us." Amongst his many notable descendants are the composers Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, and the statistician Leon Isserlis. He is buried in the eponymous Remuh Cemetery in Kraków.

Isserles is perhaps best known for his halakhic works, chief among them his notes to the Shulchan Aruch by Yosef Karo. One of the things for which Rabbi Isserles is best known for is his approach to customs (minhagim): "it should be remembered that R. Isserles did not regard the Jewish Minhag lightly. On the contrary, he too expressed reverence and respect for it, and whenever possible endeavored to uphold it and also to explain its origin. Only, unlike many great Talmudic scholars, he refused to follow it blindly. When convinced of the unsound basis of a Minhag, he was ready to repudiate it regardless of its acceptance by the people."

Furthermore: "The Talmud is, of course, the great reservoir to which R. Isserles turns as the first step in attempting to solve a problem. The question at hand is immediately referred to an identical or similar case in the Talmud. The second step is the weighing of the opinions of the ראשונים, i.e. Alfasi (רי”ף), Tosafists, Nachmanides, etc. expanding and explaining the text. The opinion of the majority is followed by R. Isserles and even Maimonides, whom he respected very highly, is disregarded if he was in the minority. After the Rishonim, R. Isserles proceeds to examine writings of אחרונים, i.e. Mordechai, Ashri and Tur, and the latter is followed especially when the Tosafists agree with him. At this point, the Responsa of still later authorities are cited extensively in accordance with the well-established priniciple of הלכה כבתרא, paying due attention even to the opinions of contemporaries and to customs of Polish Jewry which the ב”י omitted. Thus, Isserles, in his responsa as well as in the ד”מ and his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, served as a supplement and offered his community the code of Law adjusted to its authorities, customs, and needs. He spread the “cloth” over the table prepared by his contemporary, the ב”י."

Isserles, like Yosef Karo in the Shulchan Aruch, often quotes Kabbalistic sources and opinions in his various works, and writes of his great joy upon finding that his ruling concurred with what he later found written in the "words of the Zohar which were given at Sinai...".

About רבי משה בן ישראל איסרליש, הרמ״א, בעל ה״מפה״ (עברית)

רבי משה בן ישראל איסרלישׂ (ה'ר"פ 1520 - ה'של"ב 1572; נודע בכינויו הרמ"א), פוסק, ראש ישיבה, פילוסוף. גדול פוסקי אשכנז במאה ה-16.

חיבר חיבורים רבים בהלכה, אך מפעלו הגדול שסמכותו הוכרה לדורות בקרב יהודי אשכנז היה כתיבת "המפה", ההגהות על ה"שולחן ערוך" שחיבר רבי יוסף קארו, על מנת לעשותו לספר שימושי גם לבני אשכנז, שמנהגיהם ופסיקותיהם שונים ממנהגי עדות המזרח.

קורות חייו

נולד לישראל ולמלכה (בת-דודתו של מהר"ם מפדואה) בקז'ימייז' שבדרום פולין, הוסמך לרבנות בגיל 13, ולמד בישיבה אצל רבי שלום שכנא מלובלין, שלאחר מכן היה חותנו בזיווג ראשון. כיהן כדיין בבית הדין בקרקוב, וכראש ישיבה שהקים בעיר.

הרמ"א היה רבה הראשי של הקהילה היהודית בקז'ימייז'. בימיו יהדות פולין הייתה בשגשוגה, וזכתה לאוטונומיה רוחנית, כלכלית, תרבותית ומנהלית.

כמה מספריו, ובהם חיבור גדול על כל אגדות המשנה, לא נשתמרו.

המהרש"ל היה קרוב משפחתו, והוא הרבה להתכתב עימו.

כתיבת ההגהות על השולחן ערוך

בשני מפעלי החיבור ההלכתיים הגדולים שלו, מצא הרמ"א שרבי יוסף קארו, הספרדי, הקדימו. ראשית בחיבור מקיף על ספר ארבעה טורים, הוא "דרכי משה", שבא להשלים את אשר החסיר ר' יעקב בן הרא"ש. במהלך הכתיבה נודע לרמ"א כי רבי יוסף קארו כותב חיבור דומה ואף שאפתני יותר, הלא הוא ה"בית יוסף". בעקבות ידיעה זו שינה הרמ"א את מתכונת הכתיבה של ה"דרכי משה" וקיצר אותה. בשלב השני ביקש הרמ"א להוציא חיבור פסקני וקצר יותר של "דרכי משה", אולם גם אז נודע לו שרבי יוסף קארו הקדימו, בכתבו את ה"שולחן ערוך".בשל כך שרף הרמ"א את השולחן ערוך שלו על מנת שלא יהיה מחלוקת ויהיה רק שולחן ערוך אחד בישראל. כך פרש על השולחן את ה"מפה", הלא הן הגהותיו, המוסיפות במקום שפסיקתה ומנהגיה של יהדות אשכנז חולקים על פסיקת ה"שולחן ערוך". מחלוקת זו נובעת הן מהמעמד החשוב של המנהג באשכנז (בעוד רבי יוסף קארו פסק לפי כללים), והן עקב הבדלים בין הפסיקה שזכתה לרוב בין שלושת עמודי ה"שולחן ערוך", הרי"ף, הרמב"ם והרא"ש, לבין הפסיקה ביהדות אשכנז, שהושפעה מפוסקים נוספים, כמו בעלי התוספות. על מחויבות האשכנזים לאורך הדורות לפסיקותיו של הרמ"א נודעת האימרה בקרב הפוסקים המאוחרים יותר "והאשכנזים יוצאים ביד רמ"א" - כפרפרזה לפסוק מהמקרא (שמות י"ד,ח') העוסק ביציאת מצרים: "ובני ישראל יוצאים ביד רמה".

הרמ"א נקבר בעיר קרקוב, קברו שוכן מאחורי בית כנסת הרמ"א בקרקוב ונמצא במרחק של שני מטרים מחלון עזרת הנשים.

הרמ"א כפילוסוף

בספר "תורת העולה" הוא נתן פרשנות פילוסופית ייחודית להלכות בית המקדש. מצד שני, האמין גם בקבלה וראה אפשרות ליצור הרכבה בין שני התחומים הנלחמים זה בזה, לכאורה, לפי תפיסתו, כלומר, בין הספירות בקבלה לבין תורת התארים הפילוסופית. האמין בספר הזוהר, אך לא פסק לפיו. שלא כפי שאירע לפילוסופים אחרים, כמו הרמב"ם, ידיעתו בפילוסופיה לא מנעה ממנו להאמין באסטרולוגיה ובאמונות עממיות, למשל, שניתן לראות בצל הירח בהושענא רבה את גורלו של האדם.

על פי האגדה, הרמ"א חי 33 שנה, נפטר בל"ג בעומר (יח באייר) (33 לעומר) וחיבר שלושים ושלושה ספרים. אך כבר הראו כי רמ"א נישא קודם לשנת שי"ב, בה לפי האגדה היה רק בן 12. ממקורות שונים עולה כי גילו האמיתי בפטירתו היה 52, אך יש חוקרים הטוענים כי היה בן 42. כך או כך, קברו שבקראקא שבפולין, היה ביום ל"ג בעומר למוקד משיכה ותפילה ליהודים רבים מכל קצוות תבל.


דרכי משה - נכתב כהשגות על ספר "בית יוסף" לרבי יוסף קארו. "דרכי משה" נכתב בשתי מהדורות, קצרה וארוכה - המהדורה הקצרה השתמרה ברוב מהדורות "ארבעה טורים" הנדפסות, אך המהדורה הארוכה מצויה במספר מהדורות מועט. חשיבותו של ספר זה רבה להבנת צורת הפסיקה של רמ"א בהגהותיו על השלחן ערוך

מחיר יין - פירוש סימבולי על מגילת אסתר

תורת חטאת - על דיני איסור והיתר

תורת העולה - ספר פילוסופיה דתית

שו"ת הרמ"א - בין היתר כולל ההתכתבות שהייתה לו עם בן דורו המהרש"ל שחלק עליו בנוגע ללימוד פילוסופיה

כמה מספריו, ובהם חיבור גדול על כל אגדות המשנה, לא נשתמרו

ר' משה איסרליש ידוע בכינוי הרמ"א.

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Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles, "RaMA"'s Timeline

February 22, 1530
Kraków, Poland
Krakow, Poland
December 9, 1551
- 1572
Age 22
Jewish Community of Kraków, Kraków, Poland
May 11, 1572
Age 42
Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland
April 1573
Age 42
REMA Cemetery, Krakow, Poland