Loading... Please wait...


Our Newsletter

21****Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz

 Born: Cracow, Poland, 1690

Died: Poland, 1764

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz was a decendent from the family or Rabbi Natan Neta Shapirah- The Megale Amukot. An exceptional Talmudist, Halachist and Kabbalist, Rabbi Eybeschitz held positions as Dayan of Prague, and later rose to the position of Rabbi of the "Three Communities," Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek. 

He had contacts with Christian leaders of the period, debating religious and philosophical topics with them. His position was challenged on a number of occasions following allegations that he was a secret follower of the Shabbateanism, an outlawed movement centered around the false messiah Shabtai Zvi, despite Rabbi Eybeshitz supporting the excommunication of all Shabbatean followers. The controversy over whether Rabbi Eybeshitz was a Shabbatean spread to all major Jewish communities, and attacks by opponents lasted until his death.

Thirty of his works in the area of Halacha (Jewish law) have been published. In addition, several of his works on homiletics, teaching methodology, and Kabbalah are currently in print. 

It is interesting to note that only one of his works was published in his lifetime. The posthumous printing of so many of his works is testimony to his influence on his contemporaries through his oral teachings and his personality.

Rabbi Yehonatan as a Child

The genius of Rabbi Eybeshitz was evident from his childhood. Aside from his immense knowledge of Torah, which he acquired at a very young age, he was also very clever and possessed a razor-sharp mind. One day he was walking to his cheder(school) in the early morning hours. As he walked, a teen-aged non-Jewish boy, seeing a Jew who would make a wonderful victim, leaped upon him and began beating him. Little Yehonatan began to cry at first, but then his clever mind asserted itself and he thought: "This is Esav, the wicked robber, and I will use my wits to overcome him."     "Stop,stop," cried Yehonatan, "and I will give you the money that I have." When the bully heard this he allowed the little boy to get up from the ground. Reaching his pocket, Yehonatan took out two small coins and gave them to the bully. "Here," he said. "Today is a Jewish holiday. On this day any Jew who is beaten up by a non-Jew must give him all that he has in his pockets." The bully looked in astonishment at the little boy. "What idiots you Jews are," he exclaimed. "Who but you people would have such a crazy custom?"    Taking his money, he walked away thinking "What a pitty that I hit such a small boy who only had a couple of small coins in his pocket. I had better find a wealthy Jew to beat. I will never have an opportunity like this for a long time." Suddenly he gasped in delight: "There is my victim! He should be good for a lot of money!" Passing by, was the Jewish communal leader of the city of Finsthov. He was the wealthiest man in town. Without further ado, the bully crossed over and leaped upon the man, beating him unmercifully. A crowd quickly gathered, among them a policeman who seized the bully, gave him a swift blow on the head and dragged him off to jail. the poor bully did not know what was happening. Why was he in jail? What had he done? He was only helping Jews celebrate their holiday.    "All right," said the policeman, "why did you hit the head of the Jewish community?"  "It wasn't my fault, I only did it because there is a Jewish holiday today when all Jews give money to anyone who hits them.". The policeman looked at the bully in astonishment. "Who told you this?"....

Still another time...

the wisdom of the little Yehonatan saved the Jews of Finsthov from their enemies. It happened that in town there was a Jew who owned a store that sold spices. His next door neighbor, a butcher, was an anti-Semite of long standing. Between both stores was a very thin wall made up of cheap boards. One day, after a very good business day, the Jew sat down to count the day's earnings. As he laid out all the coins of silver and copper on the table, he did not know that a pair of eyes were watching his every move. Looking through the cracks in the thin partition was the butcher. He watched and took note of each coin and then saw where the Jew put the money. The next morning he went to the police and told them that he had a large sum of money which he kept in the store and which had been stolen. He described the coins and then said: "I am sure my Jewish neighbor stole them."  The police went to the Jewish store and sure enough, found the money. Nothing the Jew said could have save him. The proof and signs given by the butcher appeared to be clear and unmistakable evidence that the money was really his.   Not only did the Jew face a severe prison term but the anti-Semites of the town now used the incident to agitate and fan the flames of hatred against all the Jews of the city.    All the Jews gathered to discuss the terrible problem and find way to prove the innocence of the Jew.   Little Yehonatan sat in his father's home - the father was the rabbi of the city, listening to the discussion.   Then he asked permission to whisper something to his father: "Father, I know how you can prove that the Jew is innocent. If the money really belongs to the butcher, surely it will be covered with grease since he received it from his customers while he was selling them fatty meat. Let them take the coins and put them in water. If the fat floats to the surface, the Jew is guilty but if there is no fat it is a sign that it is really his and he is innocent." They did this and the truth came out. Yehonatan had saved the Jew from jail and the Jews of his town from persecution.             

May the merit of the tzaddik  Yehonatan Eybeshitz  protect us all, Amen.


We Currently Accept: