Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Teves 5772 - January 19, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











The Maharam Shick — HaRav Moshe Shick

In honor of his yahrtzeit, Rosh Chodesh Shevat

The gaon Rabbi Moshe was born in the city of Brezve in 5567 (1807). His father's name was HaRav Yosef.

The family name Shick had been initiated by his grandfather. During his times the Austrian government issued a decree against Jewish surnames. Fearing that changing their name would cause the family to eventually change their identity and become assimilated amongst the gentiles, he registered the name Shick, an acronym in Hebrew for Shem Yisroel Kodosh.

As a boy, he learned under the tutelage of his uncle, R' Yitzchok Frankel, zt"l, rov of his hometown, who was later rov of Frauenkirchen.

Rav Moshe later recounted how as a child he found it extremely difficult to grasp all he was learning and he had to review each chapter he learned ten times over, until the material was truly gathered into his memory. However, his indefatigable will to learn and know more enabled him to persevere and reach great heights, so that at the age of seventeen he knew verbatim all of Shulchan Oruch Ohr HaChaim.

In 5581 (1821) he left home to study in the great yeshiva of Pressburg, where he stayed for six years, forming a close bond with its rosh yeshiva, Maran the Chasam Sofer, zt"l.

He married his cousin, daughter of HaRav Peretz Frankel, a"h of Holitch. Recognizing his great potential, his father-in-law supported him for ten years while Rav Moshe taught Torah to many young talmidim.

Upon the recommendation of his rov the Chasam Sofer, Rav Moshe was appointed rov of Yergen near Pressburg in 5598 (1838). After many years, in 5621 (1861), he became rov in Chust, where he resided until the end of his days.

In those years, the very foundations of Jewry were being rocked by the reformers who tried to claw their way into Beis Yisroel. HaRav Moshe Shick was among the first and boldest who fought them on every front. His teshuvos are full of responsa in practical halacha guiding and instructing how Jews should react towards the maskilim with regard to shochetim, melamdim, shelichei tzibbur, and many other topics.

After a prolonged and painful illness, the Maharam Shick passed away on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5639 (1879).

At his well-attended levaya, the many great talmidim he had taught over decades mourned his passing bitterly, quoting in reference to this godol, Mimoshe ve'ad Moshe lo kom keMoshe — meaning: from the Chasam Sofer, Rabbi Moshe Sofer, until the Maharam Shick, there was none like Moshe.

The Maharam Shick wrote a sefer on the Taryag Mitzvos. Before he put it into print, the sefer Minchas Chinuch came out and Rav Moshe saw that most of his chiburim were contained therein. He therefore canceled all those that were already in Minchas Chinuch before publishing his sefer.

He also wrote the three volumes of Sheilos Uteshuvos Maharam Shick, Droshos Maharam Shick and of late his chiburim on masechtos haShas have been printed. Some of his works still exist only in the original handwritten manuscripts.


At the tender age of fourteen, the Maharam Shick yearned to learn in the great yeshiva of the Chasam Sofer in Pressburg. He arrived during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvoh and made his way directly to the beis medrash, where the holy Chasam Sofer was giving shiur.

Following the exchange of kushyos and teshuvos, he realized that the talmidim were trying to answer a difficulty in the sugya. Rav Moshe, too, gave an answer, one that seemed to please the Chasam Sofer. Then and there the latter invited the newcomer to be his guest at the seudah on motzei Yom Kippur. During the meal, the Rov was again impressed with the young boy's extensive koach halimud and invited him to eat with him every Shabbos. In this way the Maharam Shick merited to eat all his Shabbos and yom tov meals with the Chasam Sofer for three years.

The Chasam Sofer once mentioned that he could not be mechadesh in front of this pupil, for he knew everything and would lovingly refer to him as "mein seforim shrank."

In turn, whatever the Maharam Shick learned from his Rabbi muvhak was etched in his mind and soul forever.

The Chasam Sofer would spend some weeks in the summer in the quiet town of Yergen in order to regain his strength from his busy schedule in Pressburg. During one such "holiday," the Chasam Sofer walked into the Yergen beis medrash where the Maharam Shick was giving a shiur to his talmidim.

In respect for his Rov, Rav Moshe stopped in mid-sentence and stood up together with all his talmidim in honor of the holy Chasam Sofer. The latter came in and bade his former talmid to continue the shiur. The Maharam Shick was at a loss. To give his own shiur in front of his teacher was unthinkable. To disobey, too, was out of the question, for his teacher had told him to continue.

With a sudden flash of inspiration, he began to teach his pupils, his Rabbi's words, a shiur that he had learned with the Chasam Sofer twenty years earlier!

When he served as rov of Chust, the shamash would bring him his wages every month. Once the rov noticed that he had been given a raise. Calling back the shamash, he showed him the mistake and was told that the roshei hakehilloh had decided to raise his monthly wage. The Maharam, however, insisted on returning the extra money.

When the roshei hakehilloh asked the reason for his refusal to accept, he replied, "A few weeks ago we sat together at a meeting at the request of the local melamdim who begged us to raise their low salary. You all decided that the kehilloh's budget will not allow any additions as there is no source from which to add for them. Until you find from where to add to the salary of the teachers, I do not wish you to raise my salary either."

The presidents had no choice but to pay the melamdim their desired wage, for only then would the rov agree to accept more.

The Rebbe of Sighet, author of Yitav Lev, zt"l, came to visit the Maharam Shick a few days before his passing. The Maharam Shick, who was lying, bloated from his illness and wracked with pain, turned to the Sigheter Rov and said, "The gemora states `one who sees that he is struck with yissurim should check all his deeds. If he finds nothing (wrong) on which to blame the yissurim, he should attribute them to bitul Torah.' What should I say?" he sighed. "I searched and checked all the deeds I ever did throughout my life and did not find that I had transgressed the sin of bitul Torah!"

As they left the house, the Sigheter Rov turned to his shamash, "Did you hear what the Maharam Shick said?"

"I heard" was the reply. Upon being asked what he heard, the attendant answered, "I heard his great madreigoh that he himself could testify that he never fell into the trap of bitul Torah!"

Retorted the Yitav Lev, "I realized you didn't fully comprehend what you heard."

"You are amazed that he claims never to have fallen prey to bitul Torah. Truly a wonderful claim. But I understood that he was testifying that after checking all the deeds of his lifetime, this holy man found no sin at all, for the gemora says first he should check his deeds in general and if he finds nothing he can attribute his pain to his bitul Torah. If the Maharam Shick told us he found no bitul Torah, it means that first he found no sin whatsoever!"


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