Living Legacy: The Maharsha

Living Legacy: The Maharsha

5 Kislev marked the 290th yahrtzeit of the Maharsha, Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Edelis, one of the most prominent commentaries on Shas, a peirush that is learned to this day and regarded as the key to understanding the Gemara, Rashi, and Tosafos, as well as a unique way of learning the agodos of Shas.

The Maharsha was born near Krakow in the year 5315 (1555). His father, Rav Yehuda was a great talmid chochom, and descendant of Rabi Yehuda Hachossid (and presumably named after him), while his mother came from the famed Loew family, a cousin of the Maharal. 

His greatness was apparent from a young age, and his brilliance shone forth even as a child.

He married into the Liphshitz family of Posen. His father-in-law, Rav Moshe, had been the rov of Brisk. But he was niftar by the time the couple was married. His mother-in-law was Eidel, and due to her moral and financial support of his Torah and his yeshiva, he took her name as his last name, being henceforth known as Eidelis.

He served as the rov of a number of prominent communities in Poland, in addition to serving as a prominent Rosh Yeshiva in Ostroh.

In the 1500s, the Jews of the region encompassing Poland, Galicia, and Vohlyn, were governed by a Jewish council that dealt with the governments, which taxed them collectively, and with regard to decrees and laws that were made in those days. This council was known as Va’ad Arbah Arotzos, and it would meet in Lublin periodically. Owing to his greatness and prominence, the Maharsha was a great figure in the Va’ad, and everyone looked to him for his leadership and guidance.

The two monumental works that he authored were Chidushei Halochos and Chidushei Agodos. They are found in the back of every edition often Talmud Bavli, and have been diligently learned and analyzed by Klal Yisroel throughout the millennia; sweetening the bitterness of galus, and illuminating its darkness.

But at the time of their publication, in 1600, they were published anonymously—but they nevertheless caught on immediately.

The Maharsha’s peirush is most illuminating of the Tosafos, and the Chazon Ish instructs us in his writings to see the study of Maharsha as a main entryway to understanding Tosafos, not merely as an added chidush.

His greatness in Torah was only matched by his greatness in chessed, and there are many stories that illustrate his incredible kindness.

The Maharsha was niftar at the age of 75 in the year 1631 and was interred in the town of Ostroh, Ukraine. 


Living Legacy explores the lives and legacies of tzaddikim of yore whose aura is felt to this day. It is a special project of BoroPark24.com. Comments or suggestions may be emailed to [email protected]

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