The Gaon R' Yonoson was born around the year 5454 (1694) in the city
of Pintchov. His father was Reb Nosson Nota who later became rov of
Eibeshitz, and his mother was the Rabbonis Sheindel, daughter of HaRav
Yehudah Leib Tzintz, zt"l, rov of Pintshov.
Reb Yonoson learned from the Ponim Meiros, HaRav Meir
Eisenshtat, zt"l, who was then rov in Prostitz, and from his
relative HaRav Eliezer HaLevi Ettinga, rov of Helishau.
In the year 5470 (1710) he married Elka, the daughter of R' Moishe
Yitzchok Shapira, zt"l, rov of Bumsleh. He stayed with his
father-in-law and became dayan in town. A short while later he
moved to Prague where he studied together with the talmidim of
the famous gaon HaRav Avrohom Broide, zt"l.
In the year 5473 (1713) he traveled to Hamburg, staying approximately
two years and then returning to Prague. There he was chosen to serve
as rosh yeshiva and darshan of the city. Subsequently, when the
rov of Prague, Reb Dovid Oppenheim, was niftar in 5497 (1737),
Reb Yonoson was appointed in his stead.
The talmidim Reb Yonoson taught numbered in the thousands. Already
during his lifetime writers of Reb Yonoson's biography recorded more
than twenty thousand talmidim.
Towards the end of 5501 (1741) he was chosen to fill the place of the
Pnei Yehoshua in Metz and in the winter of the next year, he
arrived in the city. There he had more spare time to write his
chiddushei Torah and many seforim, such as Kreisi
Upleisi on Yoreh Deioh, Bnei Ahuvoh on the Rambam,
Ya'aros Devash, Urim Vetumin on Choshen Mishpot, and
Ahavas Yonoson on the Haftoros.
In the year 5510 (1750), he was accepted as av beis din of the
three communities of Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek ("AHU") in place of
HaRav Yechezkel Katzenellenbogen, the Knesses Yechezkel,
On Tuesday the 21st of Elul, HaRav Yonoson Eibeshitz departed from
this world and a huge levayah accompanied him to his resting
place in the cemetery of Altona.
The era during which Reb Yonoson Eibeshitz was rov of the three
kehillos of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek was a very difficult
period. Many women had been dying during childbirth, causing fear and
panic amongst the people. They thronged to Reb Yonoson, begging him to
give a kemayo as a segulah to save them from death.
After much pressure, Reb Yonoson acceded to their requests and gave
the daughter of one of the roshei hakehilloh an amulet. Indeed
she passed through childbirth safely and from then Reb Yonoson
distributed amulets to every woman who was to give birth. The babies
were born without mishap to their mothers, and peace and calm was
However, as the holy Chasam Sofer later revealed to us, that
generation lived in a time of strong chances that Moshiach
would come and bring the final Redemption. In order to prevent this,
the Evil Inclination came to ensnare the multitudes in the trap of
loshon hora and machlokes, whipping up baseless hatred
Somewhere, the suspicion was raised that Reb Yonoson was using
kemayos connected with the cult of Shabsai Zvi, y"msh,
who had misled so many unfortunate souls only a short while
As in every feud, more and more people took sides, each claiming to be
correct and all the others wrong, and the friction was blown up way
out of proportion.
One spring day, Reb Yonoson Eibeshitz was traveling and as evening
approached he settled into an inn. There he heard a group of empty-
headed people chatting. Their conversation eventually led to the case
of Reb Yonoson, whom they had no idea was sitting close by.
Reb Yonoson was not one to be concerned for his own honor. In fact,
when the Nodah Biyehudah and his beis din excommunicated
a Jew who spoke against R' Yonoson in public until he would go
personally to request forgiveness, Reb Yonoson received the man
warmly. With a broken and humble demeanor the Jew begged Reb Yonoson's
forgiveness. Softly Reb Yonoson replied, "There is no need to be so
worked up. I have nothing against you."
However, seeing here a group of ignorant boors denigrating the
gedolei hador and giving opinions on a feud they knew nothing
about hurt Reb Yonoson.
He turned to the group with a question, "Do you say the poem of
Chad Gadya on Pesach?"
The reply was in the affirmative, and Reb Yonoson continued, "Perhaps
you can explain to me what's going on here. I don't understand. It
seems as though the whole case is not judged fairly. The cat devoured
the goat that the Father bought for two zuz. If so, the dog was
correct in punishing the cat with a bite. It follows that the stick
was wrong to hit the dog and the fire justly burned the stick. The
water had no right to extinguish the fire and so the ox did well to
finish it off. The shochet had no reason to slaughter the ox
and so the Angel of Death must have killed him in the name of justice.
If so, why does Hakodosh Boruch Hu come to slaughter the
The babble of general chat and laughter subsided as the men realized
this was an unusual person, and they pressed him to reveal the answer
to his own question.
Reb Yonoson explained, "The goat and the cat were in a fight. Somehow
or another they would settle the matter themselves. But you, dog, why
do you have to mix in, involving yourself in a quarrel that is no
business of yours? Now, if the dog was wrong to mix in, the stick hit
him fairly. The fire that burnt the stick was incorrect and deserved
to be extinguished by the waters. The ox should not have drunk the
water, and so the shochet was right to kill it. The Angel of
Death unjustly killed the shochet and therefore in the future
Hakodosh Boruch Hu will come to slaughter the Mal'och
Hamoves, who is in essence the yetzer hora, the very same
one that fans the flames of machlokes."
Reb Yonoson concluded on a note of gentle rebuke. "Listen here, if you
see talmidei chachomim, leaders of the generation, involved in
machlokes lesheim Shomayim, leave them to settle the matter
themselves. Don't be like the dog who mixes into a fight that is none
of his business and then meets a bitter end. Eventually Hakodosh
Boruch Hu will bring forth the light of justice and all those who
involved themselves needlessly, only causing strife, will be left to
pay for their sins."
His listeners saw the truth in Reb Yonoson's words and refrained from
discussing the matter further.
Reb Nosson Adler zt"l, and his pupil, the holy Chasam Sofer
zt"l, would tell this story annually at the seder, when
they reached the song of Chad Gadya, to impress upon their
families and students the importance of keeping far from strife.