Dei'ah veDibur - Information & 

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Marcheshvan 5772 - November 24, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











The Maharsho, Reb Shmuel Eliezer Eidel's, ztvk"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 5th Kislev

In the year 5325 (1565), in Posen, Reb Shmuel Eliezer was born. His father, Reb Yehudah z"l, was a descendant of Reb Yehudah Hachosid and his mother, Gittel o"h, could trace her lineage back to the Maharal Hazoken.

He married the daughter of Reb Moshe Ashkenazi zt"l author of the sefer Zichron Moshe. His mother-in-law Eidel, o"h, took care of all his financial worries, supporting him and setting up his yeshiva in Posen, which Reb Shmuel led from 5345 (1585) until 5365 (1605).

Some say that the name Maharsho is an acronym for Reb Shmuel Eidel's, alluding to the merit of his mother-in-law, Eidel. However, R' Pinchos of Koritz said the "alef" refers to his middle name, Eliezer.

In 5375 (1615), the Maharsho became rov in Lublin, replacing the Maharam. From there he went on to become rov in Tiktin and subsequently in Ostroa.

The Maharsho was one of the leading rabbonim of the Vaad Arba Arotzos, a committee comprised of rabbonim representing Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Volhynia. The Vaad saw to all the Jewish affairs of these four countries, including appointing rabbonim, making takonos and checking a sefer before it was published.

The Maharsho wrote some great works. His sefer Maharsho al HaShas, is one of the basic seforim on Shas which became accepted throughout the world and is now printed at the end of each volume in the standard Shas.

It is brought in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that the Torah of the Maharsho was written with ruach hakodesh.

The Chasam Sofer in his chiddushim on maseches Avodoh Zorah explains the words of the Maharsho and ends with, "And it is enough that I merited to understand his words!"

Maran the Chazon Ish in Igros Chazon Ish complains that the yeridas hadoros in the level of Torah is due to the fact that people stopped learning the Maharsho and that since then we have completely lost the knowledge of pshat.

Over the years several seforim explaining the Maharsho have been printed. Among them Maharsho Ha'aroch of R' Dovid Zvi Peteni Hy"d of Pressburg.

On motzei Shabbos 5th Kislev, 5392 (1632), the Maharsho was niftar. He was buried in Ostroa.

In the year 5611 (1851), a new headstone was set up over his grave with a fitting description honoring the Maharsho.


During the time that the Maharsho was rov in Ostroa he also stood at the helm of the great yeshiva where hundreds of talmidim learned day and night together with their great rosh yeshiva. It is said of Reb Shmuel Eidel's that he grew part of his hair so that it could be tied up. During the long nights when the Maharsho was afraid he would be overcome by sleep, he would tie his hair to something above his head so that in case his head dropped with fatigue, the pull would immediately awaken him and he would continue learning.

The reputation of the yeshiva spread and with it the enrollment of students from all over the country, so much so that the premises became much too small and the kehilla decided to build a new, purpose-built yeshiva building to accommodate its many students.

A vast amount of money was needed for such a project and the roshei hakehilloh came up with a novel idea of how to raise it. The honor of laying the cornerstone of the new building would be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The auction was announced and all the town was there to participate. During the proceedings, a poor quiet Jew approached the shamash quietly. This tzaddik had a burning desire to merit the mitzvah of laying the cornerstone to such a holy building. Somehow he would make the money. He requested of the shamash to bid instead of him so that no one would know it was the poor man. The shamash raised the price until no one could afford any higher, the hammer went down and the poor man rejoiced secretly. Curious, the townspeople begged the shamash to reveal who the highest bidder was, but true to his promise, he kept the poor man's secret.

When the day of the ceremony arrived, the poor man told the shamash he would like to honor the Rov and Rosh Yeshiva the Maharsho with laying the cornerstone, but once again he wished to remain anonymous.

However, once the crowd had dispersed, the Maharsho himself pressed the shamash to reveal to him who this philanthropist was who was ready to give out enormous sums of money for the sake of Torah and the yeshiva.

The shamash had no choice but to bring the poor man to the Maharsho.

"I am not rich at all," explained the Jew. "However, I have not been blessed with children and decided that perhaps in the zechus of building the yeshiva, Hashem will hear my prayers."

The Maharsho emotionally blessed him, "In the merit of this great mitzvah you'll have a son who will study and rise to great heights in this very yeshiva."

A year later joy permeated the household of the oni with the birth of his son. When the boy became bar mitzvah, his father took him to enroll him in the yeshiva. However, since he was so young they refused to accept him until the Maharsho personally instructed the hanholas hayeshiva to accept the boy, revealing the story of his background. Finally, after 14 years the secret of the anonymous donor was out.

The house of the Maharsho, like that of Avrohom Ovinu, was open to one and all. Guests of all sorts were welcome without question and the rabbi himself would personally serve them food and show them to their lodgings. It is told that over the doorway of his house was written in big letters an inscription from a posuk in Iyov: "Bachutz lo yolin ger, dalsi le'orach eftach" — "no stranger should sleep outside, I shall open my door for guests."

Once at the end of market day, the city's baker arrived at shul as usual to daven mincha and ma'ariv and the Maharsho noticed his face looked particularly troubled. The man sighed at the Rabbi's gentle inquiry and poured out his woes. He had baked all sorts of delicacies for market day but now the day was over and almost all his stuff had not been sold, incurring him a great loss.

Immediately, Reb Shmuel told him to deliver all his baked goods to the Rabbi's house. There the Maharsho paid him their full price and then distributed the food to the town's poor people.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.