Rabbeinu Yosef Teumim was born in the year 5487 (1727)
in the village of Steritch, close to Lemberg, where his
father R' Meir zt"l was maggid. The son
followed in his father's ways and later he became a
moreh tzedek and maggid there.
When he married the rabbonis, daughter of HaRav
Elyokim zt"l of Komarna, he stayed in that town,
immersing himself in the sea of Torah and avodoh.
It was there that he wrote his sefer Rosh Yosef
on maseches Chulin.
After a while, he left his family for an extended time
to learn in Berlin in the beis medrash of the
famous Reb Daniel Yaffe o"h. The shul was
virtually a treasure trove of seforim, old and
new, including rare antiques.
Rabbi Yosef sat there day and night writing his
seforim — Pri Megodim on Shulchan Oruch Orach
Chaim, Ginas Vrodim, Poras Yosef and more. When he
humbly went to the gedolei hador to collect
signatures and approbations for his seforim, one
of them predicted that his seforim would never
leave the tables of rabbonim and morei horo'oh, a
blessing which has been truly fulfilled.
On 19 Tammuz 5533 (1773) his father passed away and
Rabbi Yosef was immediately called to Lemberg to take
his place. He returned to his hometown for a few years
and subsequently, in 5542 (1782), went on to become rov
in Frankfurt am Oder. For ten years he led the
kehilloh with a strong hand, setting many
To this day, one can see in the collection of
Knesses Yisroel in London the handwritten
"Community Ledger of Frankfurt" which lists many
takonos that were made by the Pri Megodim. These
include limitations on expenditures for weddings and
the number of guests to be invited for the meal.
His seforim were accepted and continue to be used
throughout Torah Jewry.
The gedolei hadoros note that the reason that the
Pri Megodim merited to be the one to ascertain the
halochos just like Beis Hillel, is because
he emulated the talmidim of Hillel in his
humility and understanding of others.
The more widely known date of his petiroh is 4 Adar
5552 (1792). However, at the end of the Sefer
Hanogid of Rabbeinu, an authentic copy of his
matzeivoh is shown, where the date is listed as
10 Iyar and his burial took place the following day in
Frankfurt am Oder.
Lately, following extensive research, the location of
the burial place of the Pri Megodim has been
discovered. However the entire area shows no sign of
graves or matzeivos, having been, to our sorrow,
Tehei Nafsho Tzeruroh Bitzror Hachaim
Perhaps one of the most outstanding of Rabbeinu's noble
character traits was his humility.
The Pri Megodim once gave a wonderful piece of advice
to a close friend of his. The latter had been nominated
rov of a large community and was now afraid that
perhaps people would bother him continuously with
mundane matters and he would not have enough time to
"I'll tell you what I did and how I learned from my own
experience," confided Rabbeinu.
"When I was chosen rov of Berlin, my reputation as a
clever person who can arrange compromises in dinei
Torah spread. Immediately, I was beset by all the
cases in the area and beyond, each with their
complications and sometimes trivialities that were
encountered with business partners, neighbors and the
like. I realized that if things continued as they were,
I would end up having no time to learn at all. I
therefore decided to make myself a bit of an idiot, as
though I cannot hear or understand properly. I began
asking people to repeat themselves two or three times
over, and slowly the word spread that I'm not such a
wise person after all. The dinei Torah being
brought before me dwindled down becoming fewer and
farther between and, boruch Hashem, I had time
once again to learn Torah. [Note: The Pri Megodim was
certainly not shirking his responsibility to pasken
but apparently only to lessen the numbers of those who
came to benefit from his good advice in settling
"This is my advice to you. True, it isn't very pleasant
to hear that people are spreading the word that you are
not too clever. But nevertheless, it's preferable to
suffer a bit of degradation in this world so that you
can learn Torah and reach the life in the World to
HaRav Engel, rov of Satria, relates that his rebbi R'
Arye Leib Hakohen, the Ketzos HaChoshen, once sent a
letter to the Pri Megodim in which he sang the latter's
praises. Rabbeinu, in a reply, asked why he described
him in such lofty terms that have no connection to him.
The Ketzos HaChoshen replied simply that he was just
repeating the terms that people wrote to him!
The Pri Megodim was quick to answer him with typical
humility: "Your sefer is full of novellae
that you yourself were mechadesh, whereas my
sefer merely interprets the words of our great
rabbonim and I am just a collector of leftovers from
the King's feast."
These last words he also uses in his introduction to
his sefer Pri Megodim.
The following story related in the sefer Zichron
Elozor on the Shemen Rokeach, zt"l, is another
Already an elderly man, the Pri Megodim was visiting in
the town of the Shemen Rokeach and was honored with
giving a droshoh in the central shul. All
the town's talmidei chachomim and lomdim
prepared themselves for their learning session with a
godol hador and came armed with many profound
sheilos and kushyos. As soon as Rabbeinu
began speaking, he was assailed by all the questions of
his audience. Unwilling to answer them publicly, and
thereby embarrass them, the Pri Megodim kept silent,
appearing as though he had no answer and that they were
Only after his droshoh was over, when his
questioners came over to him personally did he give
each one the solution to his kushya. Thus those
present were witnesses not only to his greatness in
Torah, but also to his sterling middos.