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Lima, Mosheh ben Yitsḥak Yehudah

(1605–1658), rabbi, halakhic authority, and author. Lima served as rabbi of Slonim (1637), Vilna (prior to 1650), and Brisk (1655). In Vilna he presided over the prestigious rabbinical court, where his associates included Efrayim ben Ya‘akov ha-Kohen and Shabetai ben-Me’ir ha-Kohen. Other prominent members of the court were Aharon Shemu’el ben Yisra’el Koidonover and Hillel ben Naftali Tsevi.

Lima’s major work, Ḥelkat meḥokek (1670; published posthumously), is a commentary to the Even ha-‘ezer section of Yosef Karo’s Shulḥan ‘arukh. Since its first appearance, Lima’s text has been printed in standard editions of the Shulḥan ‘arukh, directly adjoining Karo’s text. Lima’s writings and Shemu’el ben Uri Shraga Fayvush’s Bet Shemu’el are considered to be the foremost authoritative commentaries to Karo’s Even ha-‘ezer.

Lima composed only an incomplete, untitled draft of Ḥelkat meḥokek. Covering just the first 126 of Karo’s 178 sections, the text is not solely a running commentary to Even ha-‘ezer and its glosses by Mosheh ben Yisra’el Isserles; Lima also discusses the writings of rabbis upon whom Karo based his decisions. It was edited, annotated, and published in Kraków by Lima’s son Refa’el, who derived the title from the traditional understanding of the verse in Deuteronomy 33:21: “the portion of the lawgiver [ḥelkat meḥokek; referring to Mosheh] is hidden.” Refa’el also included a selection of Lima’s responsa and an appendix—Kuntres ‘agunot—summarizing hundreds of responsa that his father had collected and abridged on the issue of ‘agunot, women whose husbands had disappeared and whose deaths could not be proven. In subsequent printings of Kuntres ‘agunot, Uri Shraga Feivish supplemented this section.

The only other published writings of Lima are several responsa interspersed in sundry collections of decisions by his contemporaries. Lima’s son wrote that he possessed additional manuscripts of his father that he hoped to publish, but he never did so. It seems that among the unpublished works was a commentary to Asher ben Yeḥi’el’s Piske ha-rosh.

Suggested Reading

Shmu’el Yosef Fin (Fuenn), Kiryah ne’emanah: Korot ‘edat Yisra’el be-‘ir Vilna (Vilna, 1915; rpt., Jerusalem, 1968), pp. 76–78; Chaim Tchernowitz, Toldot ha-poskim (New York, 1948), vol. 3, pp. 152–161.