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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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