Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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9 Shvat 5772 - February 2, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Pri Megodim — HaRav Yosef Teumim zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 10 Iyar

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 takonos.

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, plowed over.

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 learn Torah.

"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 worldly matters.]

"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 Come!"

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 example.

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 correct.

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.


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